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Sister Act

12 Nov 2024

Waterford Musical Society Presents EVITA

30 Apr 2024

Calendar Girls

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15 Oct 2024


Rock of Ages as Presented by Tullamore Musical Society

Rock of Ages as performed by Tullamore Musical Society Date of Adjudicated Performance: Monday 12th February, 2024 Undaunted by an...

Rock of Ages as performed by Tullamore Musical Society Date of Adjudicated Performance: Monday 12 th February, 2024   Undaunted by an audience who seemed to be suffering from Monday night blues, the cast of Tullamore’s Rock of Ages injected energy, enthusiasm, wit and a wealth of rockin’ good music into bringing the show to life, and it paid off, for they did eventually get the response from the audience that their efforts deserved, for this was a very strong cast and a very strong production. Rock of Ages is basically a jukebox musical with many familiar tunes and a bucket full of well-drawn characters. Director, Claire Tighe, enhanced the story by playing those characters somewhat larger than life, and it was the correct route to take, focusing on the comedy content of the piece. But she didn’t allow moments of pathos or romance to be side-lined either, and the show benefitted from some lovely poignant moments. With so many great up beat numbers to work on, she all went to town on the endless opportunities for creative choreography. There were big, bright, mass movement numbers involving the whole chorus, and some more adventurous pieces for the night-club dancers, all of which were performed with a very assured level of achievement. Claire was blessed to have a whole chorus of very capable movers, who gave great energy and good polish to all their routines. Whether straddling chairs, or men, dancing and singing as patrons of the Bourbon Room or protesting the developers in the street, they integrated very successfully into the action of every scene. Their vocal quality, whether on-stage or in the wings, was tuneful, harmonious and presented with clear diction, even while brilliantly executing their routines. Indeed, the vocal quality throughout the show was greatly enhanced by a tight 5-piece rock band, under the leadership of Musical Director, Enda O’Connor on keyboards, who immersed themselves in the music and got the feel just right. That they were constantly on stage, very visible and responding to the action was an added bonus. Balance was good all night, and respect was shown to the quieter ballad numbers, but when the band hit the crescendos of the better known rock anthems, they were at their best and obviously enjoyed their playing. The musical preparation of the chorus and principals was evident in the clear and precise delivery of harmonies. Chris Corroon, in the central role of narrator Lonny, doubtless used his significant Panto experience to reach out and drag the audience along with his very zany, very sexual, brazen humour. This was a top-notch comedic performance, both visually and verbally outrageous, but always under control. His faux rock-star vocals were strong and articulate, as he ran amok with a relaxed and assured stage presence. His love/mutual admiration number with Dennis was a high point of the show. Excellent performance. Stephen Keegan’s greatest achievement in the role of Dennis was maintaining that unhealthy, rasping old-rocker voice, not only in his dialogue but also his songs, and remaining articulate throughout. This was another strong character performance, with a very good sense of comedic timing and the perfect look for the role. His partnership with Lonny was beautifully sincere and deliciously comical. Jordan Bass, in the role of Drew, had the opportunity to put his many talents on display, and on this occasion, it was his acting and comedy that impressed me most, always looking relaxed and confident and creating a beautiful, believable relationship with Sherrie. Vocally, the rock-style screaming of a few numbers was well-balanced against the tender tones of the more romantic songs. Jessie Woods, as Sherrie, may have been just a small town girl, but she was big on character and strong on personality. She created a most endearing persona, sincere in her fractured relationship with her father, robust and optimistic in her ambitions, and delightfully affectionate in