JESUS Christ Superstar hopeful Niall Sheehy said his big break comes after years of tirelessly plugging away at acting in Ireland and in the UK.
The actor from Bray has made it through to the live shows of the search for the next star.
Niall (31) said that he is stunned he has a chance to take up the heavenly role.
"I genuinely never thought I had a chance of making it this far," he said.
"I was just hoping to be in front of a casting director, and maybe move my career forward a few steps."
Niall and Jeff Anderson, a 21-year-old singer from Newtownards, Co Down, will battle against nine others on the first of ten live shows being broadcast on ITV and 3e as composer Andrew Lloyd Webber searches for the next Jesus to feature in the arena tour of his hit show.
The final 11 were whittled down from a group of 30 who impressed judges including Lloyd Webber, actress Dawn French and singer Jason Donovan.
Niall said his family are hugely supportive of his move to London, where he has been living for five years, despite the long and difficult journey so far.
"I was trying to break into acting in Ireland but it's a much smaller scene. There are so many more open auditions in London so you can keep trying and trying," he said.
"It's been a bit of a slog, I had to scrimp and save for my masters at a drama college, and I was working three jobs at one time.
"It's never about who the most talented person is who gets those breaks, it's who is the last person to give up."
The prize is the lead role in a play that will tour the UK and Ireland including the O2 later this year, starring alongside former Spice Girl Mel C and the comedian and songwriter Tim Minchin.
Niall said in an interview with TV Now that he hopes to get the chance to work with West End great Andrew Lloyd Webber.
"I think he's fantastic. You don't want to let him down because he has hand picked the whole lot of us."
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