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Damien Leith discusses his new one-man play (Includes interview)

Enjoying ongoing success and maintaining a cherished place in the public eye has proved tricky for many who have followed the TV talent show route to fame. Damien Leith seems to be one of the lucky ones, though hard work, dedication to his art and obvious talent have clearly played their part.

Now, the 39-year-old Irishman, who has called Australia home for nearly 13 years, is preparing to stage his one-man play, The Parting Glass, next month in Melbourne. This self-written piece, set in an Irish bar and featuring traditional Irish music played by a live band, was previously performed at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2012.

“It’s exciting,” enthuses the man himself, a prolific artist with a number of studio albums to his name. “It’s a play I wrote about three years ago for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, and since then I’ve been meaning to really get it out there and gradually get people into it. We got such a good reaction at Adelaide that it’s been long overdue.”

“I’ve always loved writing plays and I’ve written three full-length plays in the past,” continues the man of many talents, “which didn’t involve any music at all, and when I sat down to write this one, I just thought it would be nice to set it in a very non-threatening environment…

“It’s in an Irish pub and it’s all about a conversation between a father and a son who’ve been separated for a number of years and they’re catching up on what’s happened in the last five years.

“There’s a quite a bit of humour, but at the same time there’s an underlying story that neither of them really want to talk about, but eventually it surfaces.”

Some of the Irish standards in the play include “Danny Boy,” “Black Is the Colour” and “Rocky Road to Dublin” and I wondered whether Damien had written any new songs for it?

“No, there’s no new songs, but they’re actually all-new versions,” he explains. “So even the likes of ‘Danny Boy,’ it wouldn’t be your traditional version of it. Same for all the other ones… There’s ‘Raglan Road,’ ‘Black Is the Colour,’ ‘Red Is the Rose’… There’s about 17 songs throughout the show and they are different versions.”

At the moment, there are only two performances of The Parting Glass scheduled, both of which, as previously mentioned, take place next month in Melbourne. Would Damien like to take the show out on the road at some point?

“I’d love to, yeah… Like I say, it’s been something I’ve been working towards for a while. I’ve rewritten the script since the festival as well and I’ve added extra bits to it. I’ve also worked with the songs more, so Adelaide was kind of the testing ground for it.

“We’re sitting now with a much more polished show and it’s much better put together, so fingers crossed that people really like it. I think it engages the audience in a nice way and I’d definitely love to take it all around Australia.”

To bring the proceedings to a close, I asked the married father of three to tell me a bit about his time on Australian Idol.

“It was some friends that encouraged me to go in for it,” he recalls. “I was in Darling Harbour, where the auditions were going on, and I was with my wife and two friends.

“They said, ‘Oh, go on, do the audition’ and to prove them wrong, I went down and that’s how it happened. I went down, and to my surprise, got through. I had no expectations at all really of what might happen next.”

Catch The Parting Glass at the Chapel Off Chapel in Melbourne on Saturday 21st February 2015. The first show starts at 2pm, the second at 8pm.

For more information on Damien Leith, visit his official website.

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