Boys in Green back Ben for Fame as he wows fans at match
FAME The Musical rising star Ben Morris was bowled over when he was asked by the FAI to sing for the crowd at last night's Ireland match and can now count football hero Jason McAteer as his latest fan.
The singer, who has been performing in musicals from the age of 16, is one of the last four men standing in hit reality TV star show.
Ben (23), from Tallaght, said that he was nervous singing in front of his biggest audience to date at the RDS last night, but jumped at the chance to perform in front of international footballers and Irish fans.
"It was absolutely fantastic," he said. "I stayed for the first half but we've an early start over the weekend."
Ben said he got to meet his hero, Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni, but was surprised when former Republic of Ireland midfielder McAteer singled him out.
"He came over to me and said: 'I just heard your sound check, you sound fantastic. Don't be nervous, I'll be voting for you on Sunday'," Ben said.
The Dubliner performed the Fields Of Athenry to get the crowd going along with U2's Beautiful Day and said that even the Algerian fans joined in with the tunes.
"Damien Duff jogged past as I was hitting the high note and he just looked at me and winked as if to say 'well done'," Ben added.
Ben said that the pressure was increasing with only three weeks left in the RTE show. "After school I studied for a degree in Musical Theatre and then performed on the West End, but this is the hardest thing I've ever done," he said.
The aspiring actor said that he had received huge support from Dubliners in his quest to take the lead role in the musical show.
"I don't need bodyguards or anything but if I'm at the bus stop people will shout at me 'Are you the guy off Fame?'" he laughed.
"The support from Tallaght is phenomenal. Friends of mine set up a Facebook site as soon as I got into the show. I thought it was a bit much, but they said they wanted to get me known.
"It's amazing, I now have more than 900 fans on the site."
The search for the stars of Fame The Musical was launched in January and thousands of applicants were in the running for the lead roles of Nick and Serena.
The critically acclaimed programme has attracted over 300,000 viewers on average each weekend.
Ben has moved home from London over the past year and is now eager to break into the industry here.
"When I was in London I was in front of an audience of 1,100," Ben noted. "This is a massive audience, it has been such an opportunity."
This Sunday, Ben will perform a number from the musical made famous by Michael Jackson, The Wiz. The programme will be broadcast live on RTE One at 6.30pm.