Carmen Danen, a 35-year-old musical theatre performer, singer, actress, vocal coach, and theatre teacher who was raised in The Netherlands, has relocated to the Algarve after working and residing in several locations throughout Europe. Her journey to reach her current position began at an early age, “I don’t have a specific moment” she stated, “but my mum told me I was always singing. So I’ve always been dressing up, making up stories, singing along with Disney movies, in my own fantasy world”. Since then Carmen has been transforming her musical, dancing and theatrical vein into a long and remarkable career in the musical theatre industry.

Artistic background

Carmen’s passion developed into her taking dance classes followed by singing classes, and participating in theatre performances. “For me there was always this normality of doing all of it, I never did anything else, never wanted to do anything else”, she admitted. At the age of 14, she got accepted into a musical preparatory training called ‘MusicAll-Factory’ in Tilburg in The Netherlands which accepted teenagers between 14 and 18 years-old. “By the time I was 14 I did the audition and I got in” she revealed explaining that “basically for the next four years, every Saturday I would spend my day training and slowly becoming a performer.”

In 2006, Carmen received acceptance to study musical theatre at the Fontys Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Dance Academy, and during her final year in 2009, she auditioned and got a position to ensemble/cover Lisa in the national tour of ‘Mamma Mia’ produced by Stage Entertainment Netherlands. “It was my first professional job”, she revealed mentioning that people would constantly ask her: “What do you want to do when you get your high school diploma? And I always said I want to be on stage. What does that mean? They would ask, and I would respond, I’m going to work for Stage Entertainment – and to accomplish that in my first contract was a dream,” she said proudly. The show was on tour for a whole year and performed at all The Netherlands’ major cities.

Throughout her life, Carmen has been participating in numerous projects, which have given her plenty of expertise and a hand full of artistic skills. Among some of them are ‘The Little Mermaid’ in 2012/2013 where she worked as a swing, ‘Tarzan’ in 2015/2016 where she ensemble /cover Kala, ‘West Side Story’ in 2017-2019 where she played Anita, and ‘Titanic’ where she act as Kate McGowan in 2021.

Talking about her favourites, she said ‘Mamma Mia’ is a favourite because “it was my first show”, ‘Tarzan’ is special because “I’ve had to get out of my comfort zone”, and ‘West Side Story’ is “unique because I got to play Anita, which I never thought I would”. Even if admitting it is almost impossible to choose only one, she did say “But if I would have to pick one to stand out and which I definitely feel very proud is Tarzan, without a doubt”.

Life in the Algarve

Carmen has admitted that moving to the Algarve was challenging due to the lack of a musical theatre culture in the area. Although she was not hoping for a strong theatre culture in Portugal, mainly when compared with countries with a rich theatre culture as The Netherlands, Germany and Austria where she has lived and worked before, she thought there would be more things happening in the south of Portugal. “I knew beforehand that Lisbon and Porto are the cities that produce opportunities, but still, I was bit surprised”.

The performer revealed that she was always very fortunate, “I always had a job, and I’ve managed to work abroad, so this is just another adventure”. However, she revealed making reference to the vast number of talented Portuguese performers which are looking for the same opportunities as her that “Until I’m at a level that I feel comfortable presenting myself at a show in Portuguese, other people should do the job”, making sure to emphasize that “you are where you have to be”.

In the Zona Ribeirinha of Portimão, Carmen Danen runs her own vocal studio where she instructs people of all skill levels in English in acting, choir, and vocal coaching. She also conducts workshops in acting and singing, a body-mind-voice workshop which focuses on the physical and mental aspects that influence our voice, and a masterclass workshop which involves a short concert. With plenty of options for everyone and every artistic taste Carmen mentioned “If I can get my students to reach a certain artistic goal, and it starts to make sense, that is very rewarding”, as she clarified “teaching is my second passion, and I like to motivate people to find their voices”.

‘Sister Act ’production

Carmen’s new major project is going to be directing the well-known production ‘Sister Act’ in the Algarve, something which emerged from a spontaneous encounter with The Algarveans Theatre Group. Carmen mentioned that she came across a website, which piqued her curiosity as it was about "a group of English speaking people which have a combination of all levels and all interests and who actually do musical theatre performance”, she explained, adding saying that “I contacted them, I had no idea of how or when but I said - let’s get in touch”.

Carmen claims that ‘Sister Act’ features an “amazing disco repertoire, a few amazing characters, a lot of comedy, and plenty of choreography options”, however she made sure to highlight one crucial aspect of the production: the musical and the movie are two entirely different entities. "The story is the same, the characters are the same, but the look, the music and the choreography are something completely different", she rationalized, saying that she did not "want to disappoint anyone", who is more familiar with the film version.

The goal is to cast around 25 people, which must be over the age of 16 as ‘Sister Act’ is mainly an adult show. But aside from age, Carmen states that "everyone who finds this project interesting, are welcomed to audition and show us what they've got" as there are no additional restrictions. The auditions are going to take place on the 26 March and 28 March at the UJS Little Theatre in Carvoeiro between 7pm-10pm. The interested participants should previously sign up for the auditions, more information can be found in The Algarveans Theatre Group website.

Revealing she is going to spend the entire summer focusing on this major project, Carmen has admitted that she is quite excited “to put a very passionate group of people with a certain energy together”, mentioning that she “just happens to be the captain of the ship, but they will do the rest”. When asked about why she loves being a musical theatre performer, she explained “I’m allowed to tell stories, step into a world that I would normally never be part of, to entertain."

Emphasizing how hard it is to put into words the exact feeling of being on stage, Carmen added that “The reward you feel mentally, physically and professionally, which comes from the appreciation of an audience is a very special thing in life to experience, and you cannot capture it, it is not something you can take home, it is a moment in time which feels almost like a type of addiction”.


After studying Journalism for five years in the UK and Malta, Sara Durães moved back to Portugal to pursue her passion for writing and connecting with people. A ‘wanderluster’, Sara loves the beach, long walks, and sports. 

Sara J. Durães