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UPCOMING EVENTS

SMMS presents, 'MADE IN DAGENHAM'

23 Apr 2024

Oklahoma

15 Oct 2024

Kilmacud MS presents Sister Act

9 Apr 2024

Chess

16 Apr 2024

The Addams Family

31 Oct 2024

LATEST NEWS

Cry-Baby as presented by Malahide Musical Society

Cry-Baby as presented by Malahide Musical and Dramatic Society: Date of Adjudicated Performance: Friday, 16th February 2024. Cry Baby, if...

Cry-Baby  as presented by Malahide Musical and Dramatic Society: Date of Adjudicated Performance: Friday, 16th February 2024. Cry Baby, if you’ve never heard of it, may never rank, from a literary point of view, alongside Shakespeare, Dickens or Victor Hugo, and it may never rank musically beside the genius of Sondheim, but it’s safe to say that it might just be one of the funniest, most original and highly entertaining pieces of musical theatre I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy. The titular character, Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker, is determined to clear the good name of his parents who were wrongfully executed for arson. He turns up at the scene of the crime, during an Anti-Polio picnic and falls in love with local square, Allison, much to the chagrin of her wannabe boyfriend, local nerd and barbershop-quartet singer, Baldwin. As the story unfolds and love blossoms, the respectable nerds try to frame Wade for another arson attack, but the truth is eventually revealed and goodness triumphs. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, and featuring such incredibly funny songs as Watch Your Ass, Squeaky Clean, Screw Loose and Can I Kiss You With Tongue, it’s far removed from anything you might have seen before, but it is quite simply dynamite. Director, Emma Jane Reilly, pulled out all the stops to make it as slick and sensational as she could possibly manage. Her attention to character was awesome, with every individual strong and secure in their role. Her eye for good comedy was evident throughout, being unafraid to go for the jugular with the craziness of the story and the irreverence of many of the lyrics. The whole production was very much “in your face” precisely because that’s the way it’s written, and to water it down might have spoiled the overall product. Added to all of that, Emma Jane also ensured that the production standards were spread right across the field, from good sets and staging to fabulous costumes and make-up. The main feature of the set was the projection screen, centre stage, which provided not only a variety of good locational images, but also some good graphics and effects, and allowed the band to be shown to the audience. The remainder of the set was fairly neutral, with a raised platform up-stage and good raised areas Downstage R and L. Dressing for the various scenes was achieved mostly with self-standing pieces and a wide variety of good props and furniture. Under the guidance of Stage Manager, Therese Farrell, this was a very fluid production with almost unnoticeable scene changes. Lighting was of a very good standard, with faces well-lit throughout and with plenty of disco effects and mood lighting, using colours that reflected the tone of each setting. Given that the band were located in some small backroom of the theatre, a very good balance was maintained between band and on-stage vocals. Cueing and sound effects were also precise. Props and furniture were all very good and appropriate throughout the show, including, would you believe it, an iron lung. But it was the sheer sense of euphoria that emanated from the stage that carried the audience along with every step, every song and every gag in this show. The performers were having the time of their lives, and I’m sure that enthusiasm was inspired and instilled by an effusive Director. In the leading role of Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker, Cormac Malone was as slick as Elvis, as cool as James Dean, delightfully rebellious, and sometimes as nerdy as an awkward teenager taking his first steps towards romance, all of which perfectly suited his complex character. This was a great acting and comedy performance with an equally impressive vocal quality, which stretched from well-realised Rock-a-Billy to tender tones in the more romantic numbers. Rebecca Gamble, as Allison, really enjoy the juxtaposition of being an innocent ‘square’ in her local community and being a wannabe bad girl in the company of Wade. Played with strong comedy and a lovely voice, she had the perfect mix of innocent vulnerability and mischievous minx. Gavin Moloney got maximum hilarity from his portrayal of Baldwin Blandish, the dorky, barbershop-quartet leader, intent on winning the heart of Allison, at all costs. This was character acting of the finest quality, using voice, facial expression and body language to superb comedic effect, making