Susan Boyle musical opens to critical acclaim

The story of Scottish singer Susan Boyle was captivating when it happened in real life in 2009 and is again capturing hearts in a new production in the U.K.

Elaine C. Smith plays Boyle and co-wrote play

Susan Boyle performs during her musical 'I Dreamed A Dream' at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle, England, on Tuesday. (Scott Heppell/ Associated Press)

The story of Scottish singer Susan Boyle was captivating when it was happening in real life. Critics and fans alike are now happily revisiting her meteoric rise to fame in a new play about the Scottish singer’s epic story.

The play, I Dreamed a Dream, captures the story of the woman who went from anonymity to global stardom when, in 2009, she shocked the audience of Britain’s Got Talent with her beautiful voice and frumpy look.

The play opened on Tuesday at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle.  It received a five-star review from Dominic Cavendish at the Daily Telegraph, a three-star review from Patrick Marmion of the Daily Mail, and a three-star review from Alfred Hickling in The Guardian. Although somewhat catty, the reviewers ultimately enjoyed themselves.

"Between moments of throat-clearing reverentiality and tear-stained crooning, there is much fun to be had," wrote Marmion.

Elaine C. Smith plays Boyle in I Dreamed a Dream. The real Boyle made an appearance at the end of the show, singing the same song from Les Misérables that catapulted her to where she is now. 

"It kept occurring to me when I was at Susan’s 50th birthday, speaking to her and watching everything, that actually what had happened to her was quite magical," Smith said in a video posted on the Telegraph’s website.  She co-wrote the production.

"And if we’re going to do a stage show then it should be theatrical, and magically tell the fairy story. But tell the darkness of it as well," Smith continued. 

Although she garnered the most attention from the show, when the public voted she lost to a dance troupe. Later that night she went to the Priory, an upscale health clinic in London, apparently for treatment for stress. CNN host Piers Morgan, who was a judge on the show at the time, told press that she had not been sleeping or eating normally in the week leading up to the finale, according to the New York Times.

"Susan Boyle has not sung live on stage since her participation in the 2009 Britain’s Got Talent tour, prior to which she had cemented her new celebrity status by spending five days in the Priory . So the news that she was to make a guest appearance in a musical about her life was bound to raise an eyebrow," wrote Hickling.

Fans came from as far afield as Australia to see the opening, reported Reuters.