AIMS/HB Awards 2013
(16/06/2013) by Colm Moules

Not even the bad weather could dampen the enthusiasm of over 1000 people, who travelled to the annual AIMS/HB Awards 2012/2013 on Saturday night last in the INEC, Gleneagle’s Hotel, Killarney, Co. Kerry.

This annual event is a reflection of the huge musical theatre talent that exists up and down the country and is sponsored by HB ice cream. Stephen Shallow from HB made reference to the fact that “Ice Cream and Musical Theatre make a great fit, as they make you feel good and is a great partnership”. The event was attended by the NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) President in the UK, Derek Grattidge and his wife Connie, who remarked “we are similar in our aims” and delighted to share our cultural activities in these difficult recessionary times.

AIMS (Association of Irish Musical Societies) president, Richard Lavery, from St. Agnes’ Belfast and Stephen Shallow, HB, presented the Awards. There were two sections for the awards: Gilbert & Sullivan and it was (WLOS) Wexford Light Opera Society, who took the top award on the night, Best Overall Show in the Gilbert Section, for their production of “The Witches of Eastwick”. WLOS also picked two other awards, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, for Catherine Walsh, who played the part of Felicia, and Sharon Clancy, playing the role of Jane Smart picked up the Best Comedienne award.

Interestingly, Wexford, featured very prominently in the awards over the weekend as St. Michael’s Theatre, New Ross, Co. Wexford, won the Best Overall Show award in the Sullivan Section for “The Producers” and Kevin Reade, won the Best Comedian Award for his part as Roger de Bris, and got engaged to his girlfriend Orla Maher on Sat – marriages do happen in AIMS! Keith Flanagan playing the part of Franz Liebkind won the Best Actor Award for the group also.

Other societies to figure strongly were Birr Stage Guild, with their production of “Oliver” in the Sullivan section who picked up the awards for Best Chorus, Best Actor in a Leading Role Michael Donegan who played the part of Fagin, a part previously won by award winning actors Simon Delaney and Richie Hayes, Paul Norton won the Best Director Award for the society. Teachers Musical Society staged “Michael Collins – A Musical Drama” and won the awards in the Gilbert section for Best Chorus, Best Actor in a Supporting Role where Sean McMahon played the part of Emmett and Eoin Cannon won the Best Director Award. Brian Flynn, writer and creator of “Michael Collins – A Musical Drama” was also at the awards weekend to witness these achievements. Clane Musical society won three awards for their production of “Sweeney Todd” in the Sullivan Section, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Helena Reynolds Begley who played the part of Mrs. Lovett, Rory Dunne who played the part of Sweeney and the society also won the Best Musical Director Award, where Dave McGauran was Musical Director.

Amongst the ladies, the part of Felicia in “The Witches of Eastwick” was certainly a winner where Gwen Bagnall won the award for Trim Musical Society for Best Comedienne in the Sullivan Section and Joan Duignan, Gorey Musical Society won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role as Matilda Hyde in “All Shook Up” also in the Sullivan Section. Jackie O’Mahony, Light Opera Society of Tralee won the Best Female Singer in the Sullivan Section for Lucy in “Jekyll & Hyde” and in the Gilbert Section Sinead O’Callaghan, SONG, Dundalk, playing the role of Grania in “The Pirate Queen” won the Best Female Singer.

The Mary Kelly award for Unsung Hero went this year to Angela Webb, Castlerea Musical Society, and a very worthy recipient, who has been in many roles down the years from on stage lead roles, to behind the scenes, front of house, props, costume department and so on.  Castlerea M.S. also won the Best Ensemble award in the Sullivan section for The Rumour in “Fiddler on the Roof”

The presentation of the whole event saw more than four thousand people, many of them abroad, enjoyed the Awards ceremony as a web live stream and real time results via twitter.