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Nativity! The Musical - as presented by Encore PAA

ENCORE PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY- NATIVITY THE MUSICAL THE ALLEY THEATRE, STRABANE, CO TYRONE, NORTHERN IRELAND Performance Dates: 13-16th...

ENCORE PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY- NATIVITY THE MUSICAL THE ALLEY THEATRE, STRABANE, CO TYRONE, NORTHERN IRELAND Performance Dates: 13-16th DECEMBER 2023 Date of Adjudicated Performance:  15th December 2023 “Tonight is so pure and so special, we’ll never be lonely again, cause we are all standing together as friends”. Strabane, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland is 4 hours and 6 minutes away from Wexford, and thankfully on the day I travelled those miles across this lovely country of ours the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it was a great day to be on the road. The Alley Theatre is one of those theatres that you arrive outside, and you just immediately think - what a beautiful theatre. From the moment I stepped inside the door I was impressed with the lovely ‘Christmassy’ atmosphere, and the craic and banter amongst the patrons. Noise levels were at a peak all in a good way as I was warmly greeted by Ms Rebecca Thompson, and Mr Ian Thompson, Producer and Set Designer for this show. I was shown to a little table and chairs in a lovely (quieter!) area of the foyer where despite the trojan responsibilities they themselves had (more on that later) they were effusive in their welcome. We chatted about the history of this Academy, some insights into previous shows and the love and pride that Rebecca and Ian have experienced over the past couple of years, the highs and lows, the memories, and most of all – the talent and friendship that abounds from this group. This was a sell-out performance, not a seat to be found. It really did feel like Christmas. Front of House. Was professional, very busy, and everyone knew what their role was. There were also many of you and many people dotted inside the theatre keeping an eye three or four down the aisles waiting for a hand to be raised or a seat to be found. The Producer for this show was Rebecca Thompson. The mastermind behind this whole Production and the ideas she had, to bring it to fruition. Ms Thompson is a very gifted, warm bubbly lady, and what one would call in the Theatre world an Oscar performing Multitasker. Ms Thompson put together a very strong, creative and talented team here for Encore and with Ms Douglas as Director along with Mr Gerard Bradley as Musical Director, Head of Dance and Choreographer Ms Caroline Barker, and her backstage crew headed up by Ian Thompson, this was a tour de force team. For me personally, one of the highlights was everybody being asked to turn on their phones to flashlight and wave them in the darkness to the music at the end. The Finale of Act 2 with the full Company “Sparkle & Shine - the ideas, and the time it must have taken to put these ideas onto a stage for the Performing Arts Academy was incredible- it just worked. Ms Thompson is also the mother of 6 boys, all of whom were on stage and along with her husband Ian as Set Designer, and one of their sons James playing one of the lead roles of Mr Poppy, this show truly is a family affair for the Thompsons but is a friendship affair for each member of the cast and crew, because that is what this show emanated. Fun, humility, friendship, music, dance, and a lovely story produced beautifully and with an empathy, to create a vision, a Christmas vision for all, and it truly worked brilliantly. Director for this show was Laura Douglas. Along with Ms Thompson as Producer it was obvious these two ladies worked very well together creating a magical world of innocence of the young children, the magic of Christmas and the talent of a cast so young in many of the characters. Ms Douglas really did have the perfect cast in this production. The movement of the children around the stage, the little characters and the one liners that were so funny “Do I have to wear a beard? “Asked the child. “Yes," says Mr Maddens, " everyone in Nazareth has a beard! Even the women!!! Ms Douglas is a gifted Director. To work with children so young and adults not so young, was no easy task. Hours and hours of work in the attention to detail here and indeed developing each and every character was a mammoth task. The detail in the scene “Together Forever” with children was gorgeous. “Good News” sung by Layla Brolly as Angel Gabriel, hoisted down from the flies and floating very high up in the air I will add was one of the most emotional scenes and beautifully directed here by Ms Douglas. It was simply superb. From the movement of the children, the bling costumes, Ms Brolly singing and swinging like a trapeze artist, the singing, the fun, the sound, everything here was a director's dream – if done properly and it most certainly was. Mr Poppy asked if anyone in the audience had a spare baby and a doll was lifted up from the seats a few rows in front of me and selected as Baby Jesus. This was very funny. I swung my own phone around the audience here for this scene and it was very emotional. It was beautiful and very special here Ms Douglas. A moment I will not forget, your direction for the actual Christmas Nativity when it did come to fruition in front of Hollywood, with the flashlights on the phones of the audience lit around the full theatre, the cast, the children, the lights the sets, the music, and the Costumes was simply stunning. Super job Ms Douglas. Rebecca Thompson and Caroline Barker were the Choreographers for this show. A tricky enough job when you have a very young cast, and I must say these ladies did a lovely job on the dance and movements for this show given the very young ages. These young children danced and moved beautifully with many numbers requiring Choreography, and it was a joy to watch the movement being so beautifully created by these young stars of the future. Musical Director for this show was Mr Gerard Bradley. A gifted musician. And a very humble, quiet man whom I had the pleasure of meeting backstage after the show and it was very clear to me upon speaking to Mr Bradley that he loves his music, he loves this Company, and he is an excellent Musical Director and shares his gift of music with many. This is his 3rd year with this group and is a huge asset to its success. There was a lovely tone from the band, and some fantastic numbers throughout including, “My Very First Day at School”, Wrapped in a Rainbow” (gorgeous), “Dear Father Christmas”, “Herod the Rock Opera”, “Suddenly”, the oh so beautiful “Sparkle and Shine”, “She’s the Brightest Star”, “One Night, One Moment”, and the oh the moving and emotional “Sparkle Finale”. Mr Bradley had the youngest of stars on stage along with Mr Madden, Mr Poppy, and the other adult Cast in perfect sync and with a beautiful sound which was warm, melodic and graceful. This magnificent sounding Band enhanced this show greatly under Mr Bradley direction and I congratulate you all. Absolutely lovely. Well done. The Set Designer was Mr Ian Thompson. A massively successful set this was and worked consistently very well. The set was designed by Mr and Ms Thompson. I loved the street houses, painted beautifully and were very authentic with their red brick walls. This set was big, yet still allowed full use of the large stage and of course the large cast. The houses were on either side of stage right and stage left and upstage centre was a simple stepped area with a gorgeous backdrop of large painted navy blue wall with massive Christmas baubles and stars twinkling and a magnificent large circle moon in the centre. This became the key area of the set being used and used very wisely and cleverly in that it enabled everyone to be on different levels and it was simple – yet very effective. This was the key here. I loved the cleverness of when the children of St Bernadette’s came on stage to sing, they used these massive boxes wrapped as Christmas presents as seats and to stand on scattered around the stage, which were very movable and very effective yet so simple. Very clever. This large centre set then changed simply by adding dramatic gothic arches above for the school Nativity Concert, and then again, a gorgeous transformation for the Manger lit in gold with lights for Finale of the School Concert, which was just adorable, and so effective. Finally for the back of the stage for the show finale, the set returned to the set same as the opening of the show for the bows. The Christmas Tree and sofa depicting Mr Maddens flat down stage right was very clever and very authentic And, then for the finale, with different lighting we again were brought back to the original set as above for the closing number. Sets were very sweet, beautifully painted and so perfectly appropriate I really could not find fault anywhere. The Set for the Nativity lowered down from the flies in gold with twinkling lights all around was special. To the Stage Management team also, Stage Manager, Laura Doughlas, and Stage Team, Ian Thompson, Charlie Thompson, Amanda Brown, Melanie Grant, Aobha Harrica, Alice O’Connor, and Yagmur Ekici I applaud you all. Scene changes when required moved freely, were perfectly executed and in great time. No delays, very little if any noise in the set changes, and a great success overall. Well done! Set Construction was the responsibility of Raymond Wright, Ian Thompson, James Thompson, Charlie Thompson, Alan Thompson, Keith Thompson, Kyle Thompson, and Cathair McCrory. This set took time and effort and there was a vast amount of very good attention to detail here. Well done to Raymond Wright, Cathair McCrory, and ALL the Thompsons on this! Props were very good. The gifts being brought into the manger for baby Jesus from the Wise Men (in black shades and gold and silver baseball caps with capes were just hilariously funny. A packet of Nappies, a hot water bottle, and a massive bar of Dairy Milk the same size as an IPAD were just a few of the “Gifts” brought to baby Jesus in the Manger! The boxes wrapped in Christmas paper were scattered around the stage and were sturdy and colourful and wrapped. I loved Mr Poppy’s lunch box in Act 1!!! Also, small things like the crib, the Coventry Evening Standard, Oakmoor King Herod Rock Opera Programme, the lovely framed photo of Mr Poppy and his aunt Ms Bevan framed with the teddy bear between them in their Christmas pyjamas, the splendid Logos on each uniform designed by Ms Laura Douglas. Great job from the Props team Ms Rebecca Thompson (again) ! and Ms Laura Douglas (again!). Simply wonderful. Lighting Design was again by Rebecca Thompson and Laura Douglas along with lighting Technician Andrew Orr. What a successful trio. The lighting was excellent. I particularly liked the fantastic opening scene “Here Comes Santa Claus”, the wonderful lighting in “Herod the Rock Opera”. And of course, “Sparkle and Shine” and “One Night One Moment” where for me personally the lighting only enhanced the emotional moments during these songs. Lighting was full of lovely colours, loved the reds and greens and a particular mention to the many spots filtering from the fly’s, strong and beaming like stars in the various colours required throughout each number of the show. I would think that Mr Orr, Ms Thompson and Ms Douglas spent long hours creating these “pictures” but for the lighting to be as successful as it was you must have a passion and adore what you are doing. Sound was by Nigel Caldwell NC Sound & Communications. No easy job with so much movement and so