Guess who’s coming to dinner: Dillie Keane  

Image by Steve Ullathorne

Guest number one would be Fats Waller. He’d be WONDERFUL fun, he’d play the piano like the genius he was, and he’d get the party atmosphere going.
I once met Joan Sutherland, the Australian opera singer, years ago. I was so in awe that I shook like a jelly. Her voice has been the mainstay of my life; it’s what I turn to again and again. She wasn’t above herself at all, just an Australian housewife with a divine gift. 
Apparently, Rossini, the opera composer, was incredibly charming and urbane, as well as writing music that makes you laugh and feel glad to be alive. He was also a wonderful cook so he could help in the kitchen if I got a bit behind with my dinner preps!
Greta Keller was a fascinating woman, a Viennese cabaret artiste who survived the war and worked a lot in America. She sang equally well in German, French and English, and was a huge favourite of serious composers like Stravinsky and Bernstein.
My next guest would be Edith Piaf, who would have known Greta Keller. She was a huge diva, but had the right to be. She’d be the most difficult company, but I’d make a big fuss of her and get her singing.
I once had to interview Vladimir Ashkenazy, the Russian pianist and conductor and it was like meeting God – but he was completely warm and delightful.  However, he was completely dismissive of ‘light’ music, and I’d love to get him to listen to some of the above performers, just so I could show him the power of a cabaret song to move you.
With all those musicians you need someone to get the chat going, and Peter Ustinov would be very good at translating as he was an astounding linguist. In addition, he was a marvellous raconteur.
Finally, I would invite Harpo Marx, who came across in his autobiography Harpo Speaks as a man of enormous heart: funny, touching and adorable. But someone needs to be there to listen and he was a great listener.
We’d have one hell of a party once we got going. We would eat in my kitchen and I’d be able to listen to the chat whilst preparing dinner. I’d do a crab tart to start with, then Osso Bucco for main course. After that, a selection of puddings – I make a spiced pineapple, or brandied clementines, plus homemade macaroons. As for drink – that’s where it gets tricky.  Fats would want gin; Rossini, Piaf and Keller would like wine; Sutherland would want a mug of hot water.  I’d get some fine vodka in for Ustinov and Ashkenazy, and Harpo would want a beer. 
Hell, I’d get everything, and join Fats on the gin.

And you are..?
Name: Dillie Keane
Trained: Studied music at Trinity College, Dublin, and then it was off to drama school at LAMDA for some acting instruction.
Career: Plans for straight acting were overtaken by the rip-roaring success of Fascinating Aïda, the cabaret group which started in 1983.

Other activities:
Song-writer, performs in a one woman show, writes for
newspaper column.
Tickets for the Fascinating Aida Cheap Flights tour have been selling like hotcakes. You can
try your luck at