her regard for Drew. Her acting and singing were great, but it was the beautiful tone and quality of her vocals that impacted me most in an all-round highly impressive performance. Stephen Rabbette seemed to really enjoy portraying the sleazy, supercilious, fading rock-star, Stacee Jaxx. He played the misogynist to a T, slimy in his sexually charged exchanges and repugnant enough to make it a pleasure to see Sherrie diminish him in his later scenes. This was very nicely played and very well sung. Ruth Kelly played the strip club Madame, Justice, with a good mixture of devious Diva and motherly caring. A convincing natural leader of the dance-hall girls, and possessing strength of character and vocal quality, she was at her best in her most tender moments with Sherrie. Excellent comedy and caricature were the hallmarks of the performance of Natalee Kelly in the role of Regina. She played the rebellious campaigner with charm and determination, but it was her delightful seduction of Franz that displayed her great comedic timing and sense of fun. Her songs were delivered with panache. Delightfully ridiculous, deliciously camp, and comically crazy were the antics of Barry Dunne as Franz, transitioning most effectively from the wimpish down-trodden son of a ruthless father, to the comical, colourful and confident aspiring confectioner, inspired by his love interest in Regina. Their Hit Me With Your Best Shot was a comedic high-light of their performances. Liam Egan strutted with Germanic authority in a well-delivered performance as Hertz, the ruthless real estate corporate giant who would wipe out the Bourbon Lounge and all of Sunset Strip. Again, a nicely developed character who eventually finds the errors of his ways, played with a sense of fun and good vocals. Jamie O’Callaghan made an impressive Joey Primo, and Ger Dunne a believable Ja’Keith. Liam Cushen was a formidable greedy Mayor, Ron Kelly succeeded as a less than sensitive father to Sherrie, and Bláthnaid Fitzsimons nicely portrayed her slightly less judgmental mother. Sinead Handy made a good contribution as Constance and deputized some vocals for Amanda Cunningham’s convincing waitress who was suffering from laryngitis. There were also several cameo roles played very capably by members of the chorus, and the dancers established good individuality in the performance of their routines. The action was played out on a well-designed and themed set, effectively used tables built like amplifiers and doors like great banks of speakers to create the various locations in and around the Bourbon Room. An upper walkway with the band tucked neatly underneath provided the centre-piece, with a revolve stage L. These were all well employed, as were projection screens on the upper level that helped to suggest locations, and allowed for some amusing comedy effects. Stage Manager, Wayne Handy, who also built and designer the set, was super-efficient, often using members of the cast to assist with placing props and pieces. I would perhaps have liked to see more bric-a-brac and memorabilia strewn about the Bourbon Room to give it a more living/breathing ambiance, but otherwise, the set was dressed most satisfactorily, and it was all enhanced by some very good mood lighting, strong colour washes and enough disco effects to give the right club atmosphere. Now and then, principals drifted into one or two shadowy patches, but it was usually only momentary, and overall, the lighting was very pleasing and appropriate. The wardrobe department certainly captured the essence of an era, with plenty of variety, ranging from angels, protesters and rock-chicks to scantily-clad lap-dancers. I loved Franz and Regina’s ‘reveal’ outfits. There was also great attention to wigs and make-up, and, having lived through such horrendous styles, I can verify their authenticity. This was my first visit to the Esker Arts Centre in Tullamore, and it really is a delightful new home for the musical society. I’m quite sure I’ll visit again, if I’m guaranteed a production as slick and enjoyable as this one. Thank you to Chairperson, Colin Hughes, for the warm welcome, and thank you to Claire, Enda and the entire production and performance team for such a high standard of delivery. Peter Kennedy Gilbert Adjudicator 2023 / 2024 Some photos kindly shared by the society - Photographer was Tom O' Hanlon.