him so likeable in his loathsomeness. The singing of the barbershop quartet was exceptional and quite hilarious, with Gavin taking the lead and ably supported by Luke Watson as Bob, Ben Cole as John and Sean Lonergan as Jonathan, each of whom had wonderful individual personalities, but as a team, had the audience rolling in the aisles. Their synchronized actions, movements and comments were comedy gold. Cian McKeon played Wade’s best friend, Dupree, the emcee of the Jukebox Jamboree at Turkey Point. Cian’s role was a fusion of cool Rock star and high camp, fronting some of the coolest rock numbers with great charisma, but also providing hilarious comedy, particularly in Can I Kiss You With Tongue. With a strong voice and great stage presence, this was a well-realized role. Comedic performance of the night, however, came from Yasmine Missaoui, as psychopathic stalker, Lenora. Her unrequited love for Wade has sent her cuckoo, as best demonstrated in her hilarious lament, Screw Loose. This was a master-class in comedy, using every move, gesture, glance and word to maximum effect and having the audience in fits. Her imaginary friend wasn’t credited in the program, but Yasmine did convince me that she really did exist. Allison’s Grandmother, Mrs Vernon-Williams, was very well portrayed by Jennifer McGuire Noriant, bringing a wealth of experience in character/comedy to the role of an apparently squeaky clean, upstanding citizen who lives with a dark secret. Added to her strong comedy was an equally strong voice, best demonstrated in the very amusing I Did Something Wrong, Once. A feisty, fiery trio of volatile vixens appeared in the shape of Chloe Murphy Foley as Mona “Hatchet Face” Malnorowski, Nicole Kennedy as Wanda Woodward, and Wade’s 16-year old pregnant little sister Pepper, played by Aine Murray. These three followed Wade from the wrong side of the tracks and made their presence felt among the rich folk with sass, sex and seriously side-splitting comedy. That they could all belt out a good tune was a big bonus for these three very talented performers. Completing the principal line-up, Desmond Daly made a very credible Judge Stone, and suitor to Allison’s Grandmother. The two distinct choruses in the show were the Nerds (or squares) and the Drapes (or Rockers), and both captured the essence of their identity quite brilliantly, the former being smug in their superiority and aghast at the disgusting behaviour of the latter, and the latter exuding the angst, rebellion and in-your-face attitude of the kids from the wrong side of the tracks. Both groups performed with raw energy and a very splendid level of dance ability, and none were found wanting when it came to vocal strength and clarity. Indeed, I’m quite sure Musical Director, Dave McGauran, was most impressed with their work rate. He, in return, led a brilliant band with untold energy and exuberance, appearing on the projection screen, during the overture, not just playing and conducting, but also shouting out the house rules, (no photography, no mobile phones, etc;) in rhythm to the music. The band perfectly captured the energy and feel of the Rock-a-Billy score, but also found the right level of mellowness for the more-gentle numbers. Harmonies and diction were always crisp and clear, but topping the musical charts were the hilarious barbershop contributions from the Whiffles. Pure magic. Choreographer, Julianne McNamara, had a field-day, playing with the wide variety of styles and rhythms that this show presents. Her interpretation of the score, from the ‘twee’ nerdiness of the ‘squares’ routines, to the robust energy-driven gyrations of the rockers, was of the highest standard and thoroughly engaging to behold. From high camp to high class, the dances were a riot of ecstasy and energy, and performed with zeal by a company that just didn’t want to be restrained. Completing the look and atmosphere of the show was a wardrobe that varied from the prim, pastels of the posh people to garish and outrageous attire for the rockers. Pepper’s pregnancy bump was brilliant, but it was “Hatchet-face” Mona’s appearance that high-lighted the joint achievement of costumes and the make-up team. Her scars were truly brutal, and latterly, her bandaged face was hilarious. The Whiffles always looked immaculately dapper. I have no doubt that, based on the strength and the fun of this production, many adventurous companies might like to have a crack at this show in the future, and that is as much as I need to say about the excellent standard of production and performance that Malahide presented. It was a great thrill to be there for this Irish Premiere, and my sincere thanks to all concerned for a wonderful and hilarious night of musical theatre. Peter Kennedy Gilbert Adjudicator 2023 / 2024 Some Photos kindly shared by the society - Photographer - Pauline Maguire

