That’s What Friends Are For couldn’t have been a better choice of name for Darren Day’s show at Viva last year.
The star of stage and screen stepped in at short notice to fill the Sunday night slot at the cabaret venue, when local favourite Joe Longthorne was diagnosed with mouth cancer and had to have a 12-hour operation and further treatment in June last year.
Now Darren and the show’s cast are back together for one night, this Sunday, with his own mix of music and impressions - inspired by his own admiration of Joe’s act.
Also to feature are singers Tracey Jordan and Caz Kaye, musical director Andy Mudd, and Viva’s own host Leye D Johns and the Viva showgirls.
The performer admits he was nervous before the first show last year, knowing how fond of Joe his fans are and the pressure he would be under.
“It was a mixed bag to be asked last year,” he said. “I was so privileged that Joe asked me to do the show, but they were massive shoes to fill - especially for someone like me who had been a fan myself.
“The show was so well received and I had been so worried the first night. Viva was full of very hardcore Joe Longthorne fans, but they were so supportive and came back every week giving great comments on social media.
“We were so sad when it came to the end of the season, so we’re genuinely excited to be doing a one night only special.”
The confidence he gained from the season’s run has seen Darren return to more cabaret work, away from his more typical musical theatre roots, and he’s added new material to his repertoire in the year since.
“It’s going to be great to perform back at Viva and to help mark the end of their summer season,” he said. “And it’s come full circle for this year, as the summer for me began with Joe’s 60th birthday show at the London Palladium.
“To be supporting my idol in that theatre, where I started my stage career [in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat], was a magical experience.”
Darren’s promising the audience a ‘good old fashioned variety show’, as he takes a day’s break from filming new feature A Bus Could Run You Over with Billy Zane.
Call (01253) 297297 for tickets, from £5.50.