Once as presented by The Odd Theatre Company

The Odd Theatre Company - Once the Musical Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge Performance Dates: 16th - 18th November 2023 Date of...

The Odd Theatre Company - Once the Musical Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge Performance Dates:  16th - 18th November 2023 Date of Adjudication: 17 th  November 2023  *Odd Theatre Company will be bringing 'Once' to the Dean Crowe Theatre in Athlone for one night only  on March 16th 2024 , Event details available here “THE STORY OF A GUY WHO GAVE UP ON LOVE AND MUSIC, AND THE GIRL WHO INSPIRED HIM TO DREAM AGAIN” Once is a musical based on the 2007 film of the same name by John Carney. The music and lyrics were by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. A Tale of Love, with a minimalist set and production, where the cast are the musicians, actors and singers. On reading the programme I found this to be immediately an interesting differential to the ‘norm’ if there is such a thing! The Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge is a very large venue and, on this evening, as I drove up the Main Street in Newbridge, I was immediately impressed by this lovely modern building festooned with lighting and there was a lovely buzz in the Foyer when I arrived. Front of House seemed a bit chaotic on first glimpse, but I was looked after well and taken to my seat. I think a few more on duty at front of house wouldn’t have gone amiss however there was a distinct buzz around which I absolutely love preshow. I took my seat and in doing so a group of musicians started playing on the stage – They were the cast treating us to a pre-show warm up. Again, something different!  The Theatre was full, and I met several people I had met from previous shows prior to this so it was clear that there were avid followers in the audience of this society and of this particular Musical which had already piqued my interest. Direction was by Mr Cian O’Dowd who also had responsibility for Co-Musical Director and played the part of Andrej (The Girls Flatmate), and accompanied on Accordion, Guitar, and Piano during the performance. Multitasking indeed.  Mr O’Dowd is also Co-Founder of the Odd Theatre Company. As this musical is minimalistic in its production and all actors are on stage throughout the show as far as I could see, then I can appreciate that in depth work was done with the cast, in close liaison with choreography and music. Indeed, the programme stated that 4 months of intense rehearsal was required as actors have to also learn all the music. The set comprised of a wooden bar akin to a pub centre stage with wooden chairs for the cast who sit down once their scene is over and another starts. An acoustic piano, some tables and lamps completed the set. As mentioned, the cast are also the orchestra. Mr O’Dowd stuck closely to professional production staging of this show, and it worked well for an amateur production. Scene changes were subtle with lighting cues, or movement of the onstage set and introducing various props to indicate a new scene.  It was very safe and assured direction. Choreographer for the show was Ms Aine Foley. Choreography for this show is quite minimalistic. However, there were a few numbers which required some careful choreography as the cast had to dance sing and play their musical instruments. Not a very easy task but one that worked very well. Particular noting the finale OF Act 1 ‘GOLD’ which I really enjoyed, and it felt very natural and spontaneous. A sign of a cast in total control of their movement. Well Done Ms Foley. Mr O’Dowd and Ms Keelin Kilduff were the Co Musical Directors. I liked the music in this production. This is not your normal straightforward musical as there is no traditional scene changes or Chorus or Orchestra rather each cast member plays an instrument – and all were gifted I may add. Ms Kilduff also had a part on stage as ‘Girl’ and played the piano whilst Mr O’Dowd as mentioned played three instruments and played the supporting part of Andrej. This group sounded beautiful together on stage and seemed to be very well rehearsed and a very strong bond exuded from the stage consistently. Musical Direction was very effective and, as there was no conductor or Orchestra, this Company needed to be very well rehearsed, and they were. What is different to most musicals that I see is that in this musical ALL the music had to be learnt off by heart- No musical score in sight. Bravo. As a