9 to 5 as presented by Trim Musical Society

9 to 5 as presented by Trim Musical Society Date of Adjudicated Performance: Thursday 15th February 2024. I think it was sometime last...

9 to 5 as presented by Trim Musical Society Date of Adjudicated Performance: Thursday 15th February 2024. I think it was sometime last season that I suggested that 9 to 5 could be alternatively titled “Me Too, The Musical”, dealing, as it does, with the problems of misogyny in the workplace, but doing so with a delightfully comical perspective. This particular production, by Trim Musical Society, had three very strong females who had no problem at all in striking a blow for feminism, and doing so with a great deal of comedy and character. Director, Stephen Acton, managed to create scenes that had the feel of a busy office environment without ever looking over-crowded and still allowed for good routines and movement. Indeed, the set for this production was absolutely delightful, based around a time piece motif, beautifully painted, and creating a clean, fresh, modern office environment. It was moved about the stage with stealth by Stage Manager, Frank Connolly and his team, who were super- efficient all night. There was beautiful attention to detail in the various office settings with appropriate furnishings and fixtures. Most striking was the large screen, centre stage, that gave us varied backgrounds and some very good effects and information, but the reason it worked so well was the perspective painting on the surrounding flats that gave every picture a great feeling of depth and space. With a very strong cast, there was good attention to individuality among the characters, but it was the business between the three main characters that flowed very naturally and formed a wonderful bond between them, never more evident than in their pot-smoking scene, which was hilariously played by them all. The dream sequences were very well devised, as was Roz’s cheer-leader fantasy, which gave a novel approach to Heart to Hart. The pace of the show was excellent from start to finish, and I admired Stephen’s decision to omit the usual screen footage of Dolly Parton narrating the introduction. It adds little to the show and has, by now, lost its novelty appeal. As already alluded to, Choreographer, Laura Douglas, succeeded well in devising clean and exciting routines for the opening scenes of the show that negotiated office furniture and limited space without ever looking uncomfortably crowded. Her dream sequences were well thought out and varied, and very well-executed by her dancers. One of the Boys was the show-piece of Act Two in a display that always looked fluent, precise and energetic. The chorus performed all that Laura had set for them with efficiency and energy, and I’m quite sure that Chorus Master, Ben Cully, was equally impressed with the work they put into their harmonies and vocal quality. Thanks to strong leadership from Musical Director, Dermot O’Callaghan, there was always a good balance between the orchestra and the vocalists, and the very fine band of musicians really seemed to enjoy the rhythms and tones of their music. If the set for the show was attractive, it was certainly enhanced by a very good lighting design, with great use of back and side lighting and very smooth transitions from one state to another, resulting in some very beautiful pictures on the stage. The tone and colours always seemed just perfect for the action, and coupled with a highly efficient sound desk, well balanced microphones, well-executed effects and good secure cueing, the overall technical presentation of the show was of the highest quality. But the Director, the Musical Director, the Choreographer and the Chorus Master are all very dependent on a talented and thoroughly engaged cast to bring their ideas to life, and in this respect, Trim put forward a very strong and impressive team. With great authority, much bottled-up frustration, and yet a kind and caring heart, Violet Newstead was perfectly portrayed by Jenny McCabe, who realized the various levels of her character, with good comedic sense and a warm and strong vocal quality. Her relationship with Hart was delightfully volatile, while there was sincerity and restrained affection in her dealings with love-interest, Joe. But it was her bonding with Doralee and Judy that gave