I'LL BE A WEST END STAR WITHOUT MARTI

Category: Misc./General Career News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: August 26, 2004 | Publication: Scottish Daily Record | Author: Rick Fulton
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SCOTS model Eileen Catterson's little sister, Claire, is hitting the bright lights of London's West End.

And despite future brother-in-law Marti Pellow's huge standing in musicals, thanks to his role in Chicago, she wants to do it her way.

Claire, 24, has already starred at the London Palladium in To Die For and is about to star in another independent production called The Road.

The musical about a group of dancers is on at the world-famous Her Majesty's Theatre in London - home of The Phantom Of The Opera.

But Claire insists it's all her own talent and Marti didn't help her out - even with her singing.

Claire said: 'Marti hasn't given me advice because I always thought if I'm going into entertainment I don't want people to think: 'You're only doing it because of the connection'.

'I have my own independent teachers and I've never really asked him for advice, tips or even singing lessons because if I make a success of it, it's off my own back.

'But he's just simply told me to enjoy it, made me realise it's hard work and there's a lot of rejection.' Of course big sis Eileen has been there for her - especially at the auditions during the two years Claire has been trying to make it as an actress. Claire added: 'Eileen will often come with me to auditions. Some don't go your way and she's there with a tissue to wipe the tears away.

'She keeps me going. The competition is huge down here with all the acting schools.

'But I'll always give it a shot. 'For The Road I play a dancer. As Eileen was a disco dancing champ, before she was a model, she showed me a few moves.

'We practise in her living room. Eileen is very good at doing the splits with a bottle of red wine in her hand.'

It has sometimes been tough being the younger sister of one of Scotland's most beautiful women, who also dates one of our biggest singers.

At Trinity High School, Renfrew, Claire admits to being bullied, but shrugs it off with her usual laughter.

She said: 'Obviously you get a bit of stick when something is in the paper and you have to go out into the playground.

'But I had a good group of friends and I could look after myself.'

And she never felt under pressure because Eileen was the most in-demand model in Scotland.

Wearing a long, white, furry coat and looking every inch the West End glamour girl, Claire insisted: 'Eileen was the lucky one. I was the ugly duckling. I've never thought about modelling. I'll stick to acting.'

But there is a secret ingredient that Claire puts down to her family's success - her granny's 'showbiz soup'.

For her family don't just boast her and Eileen - cousin Gerard Butler is set to become a huge international star in the lead role of Hollywood's adaptation of the famous musical The Phantom Of The Opera.

Claire said: 'My secret is my granny Anna's home-made soup. It's her showbiz soup.

'She's my mum's mum and every Sunday she'd cook us a three-course meal, which started with this lovely vegetable soup. Gerry would have it too and Eileen and I still enjoy it.

'He's based quite a lot in America, but if he's visiting, he'll have some.

'We all can't wait to see him in Phantom. I love it when we see him at my granny's or auntie's having dinner and he's telling us stories about how he's getting on.'


The Road is on at Her Majesty's on September 19 with a view to touring later. Claire loves the fact she's in the theatre made famous for the musical her cousin is about to star in, for a Hollywood adaptation.

But she's more happy that, little by little, she's becoming a working actress, who just two years ago, decided to give acting a go before going to university.CLAIRE admitted she was always a show-off and was interested in entertaining long before Eileen became a model or started dating Marti, the lead singer of Wet Wet Wet. She explained: 'My family always said I was a wee show-off. When we had other family members around I'd use the curtains as my stage and I'd be singing and dancing.

'I'd have my fake microphone which I got for Christmas.'

Her first role was at five years old for the Nativity show.

Claire laughed: 'I played the inn keeper who refused Mary and Joseph.

'So my first role was as a man, but it shows I'm versatile.'

With a chuckle, she added: 'As I got older I was always in the chorus line, but my confidence grew. I was waiting for the right time to make a move.'

Her first taste of fame wasn't a happy one. She and Eileen hit the headlines in 1999 and 2000 when they tried to take McCowan's to court, claiming thousands in compensation to cover specialist dental treatment required after eating McCowan's Irn-Bru bars. Both cases were dropped.

Claire said: 'It was something that got blown out of proportion and it's great nothing came of it. My sister and my dad knew more about it - I was so young.

'Nowadays I have to watch my diet, so it's sparkling water for me, or possibly some champagne.'

The family next hit the headlines when Marti admitted he had a heroin addiction. But again Claire claims she was too young.

She said: 'He got in trouble and he got better and I wasn't around.

'Anytime I've seen him he's been fit and well. He's back and getting stuck into his work.

'I had no part in his recovery, but I'd support him whatever.'

After finishing at Trinity High she took a year out to travel, but realised she wanted to be an actress.

She took a two-year acting course at Reid Kerr College in Paisley and was all set to do another acting course at a university. But before she committed to that, she decided to move to London and see if she could get work.

Dozens, if not hundreds of young hopefuls have the same idea every year, but hard work and determination has allowed Claire to work more than not and when she's free she teaches drama workshops to primary schools.

Her first show was a UK touring panto called Rudolph, in which she played Santa Claus' wife. She then played Helen of Troy in The Trojan Horse in a touring play around England.

But her big break was in January this year in To Die For at the London Palladium, where she played a New York cleaner called Brenda.

AND on September 19 she'll have another West End show under her belt.

More than 500 people auditioned for The Road after an advert appeared in The Stage magazine.

Claire plays dancer Bonny Bishop, who goes to classes with friends and battles with a rival group who look better and are more polished.

Eileen may have won medals for her disco dancing, but Claire is dancing in London's West End.

But talk about finally coming out of Eileen's shadow and she'll dispute this.

She said: 'I never thought about following Eileen into showbusiness. I didn't think about it like that. While I'm doing a show, I'm thinking what I'm going to do next to keep in work.

'I never felt like I was in her shadow. Eileen was just so excited and admires me for going down this route and seeing what happens because there's such a risk of rejection. But rejection doesn't scare me, I'll just try again.'

Away from her tight family home, Claire admitted London was a scary place at first - especially the auditions she described as 'cold'.

Eileen lives in Chelsea while Claire, who is single, is staying with a friend in Hammersmith, but admits she's round at her sister's most of the time.

Claire's big aim is to work in TV and would love to come back to Scotland if she found work on River City or Taggart.

And although Eileen's film debut in Bond film Die Another Day ended up in the cutting room floor, we may see the Catterson sisters acting together in the future.

But what about another joint performance - at Eileen's wedding to Marti? Claire gives a knowing laugh: 'I'm sure when Eileen is ready to marry I'll be first in the queue to be the bridesmaid.'