group you are all so multi-talented. Given the huge number of songs in this production. With 30 numbers in total inclusive of scene changing musical fillers, the music and its overall quality really was a highlight for me. Technically also this show was very good with excellent lighting by Anthony Quinn Brennan and Sound by Conor Wilkins – both areas were absolutely perfect and enhanced the show greatly. I can only commend you both on the huge impact both your areas reflected in such a positive way for this show. There were many lighting cues throughout as mentioned and the importance of them to highlight scene changes worked very well. The sound was very good throughout with not a word or note unheard. There was a magnificent sound from the piano, and it was played beautifully by Ms Keelin Kilduff. Very crisp and acoustically super. The cast moved all the props and sets themselves as part of the production onstage and in fact this was seamless and proved to be very effective. Visually there was a lovely, homely atmosphere here on this stage and everyone was extremely comfortable with one another – a great bond was obvious to me in the audience between this small very happy and successful group and that was lovely to see. The cast looked great dressed in their appropriate clothing reflecting their lives and or job/status and I can only presume that they sourced the costumes themselves as there was no costuming credit in the programme. Well done cast, it worked. Adam Trundle played the part and male lead of Guy (and also Guitar) in this performance. A born natural on stage I loved your character. No self- belief, low self-esteem, down in the dumps and living at home with your dad, a recent widow. But Guy loves music and you portrayed that brilliantly. With your guitar and your beautiful voice, you took us on your journey of melancholy loneliness, finding love, and your gift of music. ‘Leave ‘was the opening number of the show and it was super, “Falling Slowly” sung by Mr Trundle and Girl- Ms Kilduff was also so beautiful. “Say it to me now” was emotional and sung with great feeling. I must mention “Sleeping” in Act 2, which was so good. Bravo. A massive part, but you acted, sang, and made this part your own and I enjoyed every step of your performance. Well done. Girl was played by Ms Keelin Kilduff who also played piano in this production and may I add – beautifully. Ms Kilduff was also Co-Musical Director as mentioned. Your portrayal of Girl with your clipped no nonsense shoots from the hip humour endeared me to you immensely. You brought Guy from a dark world to a brighter world with love and lovely vocals and talented musicianship on piano. It was clearly obvious that you took Guy from his lonely place to a place where warmth friendship family and love can all work in harmony together and you were a wonderful “Girl” with beautiful empathy towards Guy and eventually love. And especially for me, “When Your Mind’s Made Up” with Guy and the ensemble was one of the highlights of this show. Beautiful performance. Well done. Billy was played by Daniel Ryan who again also played Cajon and Harmonica. A great part, full of life and fun and energy and Mr Ryan played this part brilliantly. There was an energy from you on stage that I loved and a professionalism that enveloped the stage each time you spoke. Loved your part. Loved what you created in Billy and in working with the others particularly throughout this show your character shone. Well done on this role Mr Ryan. Shauna Maguire played the part of Reza – and played Violin for this performance. A great stage presence, you were a lovely Reza who played this part beautifully throughout you brought Reza to life with a simplicity and a talent, and I enjoyed your performance immensely. Gearoid McGauran played the part of Bank Manager. What a great part and you made it yours. You lit up the stage each time you appeared, you have a marvellous stage presence, and you command attention such is the ability and charm to your acting in this performance. A great guitar player to boot. I particularly like the scene where you are with Guy & Girl where they are looking for a loan and then Boom! I get the feeling you enjoyed this role immensely and it showed. You transformed into a guitar playing macho man. You have wonderful comedic timing, and you had the audience in the palm of your hand. I looked forward to you coming on stage each time. “Abandoned In Bandon” was simply Class. Well done. Da was played by Mr