Cinderella stories are usually reserved for little girls, but Susan Boyle, who makes her San Francisco debut at the SHN Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, knows that getting to be the belle of a magical ball can sometimes happen for grown women too.
It’s been just five years since the then modest-looking middle-aged singer rocked Simon Cowell back on his heels on the “Britain’s Got Talent” television competition with her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Misérables.”
An instant audience favorite, she finished the contest in second place, but life has become pretty first class and career-driven for once-retiring Boyle. “Over the last five years I’ve kind of grown into it,” she offers in a pronounced Scots brogue. “It was all very new to begin with and I’d got a lot to learn. But I’d say it’s not a problem on my shoulders now. Not so intimidating. Not so frightening.”
For one thing, she’s learned how to spend time with her idols, both American and British. “He’s been a long time icon of mine,” she says of Donny Osmond. “I mean since I was 14, so, you know, a long time! Three years ago I got to perform with him in Las Vegas. It was really awesome.”
Closer to home, Boyle connected with British recording and theatre star Elaine Paige. “Elaine has always been an inspiration because I’ve always aspired to be an entertainer just like her. I was really awed to do the television special with her.”
Home is Blackburn, a small town in West Lothian, one of 32 council areas in Scotland, where the local vote was 55 percent against the recent referendum on independence from the United Kingdom, a statistic that mirrored the country-wide balloting.
Boyle is pleased with the result. “I see their point of view,” she says of the pro-independence advocates, “but I can also see that it won’t work either.”
With her career hitting its stride with new recordings – a new inspirational album called “Hope” will be available at the concert – and her American tour, Boyle is ready to leave her television identity in the past.
“I’d like to move away from that image from ‘Britain’s Got Talent.’ Instead I want people to think, ‘Here comes Susan the performer. Susan who can actually go do the show, entertain people and make sure they have a good night.’ So in the concert there’ll be some songs that you know and some songs that you won’t know. Either way, you’re guaranteed a surprise.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $69 to $129
Contact: (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com