many young people on board, many of them also with mics. Sound was very good. The sound for the principals particularly Mr Maddens, Mr Poppy, and most definitely Mr Gordon Shakespeare played by Patrick Moore was spot on. I never struggled to hear any line. A miracle with the movement of little people on stage on a constant basis. Specific mention to the sound effect of the Helicopter as if it was flying directly above our heads – “Its HOLLYWOOD!! A great job on sound Mr Caldwell. Well done. Costume Design was by Rebecca Thompson. These costumes were so full, bright, and appropriate. Mr Madden's costume was the perfect wardrobe for this very sensible, lovable teacher. The Costumes of the dancers in the opening number “Here Comes Santa Claus' lit up the stage. Of course, the children’s uniforms were splendid both St Bernadette’s and Oakmoor Prep kids, mention also to the costumes for Mr Gordon Shakespeare great attention to detail and I loved the costumes also for the Oakmoor Prep kids and indeed Mr Shakespeare in the number “Herod the Rock Opera”. Ms Jennifer Lores played by Anna Gallagher were perfect, professional and Mr Lore looked great in every costume for each scene. Really well done here. The Critic played by Shane Gallagher had such a great costume that I knew what sort of a character he was going to be without uttering a word!! Ms Bevan played by Andrea Logue what a wardrobe! I loved the Solar System costumes. They beamed out to the audience, fun, cartoon like, planet costumes, in Act 2. Fun, bright, in 3d effect worn by the cast but these were not just any planets these were awesome, huge to fit a person and magnificent in colour and dimensions and it was obvious a lot of work went into these and it worked. (My favourite was Saturn!!) Bravo. But it was the children of St Bernadette’s and Oakmoor Prep in their immaculately turned-out uniforms for both schools that for me stole the show. The part of Mr Poppy was played by Mr James Thompson. At age 19, Mr Thompson truly is the most brilliant actor and comedian, and from the moment he arrived on stage in his parka and fur collar, (with a pink lunchbox) There is not ONE thing I can criticise about your amazing performance here Mr Thompson. You had the children of St Bernadette’s in the palm of your hand and along with Mr Maddens (played by Ronan Drummond) you were the most fantastic duo. Songs, “Sparkle & Shine” “She’s the Brightest Star”, were gorgeous. Mr Thompson, you have a talent that is rare and brilliant and I do hope you continue to nurture your gift going forward and achieve all of your dreams - because that is what you instilled in those children on stage with you tonight and I sincerely hope for you, that arising from the part of Mr Poppy, you continue to reach for your stars for a long time to come. A brilliant, brilliant performance. Bravo Mr Thompson. The part of Mr Paul Maddens was played by Ronan Drummond. What I immediately liked about this fine actor was the rapport he had with Mr Poppy who consistently tested the bounds of his patience! A lovely guy, so madly in love with only one lady and she headed off to Hollywood leaving him alone in his flat he believed they would share together and teach in St Bernadette’s. Mr Maddens, you were a massive success in this lovely role for you. “Yes, we can” was indeed one of the many highlights of this show. Lovely stage presence, very gentle character and a very good actor this part was played beautifully by Mr Drummond. You were a major cog in the wheel of success for this production and you were a wonderful strong lead and I wish you many more shows and continued success. Well done and thank you for bringing to us the wonderful Mr Madden. Well done. The part of Gordon Shakespeare was played by Mr Patrick Moore. Great contrast here between Mr Moore and Mr Maddens, with the part of Gordon Shakespeare being the teacher in Oakmoor Prep. Mr Moore played this role superbly. A great actor with a brilliant rapport with his students which was obvious in every scene, with one of the highlights of the full show being “Herod the Rock Opera”. Given the connection with you and the pupils I can only imagine that hours and hours of work was spent rehearsing - indeed for Mr Maddens and Mr Poppy too to build the connections you had with them all on stage as their teachers. So lovely to see. What a number. What a great character Mr Moore was in this role. Mr Moore moved around the stage obsessed with perfection and that of his pupils to win best school Nativity. Mr Moore had a robotic and stern like character again in contrast to the warmer Mr Maddens, however Mr Moore's performance here was excellent. It is not always easy to be the “Baddie” in a show and to be liked yet Mr Moore achieved this in both his singing and his acting. Mr Moore has a lovely stage presence, acting was superb, and hair, costume and in particular the connection with the pupils was lovely and beautifully played. I loved your character Mr Moore and what you created to be a great Gordon Shakespeare. A lovely performance. The part of Jennifer Lore was played by Anna Gallagher. Jennifer is Mr Maddens love interest in this Musical, to whom he is about to propose to but at the last moment she tells him she has been offered a job in the States and she must leave. Mr Maddens is heartbroken. Ms Gallagher has a lovely stage presence, gorgeous singing voice and a lovely rapport again with fellow characters, I loved in the 2nd half of the show Ms Lore managed to get the USA producer to fly in and see the Nativity, and it was in this role and indeed that as Mr Maddens only love that I endeared myself to this young lady. Very pretty costumes, gorgeous presence on stage, lovely voice and a good actress, Ms Gallagher came across as a lovely character, great rapport with fellow actors, perfect hairstyle and makeup and overall, a very strong lady in this particular role and you enhanced this show immensely. Congratulations on a very good all round performance Ms Gallagher. A pleasure to watch you in this performance. Well done. The lovely Ms Bevan was played by Andrea Logue. What a gorgeous part. Great expression, brilliant eye rolling, and comical timing, fussy, dithery, confused, organised, lovable, a bit dippy and funny with a lovely singing voice and I personally loved you in this role as Ms Bevan. Loved your stage presence, songs, comical timing already mentioned, and then the dithering, stress, demands, and successes Ms Bevan had been seamlessly coordinated to create this lovely character that you made and did so very well. Ms Bevan. I very much enjoyed this character you created, and you were a very important link in portraying the everyday chaos that can be in a Primary School and yet do it with Grace. Well done. A very strong Ms Bevan. Congratulations Ms Logue. The Critic was played by Shane Gallagher. What a smashing voice this young man has. The scene with the Lord Mayor played by Mr Caoimhin Boyle was a delight. Two very strong voices here with lovely harmonies. Lovely actor, great costume as already mentioned, fussy, self-important and made everyone know he was a Critic. Fast moving, slick, professional and well-cast. A lovely part and very nicely played by Mr Gallagher. Miss Rye was played by Aisling McCorkell. A great actress. An air of don’t mess with me in a professional way, excellent speaking voice and diction and although not a big part you made a difference with whom you made Ms Rye to be. Noticed. Your performance was really very well done, great movement and overall, very strong in this part. The Lord Mayor was played by Caoimhinn Boyle. Mr Boyle has a lovely stage presence, and a lovely voice both in speaking and in singing. Very eloquent in his announcements and introduction of Ms Bevan his character as Mayor making the announcements and again in his singing with Mr Lovely stage movement again, and great stage presence. Particular fondness for this likeable character. Lovely performance indeed Mr Boyle. Mr Parker the USA TV Producer was a picture of importance, impatience and rudeness when we meet him. Initially abrupt, forgetful and very much full of his own importance as a Hollywood Producer who spoke to his Assistant Ms Jennifer Lore abruptly and with some impatience. Mr Parker's presence when Ms Lore finally got him to come to see the Nativity was excellently executed here with Mr Parker taking his seat in the audience to watch this Nativity as one of the audience with a spot on his group. This was very clever and worked exceptionally well. Mr Boyle is confident and assured on stage, great diction, strength of character, and excellent costumes again. (I wouldn’t like to work with you though!) Great part. Well done. Ms Nicola Jane McLaughlin played the part of Hollywood Receptionist with the most gorgeous smile and stage presence despite the short time this young lady was on stage. You made a huge impression. Excellent diction, you looked wonderful, and really did transport the audience to Hollywood with your infectious aura and stage presence, only a few minutes but a performance in this role that I can still recall. Very well done Ms McLaughlin. The part of The Priest was played by Giles Murray. What a magnificent voice and stage presence. Mr Murray, you are a very talented gentleman. Your singing was sublime, a great actor, and I hope to see you again on stage. Such is your talent of voice, acting and timing. Excellent in this role you were magnificent in this role. Congratulations. The parts of the Reporter played by Donna Ponsonby, Tour Guide Lorraine Porter, Security Guard Molly McDaid, and Angel Gabriel’s Mum Sadbh Breathnach were very well done. Small parts, but vital in the overall performance and success for this group that you call home. Great costumes, and wonderfully played by each one of you. Well done. The chorus of children in the main – well what can I say. Simply irresistible. “One Night One Moment” is a number I will remember forever because of all of you and your magic. Also “Sparkle & Shine”, “Good News” to name only three out of so many numbers you all had to perform. Given all the characters in this beautiful show, for me it was the lovely children of St Bernadette’s and Oakmoor Prep that were the highlight for me. Like the brightness in the night sky, you were like shining stars throughout. Your energy, enthusiasm, dancing, your expressions, were just a sight to behold. Each one of you, some of you very young, created your own little characters whether Mr Maddens and his assistant Mr Poppy or Mr Shakespeare you were just amazing. It is in my opinion, important that I mention you all individually such was the effect you had on me and your audience on the evening of 15th December. Whether it was sitting scattered around on your Christmas boxes, singing with Mr Poppy, Mr Maddens or Mr Shakespeare, your gorgeous singing, your perfect uniforms and your smiles, you reminded me of shooting stars lighting up the stage every time you were on it. You were adorable. Every single one of you, by your presence, gave this show its beauty and magic. You stole the show, and you stole my heart. BRAVO!. This was a team of happiness, friendship, innocence, talent, and bringing the gift of the story of The Nativity to its audience, and to those who were lucky enough to get a seat! Direction and Production were a united team. Congratulations Ms Douglas and Ms Thompson. You are a very blessed and lucky talented bunch. May it stay with you always. I will finish with one of the letters the children wrote to Santa printed in the programme…it goes like this……. “Santa, I’ve been worried for a while, 
  
