Brian McFadden’s coming to Liverpool in stage version of H G Wells’ sci-fi classic War of the Worlds

His sister Susan is no stranger to musical theatre, having played leading roles in the West End and on tour since winning Grease is the Word.

Now big brother Brian is getting in on the act.

McFadden senior is heading for the ECHO arena later this month, appearing as the Sung Thoughts of the Journalist in Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds.

But while this may be a departure for the Westlife singer, it’s not, it appears, his first experience of big stage spectaculars.

“I did all kinds of kids’ productions, and stuff like Grease,” he reveals of his time as a young member of Dublin’s Billie Barry Stage School.

“And I also did some big productions, things like the Wizard of Oz, which was a nine or 10 month run in the Olympia Theatre in Dublin.

“But I haven’t been in a musical since I was 13 or 14, so this will be my first time doing any sort of ensemble work since then.”

And it’s quite an ensemble that show mastermind Jeff Wayne has drawn together for what he has declared to be the final arena tour for the all-singing, all-fire breathing stage version of H G Wells’ sci-fi classic.

The cast includes Jason Donovan as Parson Nathaniels, Les Mis’ Carrie Hope Fletcher as his wife Bess, and X Factor’s Shayne Ward and Joseph Whelan as the Artilleryman and Voice of Humanity respectively.

Wells also features in this final tour, ‘appearing’ in three scenes, aged 33, 53 and 79 – spanning the end of the 19th century and two world wars.

Then there’s a new face too as the hologram, a role originally played by the late Richard Burton.

“Even the hologram is Liam Neeson!” Brian laughs. “You don’t want to mess it up in front of him.”

Conductor and composer Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds has its origins in a double album first released in 1978, going on to sell more than 15 million records and topping the charts in 11 countries as well as spawning two hit singles including Forever Autumn.

The first arena tour took place in 2006, with Justin Hayward reprising his original role as the Sung Thoughts of the Journalist, who gets to perform the song. Brian steps into his shoes – and those of Marti Pellow who played the role on tour two years ago.

“Forever Autumn is an incredible song,” says Brian, “it’s one of my favourites. I’ve never seen the show live, only on DVD, but I’ve heard the song on the radio before of course because it’s been released by a few people. So I’m really delighted to be singing that song.”

There won’t, however, be much chance to put his own stamp on it.

“This is Jeff’s baby,” points out the 34-year-old. “Normally when you sing a song you can put your own spin on it.

“But these are iconic songs, and you have to keep them true to how they’ve been in the musical for the past however many years.

“A lot of the die-hard fans might lose their temper if I change it!”

It’s all a far cry from the control that comes with being part of one of the most successful boy bands of all time, as well as running your own solo career.

Perhaps it could be a new direction for the dad-of-two (and former Mr Kerry Katona of course) who has also started to forge a presenting career alongside his musical one.

It would certainly be a nod back to the young Brian’s time as member of Ireland’s most famous stage school, which celebrates its half-century this year. “I don’t know,” he says doubtfully. “This is a one-off for me. I’ve just got to see how it goes, and see if I enjoy it.

“It’s definitely not the jazz hands part of the musicals’ business!”

That’s true. No one has attempted to make a jazz hands version of H G Wells’ apocalyptic vision.

“It’s pretty much the original science fiction story,” Brian adds. “And the genre hasn’t really changed that much, has it?”

Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds is at the ECHO arena on November 28.

Source: Echo