rise to the most enjoyable scenes of the show. Not surprising, as in Doralee, she met her match in terms of righteous indignation and genuine warmth of character, as beautifully expressed by Louise Cassidy. As the character based loosely on Dolly Parton herself, Louise found an authentic southern Belle accent, sported a fantastic blonde wig, and treated us to some impressive country-style singing. As with Jenny, she was strong on comedy and drama. Giving the stand out vocal performance of the night with Get Out and Stay Out, Anna Bergin was also a highly comical, bundle of nervous energy and agitation in the role of Judy Bernly. Her transition from nervy, insecure, recently jilted wife, to a scarily enthusiastic feminist was a hilarious journey, culminating in that powerhouse of a solo. Yet again, though, the real magical moments came when the three ladies were together as a team. The object of their mutual disgust came in the shape of Kevin Hartnett, portraying the loathsome, superior, misogynistic jerk, Franklin Hart. Kevin played the role with tongue firmly-in-cheek, and a great sense of the ridiculous, turning in a brilliant comedic performance, enhanced by quality vocals. What Kevin was to shallowness, Colin Flynn was to sincerity, in a beautifully played Joe. Ever the perfect gentleman, yet with a loveable persistence, he gently wooed and won the heart of Violet, and along the way, they blended perfectly in a truly lovely rendition of Love Can Grow. Jenny Seery turned in a highly entertaining performance as Roz Keith, the office crank with a giddy, lustful desire to be the object of Hart’s affection. An absolute bundle of energy, she cavorted with unrestrained ardour in Hart’s presence, and her well-delivered Heart to Hart was comedy gold. There were convincing and commendable performances from Sam Lee as Dwayne Rhodes, sincere and supportive of Doralee, Aaron Stone as the love-rat husband of Judy, Grace Cosgrove as the feisty, fired-and-then-reinstated Maria Delgado, Luck Farrell as Violet’s pot supplying son, Josh, and Clare Murray as office stalwart Kathy. Further notable performances came from Siobhan Dobie as the rather scatter-brained wife, Missy Hart, Sean Fox as high flying Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tinsworthy, and a neat cameo performance from Liam Foley as the Xerox Man. Last but certainly not least, was a rather brilliant portrayal of office lush, Margaret, from the highly talented stalwart of Trim, Gwen Bagnall. It helped considerably with the creation of individual characters that everyone was beautifully turned out in appropriate and well-selected costumes. From the everyday office attire to the more stylized outfits of the Dream ballet sequences and One Of The Boys, costuming was most effective and matched by the great attention to detail of make-up and hairstyles/wigs. The transformation from office lush to elegant lady that happened to Margaret was wonderful, and typified the standard of the visual presentation of the whole show, as did the well-thought out transformation of the office scenes when the ladies took control of décor. This was my first visit to the Swift Cultural Centre in Trim, and it was certainly a comfortable and accommodating venue. I’m quite sure that the Musical Society appreciated the facilities, and they most certainly made the most of them, presenting this wonderfully warm and entertaining production of 9 to 5. Thank you for a great night in good company. Peter Kennedy Gilbert Adjudicator 2023 / 2024 Some Photos kindly shared by the society - Photographer - Nathan Maher

FULLY BOOKED: AIMS Summer Youth Workshop

APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST. The AIMS Youth Workshop is taking place from Sunday 30th of June to Friday 5th...

APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST. The AIMS Youth Workshop is taking place from Sunday 30th of June to Friday 5th of July in the Ursuline Convent, Thurles. We are thrilled to welcome back our dream team production team, Peter, Stephanie and Shane. Could this be YOUR year to attend the AIMS Youth Workshop?  Don't delay and get your application in today! The cost for the week is €320  with a deposit of €160  before 10th of May  with the Balance of €160  due by 7th of June . Don't forget there are also some Bursaries available to attend the Workshop too.