 I think it's because my teacher lost his smile. 
 Please help him. 
 
 Lots of love, 
 Max. xxx” This show was special. You brought many smiles back to many people’s faces in your audience tonight. Congratulations. Caroline Daly Jones Sullivan Adjudicator 2023/2024 Some photos kindly shared by the society: Photos by Raymond Mc Carron

All Shook Up as Presented by Letterkenny Music & Drama Group

All Shook Up as Presented by Letterkenny Music & Drama Group AN GRIANAN THEATRE TUESDAY 28TH NOVEMBER TO SATURDAY 2ND DECEMBER 2023...

All Shook Up as Presented by Letterkenny Music & Drama Group AN GRIANAN THEATRE TUESDAY 28TH NOVEMBER TO SATURDAY 2ND DECEMBER 2023 Adjudication performance  29th November 2023 “YOU'VE GOTTA FOLLOW THAT DREAM WHEREVER THAT DREAM MAY LEAD YOU”....... The furthest journey of my calendar year so far in 2023 took me to Letterkenny on the evening of the 29th November 2023 to adjudicate the wonderful, foot stamping, dance, and melodic show with well-known songs like “I can’t help falling in love with you”, “Blue Suede Shoes” “Hound dog” to name but a few.  “All Shook Up”. The Venue was the beautiful An Grianán Theatre, in Letterkenny town. Upon my arrival I was met immediately by the most gracious Pluincéad O’Fearraigh, Chairman of the Society, and indeed up to last year's production was also Director and Producer of this talented group. Producer / Director of this Production were Ms Tina Higgins, and Ms Marie McGinley. This show was indeed a lovely production. There was great use of the very large stage but what I liked most was the attention to detail these two ladies brought to this show where we the audience were immediately transported back to the good old rock and roll days. Ms Higgins and Ms McGinley directed this show in such a way that it was consistently so effortlessly energetic and full of fun and humour with beautiful movement and staging throughout. All roles were perfectly cast without any exception. The attention to detail was super. Particular mention to “Come On Everybody” with Chad, Natalie, Dennis & Company and Sylvia's Bar, as the initial meeting point, with the tables and chairs and tablecloths and the very authentic jukebox in the corner. This direction in this production was simple, yet effective, detailed yet not overbearing or too exaggerated. Such fun, and joie de vivre with each character and a testament to the work done by Ms Higgins and Ms McGinley. Considering it was your first year as the Producers / Directors it was a huge success and very well directed. Lovely job beautifully done. This magic duo as Directors also were the shows Choreographers. Choreography was excellent, lovely movements, great dancers, simple yet effective moves but the most impressive detail here for me was that throughout the show this cast never ONCE put a foot or an arm out of place. Yes, in some number’s choreography was simple and slick but in other numbers “Lovin My Baby” and “All Shook Up, along with “Jailhouse Rock” were more complex – yet excellent. “Loving My Baby” was a highlight of this show for me in Choreography, Direction and Lighting, which was simply superb. Musical Director for this show was Denise Roper. Twenty five plus numbers with a band of ten in the pit. Ms Roper as well as being Musical Director played Keyboard 1. With particular mention to “I Don’t Want To” Chad, “C’mon Everybody” with full company, and a highlight of the evening for personally and musically were “Let Yourself Go”, “Follow That Dream” (simply gorgeous accompaniment here) and the magnificent Finale Music. Wonderful. This Band worked very well together. I congratulate you all on a job beautifully done here from all of you, with of course Ms Roper at the helm. Congratulations to a great team well-rehearsed and well led. Stage Manager was Ms Fiona McDaid. Ms Mc Daid had a strong team of four as her Stage Crew. Ms Anne Flannery, Elaine Gillespie, Aoife Flanagan, Olivia Kelly. Also Slides Operator Tom Neilis. The Sets were good and sometimes very good. One thing I did notice was  In the Heartbreak Hotel number there were two doors down stage right surrounded by a lovely brick wall beautifully painted may I add- but when the cast went through the door when they were leaving the stage there was a gap between the wall and the wings and you could see each character head into the wings in the gap it and it was just a little distracting. “Sylvias Bar” set was lovely. The Set for of the City Museum was gorgeous and very authentic as was the Bus and the Station. The Funfair Set was a great visual with lovely lighting and ambience created enhancing each set in all of the scenes which were all very good. Set Painting was the responsibility of Mary Larkin, along with Stage Construction Tommy Kerr, and James Kenny. Set Painting was excellent lovely colours again, and great depth in each set piece. Niall Cranney was in charge of Lighting for this lovely show. Excellent lighting on the back of the bar on the shelves in Sylvia's Bar, with the different coloured bottles on the shelves throughout. The lighting overall was very effective. “Lovin 'My Baby” was superb. I loved the blues, reds and pinks all around, and the colourful pink spots on the floor this number ensured the stage was ablaze with colour, and it enhanced the production beautifully. Sound was by MK Audio, Strabane. Sound was perfect. No errors, never too loud, and always right. I particularly loved the sound from all the lead characters. Very balanced, a very warm timbre throughout the show and again, the sound greatly enhanced the success of this lovely show. Well done. Costumes were by Olivia Kelly, and Props Fiona McDaid. I loved Sylvia's Bar with the small circular tables and the white doilies placed perfectly around the stage, with the perfect bar stools and very good attention to detail all around. Given that this set is very much used throughout the show it was important that is looks right and is presented correctly to a discerning audience. Everything was in place, and it was obvious a lot of thought went into this production in this area throughout the show, and props were very good. Costumes, very appropriate for each character. Loved Sylvia's voluptuous costume, along with Mayor Matilda’s very befitting outfit, stern and austere, and I absolutely loved Dennis’ costume from start to finish dressed from top to toe. Well done to a wonderful team. The part of Natalie Haller was played by Danielle McElroy. A gorgeous Natalie. Ms McElroy created a truly lovely character here with her tomboyishness, but also her elegance later in her dress. Her connection with both Dennis (played by Luke McHugh) and Chad (Niall Brennan) floated down to the audience and I immediately wanted this young lady to have a happy ending because she was just so nice in this role in every way. Lovely moment in the dance scenes, and lovely rapport and chemistry in particular with Chad, but it was also with her pals, Dennis (in love with her) and Lorraine and finally but not least this gorgeous Father Daughter relationship she had with her Dad Jim Haller, (played by Rodney McKeague) where her caring, gentle, and love for of her Dad Jim, shone on stage. Ms McElroy created a lovely energetic, fun, caring, and sometimes lonely person in her creation of Natalie and this was indeed a very special and lovely performance. Well done Ms McElroy. Chad was played by Niall Brennan. Mr Brennan, looked, sang and acted this part beautifully