Louise Miriam "Dillie" Keane (born 23 May 1952) is an Olivier Award-nominated actress, singer and comedian. She is perhaps best known as one third of the comedy cabaret trio Fascinating Aïda since its 1983 inception, but she has also had a prominent solo career.
Theatre and Fascinating Aïda
Keane was nominated for a Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 1990 for her one-woman theatre show Single Again (Sean Hughes would go on to win the award), returning the following year with Citizen Keane. Between 1999 and 2001 she toured a one-woman show, Back With You, taking in the UK and Germany, and winning the Best Comedy Award at the Moers Comedy Festival in 2001.
In 2002, Keane wrote the songs for Sandi Toksvig's musical comedy Big Night Out at the Little Palace Theatre (starring in the show itself at the Watford Palace Theatre with Toksvig and Bonnie Langford). Other works include the plays A Slice of Life (1981) and Boat People (1983). She has written songs for two pantos with Adèle Anderson.
Keane continued her acting career, including touring versions of Dancing at Lughnasa and Charley's Aunt, Juno and the Paycock at the Leicester Haymarket; The Plough and the Stars at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds; Accommodating Eva at the King's Head Theatre in Islington and Present Laughter at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. She was included in the premiere production of The Vagina Monologues in Dublin in 2002. She appeared with Kit and The Widow in Tomfoolery during 2005 and in the premiere one night only staging of a new musical version of Little Women at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
Keane has recently been (2006) appearing alongside Jenny Eclair and Linda Robson, in Grumpy Old Women Live and she appeared as The Duchess in Me and My Girl (2006) on a new national tour. She is currently performing the role of Dolly in Frank and Dolly a new play by Lizzie Hopley at the Edinburgh Festival 2007, for which she has been nominated for The Stage Best Actress Award, before getting back on tour with Grumpy Old Women Live. She then toured round Ireland performing the role of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, before returning to England, and beginning to write new songs for the 25th anniversary of Fascinating Aïda, which performed for a few weeks at the Jermyn Street Theatre. On 29 June 2008, she appeared in (as well as produced with Barb Jungr) The Lovely Russell Concert, which celebrated the life of her friend and colleague Russell Churney. In 2009, she toured England with Fascinating Aïda, and completed a new album.
As well as a television version of Fascinating Aïda, she has appeared with Richard Griffiths and Samantha Janus in Pie in the Sky, and with Phil Cool on a number of his series as well as The Truth About Women.
Keane was a columnist for the Mail on Sunday (1993–95), and published two books connected with 'Aïda': The Joy of Sequins—The Fascinating Aïda Songbook (1995) and Fascinating Who? (1985).
Keane was born to Frank Keane, a doctor from County Mayo, and the former Miriam Slattery (from Tralee, County Kerry). Dillie Keane was raised in Portsmouth as a Roman Catholic, and described her mother as something of a "dragon".
She drives a Ford Transit: "I'm colossally uninterested in cars... but vans are different. They're incredible fun to drive. You are practically always the bigger dog. People always back up in small country lanes to let you pass. And even lorry drivers are much nicer; they'll flash you to let you in."
Despite singing in the choir and playing guitar on the "Folk Mass" album recorded by some of the girls from the Woldingham School (Sacred Heart) at Abbey Road in 1967, she was later expelled. Keane studied music at Trinity College, Dublin, but left the four-year course after three years. She went on to study acting for three years at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters at the University of Portsmouth in recognition of her career and her continuing links with the city.