Young Frankenstein as Presented by Tipperary Musical Society

Young Frankenstein as presented by Tipperary MS Date of Adjudicated Performance: Wednesday 14th February 2024. As musical comedies go,...

Young Frankenstein as presented by Tipperary MS Date of Adjudicated Performance: Wednesday 14th February 2024. As musical comedies go, Young Frankenstein is not for the faint-hearted nor the prudish, for it combines Mary Shelley’s wonderful horror story with Mel Brook’s somewhat irreverent sense of humour. Sex, it has to be said, is frequently and fairly graphically referenced throughout the show, albeit in a hilarious manner, and no better man to be responsible for guiding this production onto the stage than director Paul Norton, who is not one to shy away from anything controversial. I am at a loss to imagine how one could present a sanitized version of this show, but in Paul’s hands, that was never going to be an issue. What he did present us with was a well-thought out, well-rehearsed, beautifully prepared piece of irreverence, with lots of personal touches thrown in along the way. Having a good set with added projections was a great bonus. The screens were used most effectively in the journey through the woods, where pantomime horses pulled a hay-rick along the road of a moving forest landscape. There was great detail too in the laboratory scenes, with lots of fancy looking electrical switches, a wonderful rising platform, and good technical effects. The Puttin’ on the Ritz sequence was another strong technical achievement, very cleverly using a gauze and back lighting. Under Stage Manager, Alma Quinn, the stage crew worked hard to limit the blackouts during scene changes and did well, given the amount of movement required. The walk-through wall, cut in the shape of the Monster when he enters the Hermits cabin was another piece of clever and witty creation. What also contributed to the success of this production was an unexpected excellent musical score, full of good choruses, varied styles and rhythms, and wonderful orchestrations that the very accomplished orchestra, under Musical Director, Mary Rose McNally, really got their teeth into. Puttin’ on the Ritz was the only very familiar number, but there were great comedy songs, a smattering of G&S-ish patter, and village choruses reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast. The chorus were very strong in bringing all their numbers to life, true in their harmonies and crystal clear with their lyrics. Likewise, the principals were obviously very well prepared musically, as several of their numbers were very demanding. The musical balance of each number was very good and tone and tempi always seemed appropriate in what was a musical feast. That most of the choral pieces were performed while negotiating Stephanie Browne’s energetic dance routines was a tribute to the determination of the performers. Stephanie did a great job of creating routines that captured the moment; strong and driven when the villagers were in pursuit of the monster, light and airy when they were singing happy songs, but without question, the number of the show was the combination of comedy, technology and terpsichorean treasure that was Puttin’ on the Ritz. But the real success of this show was the faith that the cast put in their director. Paul Norton asked them for some pretty outrageous behavior, some very inelegant poses and positions and some frightfully crass gestures and gesticulations, and they did not disappoint him. The show succeeded because everyone seemed to be singing off the same song sheet. There were one or two silent moments when some of the close-up, visual gags from the movie did not have quite the same comedic impact when played out on stage, but they were few and far between. As for the performances, Kevin Reade showed that he had the acting, the comedy, the fancy footwork, and the singing required to successfully play the demanding central role of Dr. Fredrick von Frankenstein. With very good facial expression, he related the transition from denial of his family name to a crazed reawakening of his Grandfathers genes, as he progressed through the series of events. His