and with such charm. Mr Brennan was very slick, cool, easy going, with a fluid ease of movement around the stage consistently. He really did love himself and it was quite funny at times that his ego was dented for example when Ms Sandra rebuffed his advances again and again! I must also add that the lovely number “Don’t be Cruel” was brilliantly performed. A lovely duet by two very good actors in one of the more brilliant moments of this lovely show. Mr Brennan’s performance enhanced this show beautifully every single time he was on stage. I loved the character you created here Mr Brennan. You have a lovely voice and this role suited you down to the ground. A very strong leading man. Keep singing. Well done. Superb job. The lovely part of Jim Haller was played by Rodney McKeague. A glorious role played by this talented gentleman. Mr McKeague had a lovely quiet gentle disposition, grieving for the loss of his wife – Natalie’s mother, and trying to find his way really after his wife's death and love of his life. The “Power of My Love”, sung with Chad and Miss Sandra, along with “Heartbreak Hotel” and especially the duet between himself and Chad “Don’t be Cruel” were some very lovely scenes performed with a gentleness and simplicity that endeared me to this gentleman as Jim Haller. Lovely singing voice and a lovely rapport with Natalie. This was a great role played by Mr McKeague, and I’m glad you did find love again in the end and I know think the whole audience were as well because we all had a soft spot for “Natalie’s Dad”. Well done. Lovely performance. The part of Sylvia was played by Ciara Gallagher. A beautiful actress again with a lovely stage presence and a key role in the whole story with her Bar and her customers and her lovely daughter Lorraine, and her life in general. I really enjoyed what Ms Gallagher brought to this role and the character she created. From the first time we are introduced to her in “Heartbreak Hotel” to “That’s Alright” to the beautiful solo in the second half “There’s Always Me” A key role in this story, played by a very talented young lady. Beautiful performance. Lorraine (Sylvias daughter) was played by Aoife Farmer. This young lady was a lovely Lorraine. Again, beautiful, sweet voice, lovely presence on stage, and interactions throughout the show with Dean (Ciaran O’Gallachóir) and of course with her Mam Sylvia. Gorgeous costumes, very articulate vocally, lovely moment in the dance numbers and a genuine air of happiness and carefree attitude that won the audience over with your portrayal of this lovely character that is Lorraine. “It’s Now or Never” with Dean, Lorraine and the Company absolutely shone from the stage. Dennis was played by Luke McHugh. Aww Dennis. What a lovely role you had to play and played brilliantly . Loved the dickie bow and the sleeveless v neck jumper and your facial expressions in awe of Chad when you meet him. “That’s All right “when playing the guitar and the little leg kicks as you meandered around the stage proud as punch, to be the “chosen” sidekick showed the fun side of this character you created and indeed there were many moments such as this throughout the show. Mr McHugh had several lovely attributes that endeared me to him from the moment he arrived on stage. Well done Mr McHugh. A beautiful part for you and you sang and acted it gallantly. Beautiful job. Ms Sandra was played by Ms Laura Friel. Fabulous costumes, great flirtatious moments and yet completely oblivious to Chads obvious romantic advances which really was quite funny in your barely giving him the time of day and being quite dismissive in the process. (Poor Chad!). Ms Friel had a wonderful stage presence, and a really lovely voice, and I did indeed look forward to each time she arrived on stage. The part of Mayor Matilda Hyde was played by Ms Mary Lane. What a no-nonsense woman stern with a constant frown and a constant air of disapproval of her towns people, conservative to a tee and following behind her was poor Earl the long-suffering (saintly) companion who said or was not allowed to say much at all except the odd word here and there where in these rare instances he was rapidly told to be quiet. Ms Hyde had a lovely air of superiority, and it really was effective in the contrast between herself and the rest of the cast in her seriousness. A wonderful character here is Ms Lane. It was an absolute pleasure to witness you in this role on stage. You made it your own and it was a very commendable performance in every aspect. Well done. The part of Dean Hyde was played by Ciaran O’Gallachóir. Mr O’Gallachóir had a lovely stage presence, very much under the shadow of the above-mentioned Mayor and his mother. Totally innocent minded in a cocoon by his mother and then in just one moment he saw and met Lorraine and they fell in love. Mr O’Gallachóir had a lovely singing voice and played this part well. Again, great costume and detail on the uniform especially was excellent. A lovely duo himself and Ms Farmer, a strong cast member, played a large part in the overall success of this show. Well done Mr O’Gallachóir. Well played. Sheriff Earl, played by Martin Anderson, the strong silent type (with no choice to be but anything else) was a very likeable character from the beginning. Ambling around at a very relaxed pace behind Mayor Matilda he was like a little puppy afraid to say a word. Beautifully played by Mr Anderson and a pleasure to watch you on stage in this role. Bus Driver was Mr Stephen Roche, and Warden was Mr Michael Sheehan. Two small parts but significant nonetheless in the continuation and the linking together of the different scenes and changes throughout. Excellent costumes again. Well done. This was a very strong Chorus. From the opening Jailhouse Rock with Chad and the Prisoners, to “Heartbreak Hotel”, “C’mon Everybody”, “It’s Now or Never”, “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, “The title of the show and “All Shook Up”, “A Little Less Conversation a little more action”, “Fools Fall in Love”, “Burning Love” to the full Finale Music, this Chorus created a wonderful sound that enveloped the audience and the theatre, every single time, lovely harmonies, great balance and each part in Altos, Bass, Tenors, Sopranos, all clearly syncing beautifully together. It was a treat to hear you all throughout and with such consistency and balance. A lovely sound. A lovely Chorus. Well done. An Grianán Theatre is a very large venue used very frequently and is a very busy venue given the posters and advertisements for upcoming shows that were emblazoned around the Theatre the second I arrived at the door and headed for the Box Office. I was immediately looked after and introduced to the gentleman that is the Society’s Chairman Mr Pluincéad O’Fearraigh, who was an absolute joy to speak with, giving me a background into the Musical Society to date, and his involvement from the very beginning (formed in 1991) and the history of An Grianán Theatre. I sincerely thank you all so very much for your welcome. This evening was a treat. I genuinely loved the atmosphere within your lovely Society. I drove home with a pep in my step and a song in my heart after my evening with you all. Congratulations to each and every one of you. You are a great group and I hope that greatness continues for you all for a very long time to come. Caroline Daly Jones AIMS Adjudicator Sullivan 2023 / 2024 Some photos kindly shared by the society