Conor Kilduff, also playing Guitar for this performance. A very talented gentleman and a stalwart of Theatre. There is no such thing as a small part and Mr Kilduff shone in this role. I loved this performance and wanted to see more of this gentleman on stage. Beautiful fluid movement and expertise and showed a vulnerability in his loneliness on the sad loss of his wife and coping with life without. A gorgeous relationship with his son, Guy and a stage presence and story that endeared me to you in this role. Well done. Baruska was played by Ms Helena Begley. She was also on guitar and melodica. It was lovely to see such an instrument as the melodica being played and played beautifully. You are a very talented performer – super acting, vocals and of course the Melodica especially! An excellent performance by Ms Begley As mentioned earlier the part of Andrej was played by Mr Cian O’Dowd who also Co musically directed and choreographed and played accordion, guitar and Piano. WOW! So many facets to deal with but you played this part well as the fast-food employee with big aspirations. Mr Paul McCarrick played the part of Svec and again, also played Cajon and Mandolin. A lovely character with a big heart and again a vulnerability that made you like this young gentleman in this role immediately. I believe you loved this character of yours the character you created here and rightly so. You were an immense Svec. A great role that suited you. Mr Mark Trundle played the part of Eamon and what a great role this is, made even better by Mr Trundle playing this part. This gentleman has a powerful stage presence and again also played the guitar superbly. There was a quietness about Mr Trundles performance that made the audience want to hear more. A magnificently and appropriately cast character, Mr Trundles small but full performance were one of the highlights of this show. Loved this gentleman. Well done. Ex-Girlfriend is played by Ms Emma O’Dowd, who also plays instruments Bass Ukulele and Ukulele. A joy to watch on stage with a magnificent smile which would most certainly light up any stage if there was a power cut. What a lovely young lady, who has been part of this Society since its inception. Great stage presence and beautifully played. Never lose that infectious smile Ms O’Dowd. Bravo! Emcee was played by Ms Aine Winter. Who also plays the flute throughout this show. A lovely stage presence and natural ability to act it was a joy to watch you on stage Ms Winter, and I do hope I will see you again soon on another stage. Well done. The lovely Ivonka was played by Ms Alma Moynihan. A small but very important role for this young lady and perfected it beautifully. A natural on stage I do hope Ms Moynihan that you continue to be a part of musicals as long as you can as you have a special talent, and you are so young it really was a joy to watch you perform. Bravo! As the cast mentioned above are also the ensemble the traditional musical chorus doesn’t really exist. Rather a tight knit sound when all performed together which sounded super throughout the theatre and I really enjoyed these moments where the cast got together to create wonderful moments. You were all so close and there is an obvious close bond that exuded from the stage and well done to you all as a super ensemble unit. Beautiful. Well done. This was my first time seeing Once and, as part of this role as adjudicator, one will often adjudicate a show that is a change to the ‘norm’ if indeed there is one!. ONCE is certainly a change to the traditional musical that one expects but it was a night that I so thoroughly enjoyed. The simplicity of the production, the high-quality acting, singing and musicianship together with the quality of performances across the board made this musical a huge success and the audience reaction was indeed amazing. BRAVO. I would encourage the reader to seek and go and see this show as it is not one that I would have chosen personally pre adjudicating this year but one that I am so glad came up. A resounding success and congratulations to you all. You are an amazing strong and talented cast. Thank you again for making me feel so welcome after a long drive and it was a pleasure also to meet you all after the show. Keep going and loving every second because what is rare is beautiful. I hope you have many more years of success going forward. Well done all. Caroline Daly Jones, Sullivan Adjudicator 2023/24 Some photos kindly provided by the society. Photographer : Liam Mullen

