Taken from Echo Liverpool
Growing up as a teenager in North London, Blue’s Antony Costa had one single overriding ambition. And no, it wasn’t to be in a boy band.
“I always wanted to be Mickey Johnstone,” he reveals.
“When I saw Blood Brothers when I was studying for my GCSEs, it was just the best thing I’d ever seen in my life.
“If I went for an audition and they asked for a monologue, I’d do the Mickey Johnstone monologue.
“And if they wanted something else, I’d do the school scene with Linda.”
He had to wait, but the 34-year-old’s dream finally came true a decade ago thanks to Bill Kenwright , who listened to those audition pieces and gave him the chance to play Mickey in the West End and on tour.
“I owe a lot to Bill Kenwright,” he says. “He gave me my first break and I can’t thank him enough.”
Technically, the stage impresario and Evertonian wasn’t the first Scouser to have given Antony a break.
One of his early roles, pre-pop stardom, was as a schoolboy on Phil Redmond ’s Grange Hill.
But now Kenwright has come up trumps again, and Antony is back on the road, this time in Save The Last Dance for Me – heading for Liverpool next month.
The show, which was last at the Empire in 2012, was penned by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, the team behind Dreamboats and Petticoats as well as TV hits like Birds of a Feather and The New Statesman.
The plot follows two teenage sisters through the summer of 1963 (the same summer, incidentally, that ‘Baby’ Houseman meets Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing), as they take a seaside holiday without their parents.
They meet a handsome young American airman, Milton, who invites them to a dance at a local air base.
There, romance blooms. But the path to true love isn’t a smooth one.
It’s all set to a soundtrack that includes hits like Sweets For my Sweet, Please Mr Postman and Elvis’ Viva Las Vegas.
But despite being very much a jukebox musical, there are deeper themes at play.
Antony, who plays whealer dealer Milton, explains: “They land in the UK, they’re in Lowestoft, and the first thing that comes into Milton’s head is ‘let’s go and get the girls and go back to the air base and have a party’.
“He goes back with Jennifer and Marie, and Marie falls in love with Curtis, Milton’s best friend.
“And it’s about their journey and their love for each other and how they get through things with people’s ignorance with the fact Curtis is black and Marie is white.
“In the early 60s, interracial relationships were very much frowned upon.”
Audiences so far have been “absolutely fantastic” he says.
One recent audience member was his own mum.
“How did you know that?” he laughs. “Mum absolutely loved it, she loved the music.
“There’s a lot she remembers from her growing up.”
It’s all a far cry from his time with Blue .
The band was formed in 2000, and had a string of hits during the first five years of the millennium, including All Rise, the number ones Too Close and Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, and One Love.
After a six-year hiatus – in which Antony went solo, had a stint in the I’m a Celebrity jungle and played Mickey Johnstone – Blue returned to represent the UK at Eurovision, gaining a very creditable 11th place.
They also joined The Big Reunion tour.
While the four have pursued separate paths (Duncan James and Simon Webbe have also appeared in musicals), the door has been left open for the band to do more together.
“We’ve had a good time, we’re still the very best of friends. But there’s no rules about being in a boy band anymore,” says Antony.
“There were back in the day, where you had to release an album every year.”
At present the dad-of-one is concentrating on building his acting career, not as ‘Antony from Blue’ but as a performer who has earned his place in any cast.
He would, he says, love the “challenge” of a straight acting role.
“Bill does a lot of Agatha Christie dramas on stage,” he smiles. “One of those whodunits, that would be really cool.”
For now though there’s Save the Last Dance for Me, and its imminent arrival in Liverpool.
Antony adds: “It’s a really great uplifting show, with some fantastic music.”