Urinetown as presented by Newcastle Glees Musical Society

Urinetown, as presented by Newcastle Glees Musical Society Date of Adjudicated Performance: Friday, 24th November, 2023. Given the...

Urinetown, as presented by Newcastle Glees Musical Society Date of Adjudicated Performance: Friday, 24th November, 2023. Given the reality of climate change and our abuse of this planet, Urinetown, despite tackling the topic in a very crazy and hilarious manner, is a show that has an important message, and it deserves to be enjoyed by audiences everywhere. It’s off the wall, outrageous, hysterical, darkly dystopian, and yet remarkably uplifting, and in the safe hands of Newcastle Glees, it was given a thoroughly satisfying treatment. It was most impressive that Director, Laura Kerr had the skill and ability to bring the best out of the comedy and the drama of this piece. Her attention to the visual detail of the show was remarkable, and the strength and variety of characterizations throughout was a tribute to a thorough and thoughtful process. There were many moments of magic, but top of the list was the unexpected and hilarious birth of a slum-baby during Run Freedom Run. I thought I would fall off my seat. One could almost imagine the stench of the public toilets, just looking at the rotten, festered set of the opening scene of the show, so detailed was the scenery. It was immediately apparent that we had been transported to the dumping ground of a world that had gone tragically wrong. More could have been done to contrast this with a gleaming and well painted Urine Good Company set, to show how much better the privileged were living. That scene was considerably brighter but maybe needed a touch more glamour and dressing to make it really opulent. Perhaps the lack of space and facilities were responsible for Bobby’s death not being as dramatic as it might have been, and maybe the highly atmospheric lighting, on occasions, needed to be balanced with a bit more key light on performers’ faces, as some expression was lost in shadow. Sound quality throughout was impressive, with good cueing and a good balance between stage and band, and while the stage crew, under stage Manager Clair Williams, were industrious and efficient, had then all worn black outfits, they would have been more invisible. I don’t know if the costumes for the show were hired or locally created, but they were fabulous, especially the ones worn by the slum-dwellers. They were stunningly stained and bedraggled, and yet still created individuality among the players. The flamboyant and delightfully over-the-top outfits of the privileged few were unexpected but entirely appropriate, given the surreal circumstances of the whole show. The cops looked great and there were some glitzy outfits for the specialty dancers. As with the costumes, wigs were very good and for the rich, deliciously effete. Hairstyles for the peasants were outrageously straggly and looked lice-filled, and the make-up, both for the powered elite and for the festering unhealthy poor, was top-notch. Visually, the whole show was excellent. If Laura Kerr’s direction was visionary, then choreographer, Clare Donnelly followed that dream to create dance routines that strongly captured the mood and tone of each scene, and were filled with energy and comedy. Particularly impressive in style and variety were The Cop Song, Don’t Be The Bunny, Mr.Caldwell and Snuff That Girl, but it was the sheer power, exuberance and delivery of Run Freedom Run that brought the house down. But then again, she was blessed to have a chorus who were quite simply brilliant. They were vocally powerful and melodic and their acting and dancing were a real backbone to this production. Taking the central role of narrator, Officer Lockstock, Martin McDowell had a strong presence and a great comedic rapport with the audience. Losing the sunglasses would have added more expression to his delivery, but he still had excellent body language and very good timing. He led the very funny Cop Song with aplomb. His co-narrator, more or less, and inquisitive on behalf of the audience, was Little Sally, quite brilliantly played by Anna Young. Her style was brash and over-the-top, like a child having tantrums, but hilariously so, and delivered with excellent comedic ability. She also had a fine vocal quality and was a good dancer. Taking the romantic lead with not just a ‘Strong’ but also a very measured performance was Josh Clark in the role of Bobby. Growing in stature as the show progressed, he was at his finest leading the Run Freedom Run number with a powerful vocal display. His comedic love of Hope was also most enjoyable. Hope, in turn, was played with innocence and naivety by Anna Moore, who also possessed a sweet and tuneful voice. Her comedy, particularly the Follow Your Heart scene, was very secure and she became a force to be reckoned with as she turned on her cold-hearted father. Lowry Hodgett played Cladwell, the controlling and maniacal director of Urine Good Company, as a kind of new age Roman Emperor, adorned with fancy robes, a bouffant wig, jewelry and a permanent sneer at all below him. He captured the nastiness of the character very well and performed his vocals confidently. The fiery and formidable warden of the filthiest urinal in town, Ms. Pennywise, was played with a terrifyingly, toxic charm by Emma-Jane McKnight. Here was a woman you wouldn’t want to get into a fight with, wielding her plunger like a sword, and with a voice that would scare the Banshees. This was great character realization, and even the make-up and the messed-up mental state couldn’t disguise the talent and the quality voice that hid beneath the grime. Very good indeed. Stephen Donnan-Dalzell turned in a comically camp performance, all flounces and feathers, as corrupt politician, Senator Fipp, alongside a sycophantic aide to Caldwell, Mr McQueen, ably played with groveling gentility by Gordon Donaldson. Sean Trainor as Dr. Billeaux and Orla McCrickard as Mrs. Millenium comfortably completed the impressive line-up for the wealthy elite. At the opposite end of the social ladder, were some brilliant character roles, not the least of which was Soupy Sue, the pregnant slum-dweller who gives birth mid-song at the comedic high-point of the show, superbly played by company chair-person, Emma Nugent. By her side for much of the show, and matching her in comedic and vocal ability was a most impressive Fiona Keegan as Ma Strong. Diarmuid Taggart made the most of his role as Old Man Strong, with the delightfully funny scene of peeing in public. Like the Bonnie and Clyde of the street rats, Fiona Keane as Becky Two Shoes and Francis McKinney as Hot Blades Harry entertained with a comical blood-lust with their hearts set on murdering Hope in revenge for the death of Bobby. Also impressive among the throng of unfortunates were Katy Keaveney as Roberta the Stockfish, Campbell Evans as Billy Boy Bill and a superb cameo of Tiny Tom, brought to life by Chris Mooney. The principal line was completed by a secure and comedic interpretation of Officer Barrell from James Marsden, performing strongly alongside Officer Lockstock. Binding everything together musically, with a full bodied accompaniment to the show that never over-powering the on-stage performers, Musical Director, Mark Tilley led a small but robust and precise band of talented musicians. Tempi were strong and steady, and the more sentimental moments were treated with a respectful mellowing of the tone. But it was in the preparation of the chorus that Mr. Tilley really made his Mark (shocking pun, I know). Vocal quality, harmonies, tone, diction and expression were of the highest order throughout the show, in what was a wonderful musical display. Having seen the show before, I was already well prepared for the journey through the gutters of Urinetown, yet despite that familiarity, I found myself swept along by the delightful irreverence, the original touches and the sheer passionate energy of a production that ticked all the boxes in providing high-calibre musical theatre and entertainment. Sincere thanks to all concerned. Peter Kennedy, Gilbert Adjudicator Some photos kindly provided by the society.

EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE as presented by BOSCO Drama Group Newry

BOSCO DRAMA GROUP NEWRY YOUTH Production of “EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE” TEEN EDITION. Sunday 5th November to Thursday 9th November....

BOSCO DRAMA GROUP NEWRY    YOUTH Production of “EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE” TEEN EDITION.  Sunday 5 th  November to Thursday 9 th  November.  Date of Adjudicated Performance:   Tuesday 7 th  November 2023 “BE WHOM YOU’RE MEANT TO BE” Twenty -five years ago this wonderful group was formed and built with its first show of Godspell and at the helm from that day to this as Director, ( Assistant Director this year) with Director of the Group now being handed over to Ms Corinna McCaughey was the lovely and very talented Mr Jim McGuigan who is also currently Bosco Drama Group’s Chairperson. I was introduced to Mr McGuigan before the show and he explained to me that he is handing over the reigns this year, which must be a very difficult decision to make given the length of time this talented gentleman has been involved and directing this company. On the evening I attended despite having to move venue due to the floods – more on that later – I was both humbled and inspired by Mr McGuigan as he briefly gave me an insight into the past 25 years and what obstacles and blessings have occurred during this time for this team of people along the way. I was made to feel very welcome and very at home here with this Society from the moment I arrived, and as I took my seat and looked forward to the evening’s performance. Before I get to the adjudication, I must give some background; Newry town had been a subject of horrific flooding in the days preceding opening night. With only a few days to go to opening night, Newry Town Hall was surrounded by water and so much of this town was decimated with many businesses & homes destroyed by water, storm damage and floods. Newry Town Hall was deemed unsafe to put on the show and at the last hour a new venue had to be found. Sets, costumes etc decimated. How heart-breaking this must have been for this young group of people. However, at the last minute and because of a massive community effort, a new venue namely The Abbey Grammar School just outside of town became the shows new home for the run. A Mammoth task, sets had to be altered, rebuilt, resized and rehoused. Given the restrictions of a school as its new venue as you can imagine so many differences between that of Newry Town Hall and The Abbey Grammar School which only closed for Halloween break a couple of days before opening night and the Concert Hall had to be transformed and very quickly at that into a School and a Council Estate in Sheffield, along with a Drag Queen shop, a school bathroom, and Jamies kitchen at home. Now. I don’t know how many people out there would even attempt this miracle, but Bosco Drama Group did along with many other willing volunteers rallying together to recreate a town in Sheffield in a matter of days. SUPERB! The story briefly evolves around Jamie New a 16-year-old who lives on a council estate in Sheffield. However, Jamie is a little different to the other teenagers at this school. He harbours a secret dream; to be a drag queen! He is supported every step of the way by his loving Mum, Margaret who would do anything for her boy, and through many obstacles and some beautiful and indeed sad moments in this show, Jamie learns to embrace his inner queen, named Mimi Me, and step into the spotlight…. his spotlight. Upon my arrival I was welcomed very warmly by Mr Gerry Mulholland who also has responsibility for Advertising. The Front of House team consisted of Caitriona O’Hale, Bernadette McCrink and Team, with Box Office by Dearbhla Monaghan and Raffle Co-Ordinator Michelle Morgan. The Directors of this Production, Corinna Cunningham and Jim McGuigan were a set of talents united to create a vision. Given already the complications to actually get this show on to a new stage days from opening showed a huge strength and belief in your Society. And rightly so. I loved all of your Direction subtle and not so subtle and this troupe of young people were a joy to behold. Direction was slick, professional, and well thought out and many hours I would imagine went into perfecting this show and get it on to a stage with such a young group of teenagers, and along with Mr McGuigans many years as Director your experience along with Corinna made this show what is was. A huge success in a time of adversity. This was no easy task and full credit to both of you with this. Choreographers Naoimh and Ann Marie Morgan, Assistant Choreographer Donna King, and Dance Captain Saoirse Byard - firstly what a team – you are blessed to have so many people working as a team here and it showed on stage in many of your show numbers. Space was restricted and yet never once took away from what was happening on stage and not a movement out of place. Well done. Musical Director was Aislinn McGinn. This young lady had an immense passion for show both in her conducting and her Orchestra. There are 20 Musical numbers in this show, and a Band of 8, and what a beautiful sound they made. On grand piano was Elizabeth Freeburn, Keyboard Danny O’Neill, Guitar/ Mandolin Frankie McElvanna, Bass Guitar Orla Rice, Tenor Saxaphone Uel Faulkner, Trumpet / Flugal Peter Benson, Drum Kit Niall Jennings, and Percussion Ned Clarke. The Band were consistent and strong throughout creating a beautiful sound and never over shadowing the principle players or the Company. The Opening Number “And You Don’t Even Know It” with Jamie, Miss Hedge, and Year 11 was a fantastic combination of both Orchestra and the Company working very well together and in sync and a very balanced sound emanated throughout the hall. I also want make particular reference to “The Legend of Coco Chanelle, and the empathy during the song in the second half sung by “Prittii” played by Tess McElheron “ It Means Beautiful” a gorgeous number showing of both Ms McElheron and the Band accompaniment wonderfully. Throughout the evening this Band were a joy to behold and I always looked forward to each number and hear them play. Musical Director Aislinn McGinn and Assistant Musical Director Ms Elizabeth Freeburn, moved this show along beautifully with great empathy for each individual cast member as well as Ensemble. There was a lovely balance between both. Sets were simple but effective. Given the constraints on the Society with the town hall being flooded only days before. The school bathroom was small but effective, Margaret Ray’s (Jamies home) kitchen was placed down stage right was also small but enhanced enormously of course by the wonderful acting of its inhabitants. The Set of the Classroom with the desks was worked well and used very positively to create different levels to the view from the audience. I particularly liked the set use of the ensemble singing up high on the back of the stage and creating a beautiful picture. It was very imaginative and used to greatly enhance the production. Stage Manager was Ruth EC McCague, and her ASM’s and Crew and team were Anne Marie McAleenan, and Maria Rafferty. Again given the week prior to your show and your new venue you created a miracle here in this production and that is one thing to be very very proud of. Your Stage Management was flawless. Nothing went wrong in fact everything went so very right and again I admire you all. The show in your hands was safe. Beautiful work and a job very well done by a great team. Lighting Design was by Rodney Ellis, with Lighting Operators Paddy Heaney and Team. Now, given that all I have said with regard to this new venue there was a colossal load of responsibility laid upon this teams shoulders, and for the most part of the evening the lighting was good. However in the 2nd half of the show there was a blip in the lighting and house lights came up. It certainly did not bother the cast they kept going kept smiling but I did feel genuinely sorry for the team here that this unfortunate episode happened. Sound was by McCusker Pro Audio. The sound for this show was balanced and enhanced each characters performance and overall was very good. Make up by Maeve