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Liverpool Echo April 24,2001

Brookside Star Chicago Bound


BROOKSIDE'S Claire Sweeney is tipped to make the journey from the East End to the West End.

Ms Sweeney, who appeared in Celebrity Big Brother, filmed in east London, may step into the shoes of Denise van Outen who leaves the lead role of Chicag in the autumn.

Ms Sweeney, who plays Lindsey Corkhill in the Merseyside soap, is said to have been for three auditions.

Chicag has wowed sell-out audiences at London's Adelphi Theatre for the past four years.

Former Big Breakfast host Denise van Outen is currently playing tough but cheeky Roxie Hart in the musical.

Ms Sweeney's successful appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, which included an impromptu song which showcased her powerful singing voice, has brought her to the attention of top agents.

But a Brookside spokeswoman said she did not know whether there was any truth in the rumours Ms Sweeney was to appear in Chicago.

She said: "It is all speculation at this stage."

Ms Sweeney, 30, from Walton, last night appeared at a London Palladium charity gala, The Night Of 100 Stars, where she sang the song Nothing, from the Broadway show, Chorus Line.

Among those who took part were Stefanie Powers, Gemma Craven and performers from West End musicals such as Les Miserables, The Beautiful Game and The Lion King.

She is due to perform a duet with Brian Conley on his show later this week and in May will be at the Royal Albert Hall to sing in a birthday tribute to Prince Philip.

Ms Sweeney was runner-up in Celebrity Big Brother, in which she appeared alongside comedian Jack Dee, TV girl Anthea Turner, Boyzone singer Keith Duffy, presenter Vanessa Feltz and former boxer Chris Eubank.

Big Brother was the latest success story for the actress.

She studied at Liverpool's Elliot Clarke College of Dance and Drama and appeared in a wide range of shows and plays, including a version of the 1960s rock musical Hair for Southport Arts Centre's youth theatre in 1987.

After leaving with a string of O-Levels and certificates in the performing arts, Ms Sweeney joined the Italia Conti stage school in London.

She began her career singing in cabaret performances on P&O cruises, including the maiden voyage of the Oriana.

But her big break came when she wrote a letter to Mersey TV in a bid to land a part in Brookside.

The letter arrived as producers were looking to cast the part of Lindsey Corkhill six years ago.

Last year, she won Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes with an impressive imitation of Celine Dion.