vocal delivery was very strong, with perfect diction to allow the wordy patter-style numbers to be clearly understood. Emmet Donlan got great physical comedy out of the role of Igor, stooped and awkward, but always light on his feet. His Vocals were consistently good, and he pointed his verbal comedy very effectively. His relationship with Frankenstein was particularly strong. The highlight of a wonderful outing from Emma Sunderland, as Inga, was her vocally brilliant yodeling, but it was her willingness to be flamboyantly unrestrained in her lust-laden encounters with Frankenstein that brought out the strength of her acting and comedy. It is not a comment I would make often, but her flexibility was certainly a benefit to this excellent performance. And talking of excellence, perhaps the comedic performance of the night came from Deirdre Ryan as Frau Blücher. Both physically and verbally, she inhabited her character, making the most of every look and every gesture, and showing a great understanding of comedic timing, and if all that was not enough, her rendition of He Vas My Boyfriend was hilarious and show-stopping. Rachael Breen brought an arrogance and heaps of comical vanity to the character of Elizabeth Benning. Please Don’t Touch Me and Deep Love were delivered with panache, but perhaps her finest comedic moments came with her commitment to being ravished by the Monster. Adam Skeffington had great fun with the role of the Monster, grunting and moaning through his scenes. His gait and stature were effective and with his built-up boots, effective costume, and excellent make-up, he certainly made the required impression, but it was a brilliantly delivered Puttin’ on the Ritz that was the highlight of his performance. Derek Ryan used his wealth of experience to make the most of the physical comedy of Inspector Kemp, with his effective limp and well-timed business with his prosthetic arm. His stature combined with his vocal gravitas made him the perfect authoritative figure among the villagers. James O’Donovan created a gentle yet comedic Hermit, secure in the delivery of his delightfully funny Please Send Me Someone and Eimhin O’Meara displayed an appropriate befuddled vacancy in portraying village idiot, Ziggy. Last but not least, Cole Flanagan impressed greatly as Victor von Frankenstein, leading the mad scientists with a strong voice and great dance ability in Join the Family Business. As mentioned, the gauze lighting was excellent, as was the use of projections, and for the most part, general lighting was very atmospheric and appealing with good variations in colour and tone. Only occasionally were pieces of principal action muted by low light level, but overall, very well done. The coordination of the many sound effects was crisp and assured, and levels were well maintained throughout the show. Cueing of radio mics was most satisfactory, with only a rare grumbling mic, most likely caused by costume disruption during the ‘frolicking’ scenes. Combined with these technical achievements, the visuals for the show were top-notch, with universally excellent costumes, from scientists to villagers to a great display of principal outfits that were totally appropriate to the character of each individual. More impressive still were the wigs and make-up, with the monster looking very impressive, and the usually elegant and demure Deirdre Ryan being hideously transformed into something sinister and unappealing, which richly enhanced her character. Hats off to the props team too, who ensured that the vast array of props and furniture were appropriate to the era. I suppose when you combine the comedy genius of Mel Brooks with the devil-may-care attitude of Director, Paul Norton, you should not be at all surprised if the result is something that walks the tightrope between sanity and insanity. On this occasion, the outcome was an insanely funny, albeit extremely risqué, piece of mischievous, musical magic, and it was a pleasure to attend and enjoy the efforts of all concerned in the performance and production. Peter Kennedy Gilbert Adjudicator 2023 / 2024 Some photos kindly shared by the society - Photos by William O'Brien