Bell, Wig & Hair Consultant Ciara McParland, Cultural Adviser Fatima Saleem, Costume Design Ciara Jennings and Kathleen McAteer and Artistic Designer Anne Marie McAleenan. This is a huge production team with key roles being the responsibility of at least two people. And it worked well. The school uniforms looked great, and the Drag Queen dresses and shoes were fantastic – special mention to Jamies’ costume red stilettos!! Gorgeous!!! Jamie New was played by Darragh Burns. What a wonderful character this young man made of this part. I loved his quirkiness and his accent was perfect. Mr Burns has such a lovely presence on stage and moved beautifully had a lovely rapport with his classmates and a beautiful friendship between himself and Pritti his best friend played by Tess McElherron. Mr Burns was a truly lovely Jamie, very well cast and for such a young gentleman (aged 17) and I was drawn to this character from the start and throughout the show such was his portrayal of the difficulties involved in becoming who he wanted to be and following his dream. “The Wall in My Head” was superb and gave a lovely introduction to exactly what WAS going on in his head at the beginning of the show. “Work of Art” with Ms Hedge his teacher, played by Keeley Magill and Dean (played by Oliver Larkin) with the Year 11 Ensemble was so vibrant and full of life, these young people are joy to watch. But it was the connection between himself, and his Mam Margaret (played by Leah McCarron) is where his personality and his true Jamie shone through every single time. HOW you walked in those gorgeous shoes I have no idea !!! Along with his songs with his Mam “My Man Your Boy”, and his solos also endeared me to this lovely character, particularly with Pritti “Spotlight (Reprise) (Star of the Show “) “Ugly in this Ugly World” and “ “I truly loved each time you all came on stage for many of the numbers including “The Prom Song” and “Out of the Darkness” ( A Place Where We Belong) with the full Company. I have no doubt that this young man will indeed be a leading man again and again in the Musical Theatre world and I do hope so. I wish you all the best. Well Done. “Along came a blessing, my precious surprise, my perfect mistake. “ Margaret New, Jamies Mam was played by Leah McCarron. One word. WOW. What a voice. Your song in Act2 “My Boy” brought me to tears. You have a truly amazing talent that gave me the shivers, and I do not say that lightly,  At 18 years of age, you have a gift that simply touches the soul. This performance vocally was full of your emotion, your expression, and your heart, and yet comes so naturally to you, so unassumingly and with such true beauty. Even your accent and how you pronounced the word “Boy” was flawless. This is a 6-minute number. I felt the Orchestra and indeed the Conductor in this piece felt every word also and were a beautiful enhancement to the performance of the evening and a highlight of this show. For the reader here this performance was sung as a solo on stage with just a plain simple backdrop with Margaret (Jamies Mam) Ms McCarron dressed in just a simple jeans and shirt, a messy bun and the remains of a torn red dress in her left hand and an open stage. You could have been anywhere in the world watching and listening to this young lady who possesses a voice that is simply stunning. It was an honour to be in that audience and at 18 years of age watch and listen to you perform. What a gift you have. I sincerely applaud you. Bravo Ms McCarron. Ms Hedge, played by Keeley Magill was the stern matronly teacher. A nice singing voice I did feel it was a little lost in places, but the Opening Number in Act 1, with Jamie, Miss Hedge and Year 11 was sung well by Ms Magill. I do feel that maybe in places she could have been a little sterner initially to contrast with the end of the show where he is allowed to attend the Prom with her blessing. “Work of Art” sung by Ms Hedge, Jamie Dean and Year 11 she came into her own here and this was a great number for everyone. Very good Costume and hairstyle also for Ms Hedge - well played. Dean Paxton ( played by Oliver Larkin ) was a great character – taunting Jamie for his sexuality and being a class messer. This was a lovely part played beautifully by Mr Larkin. Timing was spot on and there was a great rapport between Mr Larkin and the rest of the class. He didn’t conform to the norm and it worked. A great part and played very well. Well done. Pritti Pasha was played by Tess McElherron. This was such a lovely role. A great friend to Jamie, a voice amongst the crowd standing up for him and also a pitch perfect singing voice, with “It Means Beautiful” a beautiful solo sung in Act 2. There was just a solemn silence when Ms McElherron sang this lovely number, and she really indeed did it justice. A soft, gentle voice and character I loved Ms McElherrons character – always there for Jamie, very intelligent, studious and her own person. This was a lovely part, and I really enjoyed your performance. No weak links whatsoever in playing this role. Be very proud. A wonderful character you were. Super performance. Hugo / Loco Chanelle was played by Shane O’Keeffe. And he played a blinder in this part. I so enjoyed this character from the get-go. Watching Jamie arrive at his shop nervously and allowing him to try on the dresses, being encouraging but never pushy. Mr O’Keeffe’s empathy towards Jamie came across very well. Mr O’Keeffe moved seamlessly around the stage with great flair and abandon, lovely movement, clear accent and excellent diction. “The Legend of Loco Chanelle (and the Blood Red Dress)” with Hugo and the Legs Eleven Girls was a picture. Becka played by Eabha Monaghan, Vicki played by Blaithin O’Hanlon, Cy played by Conor Powell, Bex played by Emily Morgan, Sayid played by Michael McAteer, Fatimah played by Emily Goan, Levi played by Noah Fegan, Mickey played by Jack Fallon were great individual characters, but also worked and sang very well as a team and had a massive role to play in the overall success of this performance. You all looked great, were perfect in your movements and acting and I imagine a lot of rehearsing went into all of the above characters for many months preceding this show and it showed. A wonderful team. Congratulations. Laiki Virgin (Rueben Reilly) and Sandra Bollock (Cahir Rooney) superb characters, looked great and acted brilliantly. Really well done. Finally Jamies Dad / Tray Sophisticay was played by Oisin O’Hanlon. A dual and very diverse two parter. As Jamies Dad your acting was excellent. You really didn’t give a fiddler’s about Jamie or Margaret his Mam, with cruel words and gruffness and an image you portrayed of Jamie as being an embarrassment. This was very strong acting and your message hit home. The intricacies of love and relationships laid bare here in this story and it worked extremely well. Superb acting here by Oisin O’Hanlon. No such thing as a small part. This character in my opinion was key to making the contrast between him and their son Jamie, and his Mam and her son Jamie. As a team - the chorus super. They sang and acted beautifully and the friendships and camaraderie was very apparent to me. The Full ensemble overcame some big obstacles before opening and also during the show and I applaud you all. Well done to you all. I loved the detail in your programme, it is overlooked so many times by societies so thank you for that. As young as you all are, I really do hope that each and every one of you take something from this show and this Society that you call home. You are a very talented group of young people with a wonderful future ahead of each one of you and I truly believe that what I witnessed here this evening and the message you carried will remain with you all always. Courage to be who you want to be. It is within each and every single one of you in this full Company on stage or off stage no matter what your role big or small. Congratulations. Caroline Daly Jones, Sullivan Adjudicator 2023/24 Some photos kindly provided by the society.

All Shook Up as presented by North East Musical & Dramatic Society

All Shook Up as presented by North East Musical & Dramatic Society 7th – 11th November 2023 Date of Adjudicated Performance: Thursday 9th...