Made in Dagenham as presented by Portlaoise Musical Society

Made in Dagenham, as presented by Portlaoise Musical Society Date of Adjudicated Performance: Thursday 23rd November, 2023. Straight out...

Made in Dagenham, as presented by Portlaoise Musical Society Date of Adjudicated Performance: Thursday 23 rd November, 2023.  Straight out of the starting blocks, I’d have to say that the real star of this Portlaoise production of Made in Dagenham was the set. Well-painted, with a good industrial feel to it, it proved to be a brilliant technical achievement, with two excellent revolving pieces that provided so many different setting, with all the changes done out of sight of the audience. Given the limited space backstage, this was a mega-clever piece of engineering. There was also an impressive central rolling truck that moved in and out with two or three settings on it. Stage manager, Anthony Kirby deserves kudos not just for his design but also for the virtually invisible scene changes, guaranteeing an uninterrupted flow to the action. Not that the set in any way detracted from any other aspect of the show, as indeed, Director, Art McGauran, did a really terrific job of moving his cast around the stage and employing every available piece of space. He gave strong attention to characterization throughout the cast, putting good emphasis on comedy but equally accentuating the more dramatic elements of the story. The time taken, not just with the set, but also with the other technical aspects of the show, resulted in a very strong balance throughout the production. The lighting plot was always atmospheric and well-focused on the action, and the sound throughout was well balanced with good, well-timed cueing. Choreographer, Stephanie Browne achieved a minor miracle with many of her routines, with ever-changing patterns and loads of energy, without them ever looking over-crowded or restricted by the limited performance space. Most impressive in movement and tone were the power-numbers, Busy Women, Made in Dagenham, Everybody Out and Stand Up, where the steps and actions echoed the strong sentiments of the numbers, stressing that choreography is about so much more than just throwing steps together. This was a very fine body of work. It was also most impressive that the Chorus were robust in their commitment to the strong work-ethic numbers and in their acting and reacting to the story. On top of that, their immense workload included putting energy and excellence into their vocals and into their strong dance routines, while also filling a myriad of cameo roles. They must have been a pleasure for Musical Director, Mary-Rose McNally to prepare, so assured were they with their harmonies. She also led a well-balanced orchestra, who provided a very fine interpretation of the musical score, euphoric in the playing of the torch-song numbers and mellow and controlled in accompanying the more tender songs. Tempi throughout were always spot-on. The central role of Rita O’Grady was played most convincingly by Aoife Digan, steadfast as a working mother, loyal as a loving wife and then overwhelmed by her sudden rise as an influencer and champion of women’s rights. At all times, she got the tone and the turmoil of her predicament just right, and all accompanied by a strong and secure vocal performance. As her husband Eddie, Eoghan Fingleton captured the comedy and the sadness of a man’s man, unable to see past his mindset to appreciate the importance of his wife’s work. His performance of The Letter was, for me, the musical and possibly the dramatic high-point of the show, delivered, as it was, with so much emotion and an incredibly passionate and tuneful voice. Thankfully, by shows end, he redeems himself and wins back the love of his life. Their children, Aoife Cathcart as Sharon and Oliver Treacy as Graham, performed delightfully throughout. Sharon McNamara gave an emotional performance as Connie Riley, forthright in her political convictions, yet fragile in her ability to advance the cause, and ultimately tender in her illness and in her regard for Monty, and determined to make her mark through Rita. This was a beautifully measured performance, with fine delivery of Same Old Story. Helen Flynn as Beryl was exactly as she needed to be. Brash, abrasive, foul-mouthed, and hilariously inappropriate at all times. I’m sure she enjoyed the role as much as the audience enjoyed her performance. Laoise O’Connell made a big impact as the ditzy Clare, giving a great delivery of the Wossname number, and maintaining her very funny character throughout the show. Kerry Carroll-Talbot was a spirited Cass and Ciara Finlay, a rebellious Sandra Beaumont, both adding strong presence and personality to the Factory Girls line-up. Andrew Docherty gave a performance of stature as the Women’s Rep, Monty, caught between his regard for his female workers and his need to kowtow to higher management. His exasperation was palpable, and the depth of his affection for Connie was most touching. Conor Harte impressed as the oft put upon floor manager, Barry, irritably responding to the teasing from the factory girls. Rory Chadwick pitched his portrayal of PM, Harold Wilson, with just the right measure of tongue-in-cheek caricature, displaying very good comedic timing and nice delivery of his vocals. Dawn Kavanagh took to the revolutionary character of Barbara Castle like a duck to water, strong and resilient, yet with a heart and a sense of humour. Her rendition of Ideal World was most impressive. Alex Cathcart was as obnoxious and as shady as Donald Trump in his characterization of arrogant American boss, Mr Tooley. Patronizing in tone and nonchalant in appearance, his delivery made my skin crawl, which is a tribute to a well-realized portrayal of corporate greed. Johnny Mulhare as Jeremy Hopkins, boss of the Dagenham Factory, created a cold, sterility about his presence, both towards his workers and his wife, which perfectly suited his somewhat insipid character, while his charmingly polite wife, Lisa, nicely played by Aoife Fingleton, was sincere in her support of the neglected women of the factory. Padraig O’Flaherty as Ron Macer and JJ Tynan as Gregory Hubble, the middle-management of the factory, established good flippant, dismissive and male-chauvinist caricatures. Aidan McColgan could have been a tad cheesier as Cortina Man, but delivered his song very capably. A host of strong character cameo roles were filled by Paul Kenna, Dylan Kerry, Jamie O’Callaghan, Suzanne O’Connor, Claire Kelly and Hilary Treacy. Aesthetically, the show benefitted from a good costume plot, mostly appropriately drab working-class clothing and overalls, but there were good splashes of colour employed to brighten things up when the opportunity arose, such as the Cortina routine and the rather awful (writing, not delivery) America number. There was good attention to wigs and hairstyles of the ladies and make-up was fine throughout. Made in Dagenham, albeit a work of fiction, is very firmly rooted in the historical reality of a Ford machinists strike that ultimately led to the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1970. The combination of that history with an affecting tale of family division and reunification works extremely well, and this production, by Portlaoise Musical Society, hit all the right notes, musically, comically and dramatically. Special mention should also go to an industrious front of house team, whose impressive display included a wonderful Ford Cortina as its centerpiece. Thank you to the whole company for the hospitality, the entertainment and a most enjoyable night. Peter Kennedy, Gilbert Adjudicator Some photos kindly provided by the society. 
 Photographer : Terry Conroy


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