The Little Mermaid as Presented by Shannon Musical Society

The Little Mermaid as presented by Shannon Musical Society: Date of Adjudicated Performance: Tuesday 13th February, 2024. What is the...

The Little Mermaid as presented by Shannon Musical Society:   Date of Adjudicated Performance: Tuesday 13 th February, 2024.   What is the world coming too? Never did I imagine that I would someday witness a show where people play fish with wheels, crabs, and all manner of weird sea-creatures, where a woman with a false moustache would play a demented Chef and where a cross-dressing man would play an octopus, looking like a monstrous cross between Caitlin Jenner and Cruella de Ville. It was almost enough to completely addle my brain. Who knew that The Little Mermaid could provide a canvass for such an extreme display of flamboyance and creative imagination? The man behind this flight of fancy was Director, Tony Finnegan, and, call me ‘woke’, but I think he’s perfectly entitled to put his unique stamp on what is, after all, a surreal and fantastical fairy-tale. Tony pulled out all the stops to bring this Disney classic to life on the stage. From excellent water and wave effects, using material and lights, to mermaids who ‘glided’ on wheels instead of walking, to flamboyantly dressed characters to a dazzling set, from gentle focus on the romantic elements of the story to outrageously brilliant exaggeration of the comical characters, his attention to every aspect of the production was most impressive. The finale of Act One was a prime example of vision, choreography, technical wizardry and spectacle all rolled together as Ariel found her feet and swam higher and higher to find dry land, and it epitomized the great creative thinking behind this whole production. From the beautifully designed, painted and utilized set, to a neatly plotted lighting design, this was such a well-presented show. Tony handled the atmosphere of the underwater world with a combination of great visuals, appropriate movement and excellent sound effects. The gently babbling water throughout created its own perfect ambiance, and indeed the sound levels generally were very even and well-cued. The bubble lighting effects worked particularly well on the gently wafting net curtains, and there was a strong and sensitive use of good colour washes and combinations. The only slight hiccup in the lighting plot was the few occasions when moving heads were used as follow spots and had trouble keeping pace with the swiftly moving actors, but they did always get them in the end. Movement of props and scenic pieces was tidy and timely, in the safe hands of Stage Manager, Ted Germaine and an efficient team. The challenge for Choreographer, Karen Barrett, was to create routines that captured the type of creatures being featured in each number; seagulls moving like birds, mermaids moving like fish, etc, and what a great job she did. The wheels worn by the mermaids helped considerably in making them glide, rather than walking, and they performed their beautiful routines with great skill. The birds flapped and flustered through their comedic number, and the humans, fortune to have legs, were extremely polished in their sailor and townsfolk routines. Karen put so much thought into every dance, but it was the superb fusion of costumes, make-up, scenery and the wonderfully imaginative, ever-changing patterns that made Under The Sea an absolute show-stopper. Of course, it might all have fallen flat had she not been fortunate enough to have a highly talented chorus to bring it to life. Discipline was of the essence with so much activity and exaggerated costumes, and their every move, whether in dance or as scene-shifters, was meticulously choreographed so that the stage never appeared over-crowded. And it didn’t end there. I’m quite sure Musical Director, Carmel Griffin, was just as impressed with their dedication to strong, clear harmonies and perfect diction. Carmel also led a very finely tuned orchestra from the piano. Their tone and tempi throughout were spot on, and the balance between pit and stage was well-maintained. As with the chorus, great work had also been done on principal vocals, always capturing the right tone for each number. And what a gifted line-up of principals was on show. Sally Fox and Eoghan Mann could not have been better cast as Ariel and Prince Eric, encapsulating the qualities required for the Disney-style romantic couple. She, the sweet, innocent yet vulnerable Princess, fair of face and with an angelic quality to her voice, and he, the impetuous, boyishly handsome young Prince, in search of true love, with a well-sung song in his heart. These two worked as beautifully together as individually, strongly realizing the characters that are so loved by Disney aficionados. High quality recordings of Sally singing were used when Ariel was mute, to which she mimed her emotions beautifully. At only 15 years of age, James Cullinan took to the role of Flounder like a duck…well, like a fish to water, and in the presence of much more experienced players, he most certainly didn’t