Boyzone's Shane Lynch teams up with old friend Ben Ofoedu for the Kings Theatre's panto, Aladdin
Back in the summer, Boyzone were on their farewell tour when Shane Lynch appeared on ITV’s morning show Lorraine to plug a new programme he’s starring in.
The clearly bleary Shane admitted he was hungover – 48 hours after the band had played their last ever Belfast show.
That afternoon the performer was due to be at the Kings Theatre in Southsea for the launch of this year’s panto, Aladdin.
Unfortunately Shane never made it and couldn’t be contacted to find out where he was.
The Guide finally caught up with Shane last month as he was driving down to Portsmouth to take part in the switch-on of the Commercial Road Christmas lights (which we are happy to report he was there for).
With a cheeky question about whether he’ll make it to the lights being switched on, he takes it in good humour. ‘It depends on transport issues, apparently transport issues are a problem in the UK,’ he chuckles.
So was that the problem in August?
‘Someone let me down, and it wasn’t meant to be,’ he says a touch ruefully.
And looking a little bleary-eyed on Lorraine? ‘I’m bleary-eyed every day, that’s how I get through it!’ he laughs again.
As part of the world-conquering Boyzone, Shane sold more than 25m albums and millions more singles over the course of their 25 year career. But after one final hurrah, they called it quits at the end of their last world tour, which finished in London in October.
Shane is not one prone to sentimentality though: ‘We’ve called it a day and it’s all good, now we’re just cracking on.
‘Boyzone was almost a sideline in life at this point, with everything else going on, with the race cars,’ he’s been seriously involved in motorsport for years, ‘and the different businesses that I do.
‘It was always good to be back on the road with the fellas, but we served our 25 years and did the album and tour, and now we’re out the other side of that, so onwards and upwards!’
And how did he feel after those final shows?
‘It was good, it was a celebration. It was nice way to end, with five nights there in the Palladium, we had a little bit of a residency there, it was cool, man.’
But now he promises he’s focused on the panto where he’s playing the evil Abanazar.
In 14 pantos, this is his fourth as Abanazar.
‘I like to play it not so much as slapstick panto, I quite like the storyline. I liked what Disney did with the character, rather than it just being “hiss” and “boo”
‘I think what pantos usually like to do is to portray the baddy with just the hissing and booing, but I’m the one who's coming on there to tell the story.
‘I am the villain, but I've got a job to do and I like for people to believe in my character.
‘I'll take the booing on board if it comes, but all of the crowds are different. Sometimes you will walk on stage and immediately they're booing. It's not a problem, but I don't encourage that, I'd rather be a little bit mystical, a little bit more in-depth and more... West End than panto.’
The cast also includes The Voice star Lucy Kane, and Portsmouth’s favourite dame, Jack Edwards, as well as Phats & Small’s Ben Ofoedu, who is an old friend of Shane’s.
‘Ben was the one who encouraged and enticed me to come to Portsmouth and come to this company,’ says Shane. ‘In truth, in all of the 14 years of pantos I’ve done, I've never really had any bad camaraderie with anyone.
‘I think everyone's always been generally quite cool – no real hissy fits.
‘Everyone’s been real easy to work with, but to have an added extra of a friend there, of course it makes your six weeks a lot more comfortable.’
Ben and Shane met when the former was in the band Benz. He would later find fame as the singer of the huge hit Turn Around for garage act Phats & Small.
‘I’ve known Shano 25 years,’ says Ben. We hit it off when I was in a boy band, which was like an R&B pop band, in the 90s.
‘He was with Boyzone and our love for hip-hop brought us together.’
The two have worked on various projects down the years, and have a new one coming up next year.
‘We always look for excuses to work together – and we're about to embark on another project. Next year we'll be touring with a party called The ’90s Have Called. It’s me, Shane Lynch, Dane Bowers of Another Level, and Abs from 5ive – it’s a massive ’90s extravaganza.
‘It’s going to be a lot of fun, because it's just all the same as panto – it’s entertainment and fun.’
Ben though, is looking forward to playing Genie here in Southsea.
‘I’ve done Aladdin three times and I love it. It's a great role – the genie’s kind of the star of the show, really.
‘It’s Aladdin’s name above the door, but I’m like the lead guitarist, right? It's really, really nice because the show is kind of blessed for me – it sets you up for the Genie.
‘I get to be backstage with my cup of tea and everyone's talking about this Genie character and building you up. Then I just come on and do my thing
‘There's a lot of anticipation. It's great, it’s magical and there’s a lot of energy.’
And Shane promises he’ll be on his best behaviour while he’s here.
‘Funnily enough, when I do theatre work I don’t drink.
‘Concerts are parties – when you get on stage, it's a big atmosphere and it's a party. But when you have to deliver lines, I can’t have a clouded judgment, I get real serious about my theatre work.’
Aladdin is at the Kings Theatre, Southsea from Wednesday to January 5. Ticket prices from £19-32, depending on time and date. Go to kingsportsmouth.co.uk.
No drinking while on show.
Funnily enough, when I do theatre work I don’t drink.
Concerts are parties. When you get on stage, it's a big atmosphere and it's a party. But when you have to deliver lines, I can’t have a clouded judgment, i get real serious about my theatre work.
Playing around with script?
I mean, when you kind of go off kilter, and off book, I'm not a trained actor, I just enjoy doing these kind of shows.
But once once people kind of go off piste, I’m not the greatest at picking up the pieces, really.
In new year?
health and fitness
breaking out is a lot more into European countries and stuff.
Clothing label - going into Poland
Opening a new bar in february in Chester
Shoe company branching into Germany
I’m looking forward to coming down and playing this - the theatre’s absolutely beautiful.
It’s a worthy place for anyone to play, let’s put it that way, I’m very honoured to be on it.