flounder, not even for a second. Like the cheeky-chap of his character, he beamed with confidence, securely presented his comedic abilities, and dynamically led the mersisters in an excellent rendition of She’s in Love. Very well-played. Sebastian, the red Jamaican crab, (for those who misguidedly think he might be a lobster), was brilliantly realized by Brian Roche, whose accent throughout (including welcoming the audience) was spot on, as was his comedy. No crusty crustacean here, but a vibrant, hyper thyroid of a crab who rocked the house as the front man for the show-stopping Under The Sea. In an excellent flamboyant costume, Julita Fox the role of the scatterbrained Scuttle, a sea bird with an overactive imagination and a flair for inventing her own vocabulary. Played with superb character, Julita strutted the stage with terrific comedic charm and raised the roof with a delightfully, delirious Positoovity. Colm McGuinness, attired in a fabulous costume and wig, played the role of King Triton with poise and authority. His acting was sincere, and while the women in the audience seemed mostly enamored by his rippling muscular chest, (yes, he was topless!), it was the quality of his vocals that impressed me most, both velvety in tone and strong and secure in delivery. Eoin Sheedy gave a stalwart and steadfast performance as Grimsby, full of pomp and circumstance but with a likeable, gentler side. Very nicely played. Then there was the sextet of fishy femininity, the mesmerizing Mersisters, delightfully portrayed by Kim Burke, (Aquata), Holly Dunphy, (Allana), Lauren O’Brien, (Arista), Jane Henry, (Atina), Jaymee Carrig, (Adella) and Kate Barrett, (Andrina). Collectively, they performed so well together, wheeling and dancing around the stage with great stealth, and vocally, except when they were deliberately unpleasant, they were extremely accomplished. Furthermore, they all managed to have little individual traits that made them identifiable. Beautifully attired, they were such an impressive and talented team. And from the sublime to the ridiculous. I’m almost lost for words in describing how disturbing Aodan Fox’s first appearance was. Considering the role of Disney’s Ursula is believed to have been modelled on Drag Queen, Divine, I shouldn’t have been at all surprised that Tony Finnegan chose to have it recreated by Aodan, who was anything BUT divine, but this was a performance out of the very top drawer of character/comedy, helped along by a brilliant costume, a toxic wig and superbly grotesque make-up. But it was the acting of Aodan himself, and his ability to deliver lyrics with just the right level of vim and verve, that made this such a memorable performance. Not to be out-done in the cross-dressing stakes, Anna Maria Barrett, (Aodan’s wife) donned a chef’s hat and a fake moustache to create a hilarious cameo role as Chef Louie, obsessed with fish dishes and intimidating crabs. Anna Maria’s delivery of Les Poissons created great mirth in the audience, as did her delightfully comical appearance. Alison Coady and Ciara Lynch made easy work of controlling the puppets for Flotsam and Jetsam, the electric eels who assisted Ursula with her dirty work. As well as good movement, the girls impressed with some strong vocals in their numbers. Darren O’Dea was a secure and reliable Pilot in the ship scenes and Ethan Cassley and Shane O’Donnell, as well as dancing in the choruses, also contributed comedy and character as footmen, Leeward and Winward. Various chorus members also played a variety of cameos, including Child maids, Maeve McGuirk and Phoebe O’Mahony, who performed sign language with Ariel during her mute scenes. You really could sense Disney written all over this production, and particularly in the visual spectacle on display. I’ve already mentioned the vibrant and highly colourful scenery and the beautiful lighting of the net curtains, but the costumes were really what caught the eye, from the beautiful floaty outfits of the mermaids to the colourful creations of the fish, from the craziest crab garb to the hideously superb octopus. Even the sailors and the members of Prince Eric’s court were immaculate in their attire. I can only wonder at the time it must have taken to attend to the make-up and wigs each night, as the amount of detail in all the non human characters was superb. It says something about this company’s team spirit that the Front of House display and hospitality is always on the same level as their commitment to putting a great show on the stage. The foyer was beautifully adorned with facts, features, photos and, on this occasion, fish. Great work. I’m quite sure this is a show that could easily be done badly, for it needs a high level of magic and mystery to make a cartoon believable in a live performance venue, but I feel assured that not only did Tony bring out the best of this story, but it also brought out the best of him. Thanks to all involved. Job done! Peter Kennedy Gilbert Adjudicator 2023 / 2024 Some photos kindly shared by the society - Photos by Jim Rocks

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