All Shook Up  as presented by North East Musical & Dramatic Society 7th – 11th November 2023 Date of Adjudicated Performance: Thursday 9th November 2023 The Iontas Theatre was lit up like a star when this magical, fun, energetic, visually amazing and magnificently lit show took to the stage on the night I attended. It was simply a performance of All Shook up that I will never forget for so many reasons, from this wonderful happy musical crew that is Northeast Musical and Dramatical Society. This was a truly spell binding performance of this fabulous musical inspired by the songs of Elvis Presley. I was met at in the Foyer and immediately and minded so well by the lovely Sara Parge who is Secretary of the Society, dressed beautifully in full costume with her dress, underskirt netting ankle socks tights and white shoes all absolutely gleaming with the biggest smile and looked impeccable. A sign of what the evening was to behold I wondered…and it most definitely was. I specifically want to thank Sara for her kindness and her attention for the full evening before the show at the interval and indeed at the end of the show backstage and taking me to the exit to my car. This Front of House team were very busy and meticulously worked to make sure every audience member was looked after. The Foyer was buzzing when I arrived. There was an atmosphere of excitement as if everyone there they hadn’t seen each other in a long time the noise levels!! It was electric. The Foyer was decorated, warm (most important as it was another dreadful evening weather wise outside) and every FOH team member – was smiling and laughing and just – happy! It was contagious. Congratulations to Ms Monica Marron, Front of House Manager, and Ms Detta Sheridan Front of House team. I was shown to a marvellous seat, a perfect view and had a few minutes to check out the excellent programme, the attention to detail and all the information contained, had a quick glance at the vast amount of people involved in this production and awaited the opening number. The curtains opened, the Orchestra started (beautifully) and boom! we were transported to another world with a vision that was presented to the audience for this opening number that was superb. Natalie played by Ciara O’Neill and Dennis played by Gavin Murphy, were a beautiful duo in this number. Lighting was super from the word go and the lovely singing of this Elvis anthem known by everyone in the audience. (who were singing immediately!) I just sat back relaxed with my notebook and pen and smiled. This was going to be a good show. The Director was Gavin Quigley. This young man did a wonderful job on directing this show. Words like talented and inspiring and creative come to mind.  Being not only Director but also was Stage Manager and a part of the Set Design and Costumes and Props. Mr Quigley had a huge task, and at the outset I have to say that he shone in all departments. The interactions between the cast, the acting, the special moments, the innovative technology and sets, I could go on and on . I was simply blown away. I have never seen a set design like it. It was simply incredible. With too many special moments to list in this section, so many of these are highlighted throughout my adjudication, as the brainchild and result of Mr Quigley’s talent. Mr Quigley created along with his entire team a production that was fluid, energetic and a picture from start to finish. There was not a moment in this production or in his Direction I could criticise – honestly. Congratulations Mr Quigley. This is a huge choreography show and for Choreographer Leah Meagher I have one word. Phenomenal. Every single step of each dance number and movement in this show was excellent and magnificently executed. You are one talented young lady and I have no doubt you spent hours and hours perfecting each one of these moves in each number. The choreography in this show was as near perfect as I can describe with so many numbers too many to mention, but I will particularly draw attention to the Finale of Act2. A spectacular vision in Choreography and one of the best I have ever seen on stage. Mesmerizing throughout. I applaud you. Musical Director was Mr Shane McVicker. Mr McVicker and his Orchestra were superb. A beautiful tone and an energetic vibe emanated from this talented group. Mr McVicker also played piano in the Orchestra, along with the following: Darren Bell, Guitar, Neville Lloyd Bass, Ben Cooper Drums, Trumpet Mark Adams, Sax Aisling Reilly, and Trombone Karl Ronan. The work done alongside chorus mistress Tomasina McGinnity regarding the quality of the choral singing was simply magnificent but more on that later. All musical cues were spot on, the principal singing, choral, and orchestra were all conducted with sublime energy passion and talent. Stage Manager and set design as mentioned was Mr Gavin Quigley, and was also part of the Costumes and Props team. This show moved flawlessly, and it was so slick. There were a huge number of set changes, from Jailhouse to Sylvias Bar, to the Bus Station (magnificent bus) to the funfair and many others. It was as if there was a team of 30 moving everything so smoothly. However, your stage crew and team were indeed just four others – Dessie McGarry, Niall McMahon, Cillian Cromwell and Darragh Keenan. Your job as a team meant that this production flowed beautifully and given the amount of work involved in your role it was done perfectly. Well done on this job (your one of many!) it was perfect. Sylvias Bar was fabulous. Coupled with amazing lighting there was great attention to detail with the bottles on the shelves, the posters, the red brick wall effect, the little step in the centre creating depth and height, I could go on ! Original Set Design was as mentioned above the responsibility of Mr Quigley but also Mr Andrew Browne, who was also the gentleman behind the magnificent visions and colours. Excellent. The sets involved such technology. Panels permanently on stage which simply changed when needed to represent another scene, another location, another visual. It was superb and so hard to describe. Well Done! Set Painting Team - Cecilia Richard, Alan Halpin, Conall McMahon, Eva McMahon, Calum Duffy, Shauna Fitzpatrick, Sarah Louise Hart, Sara Parge, (again!) Chantelle McCabe and Paige Kelly (again!) (Lorraine). Super. Well done everyone. Set Construction was the responsibility of Damien Barry, Cian McKevitt, Gary Willmott, Andrew O’Rourke and Karl Parge. What an amazing job you did. I can still see that magnificent three-dimensional bus, the Funfair, and the Jailhouse and the attention to detail in each of these and the rest, but I will just highlight the above as I have never seen anything quite like the professionalism of these sets. Also, the panels used upstage which created pictures with lighting and the depth of the visuals with so many levels of the stage being used. Every one of these sets with NO exception were magnificent and magically a vision. I can still see them as I am writing. Well done to an exceptional team. Mr Thomas Fitzgerald looked after Lighting. Where do I start. I have never ever experienced such a feast of vision and glory and pure brilliance in each moment of this show. It was truly beautiful. The subtle touches, the reds for Jailhouse Rock the lights all around the theatre surrounding the audience, the colours for the whole show but particularly for both Finales. Act 1 and Act 2. It was amazing and most definitely one of the continuous highlights of this show. You are an extremely talented young man, despite the small technical issue addressed further on where you and your team in fact, turned it around to your advantage, because you had courage to address the issue or lose the effects for the rest of the show which would have been wrong and heart-breaking for the cast and your brilliance continued through to the very end with your lighting at the helm. One example to mention at the top of the show, I loved the blue lighting in the opening scene creating a lovely atmosphere with Natalie high up backstage centre with a lovely spotlight on her as she sang her opening number joined by Dennis. At the end of the number and very cleverly done underneath the set that Natalie was standing on, there was a gate and all of a sudden, the gate was opened and branched into smaller bars and gates and smoothly and very effectively we immediately were transferred to the Jailhouse for “Jailhouse Rock” the whole set turned fire red with one spotlight shining down on one person – “Chad”. Simply Incredible. Just moments before the end of the first half there was a slight technical hitch and a single gentleman dressed in black came on stage and announced very calmly that the show needed to be stopped for a moment as there was a small technical issue that had to be fixed. This was one brave young man and I applaud him as I did on the evening itself after the show backstage when I acknowledged what a difficult decision this was to make but also to announce. It was all sorted in a few minutes and the show continued. Was it necessary to do this you may ask? Absolutely. The shows visuals, sound, lighting, sets, set designs everything in this production was colossal, a mammoth task a visual miracle and a feast of colour to the eyes - a beautiful sight at every turn in every scene in every song, and hours and hours of work to bring this to the level of this show that was on stage that night. Nothing would have worked had the necessary flaw not been corrected. Bravo for doing what had to be done, even if it was only a few minutes. Sound was by One Louder Sound. And Sound Operator Cian Murphy. This was a massive part of this production. Many personal mikes were used – neither too loud nor too soft, it was consistently beautifully balanced throughout this show. On this note also I must mention Mic Dressing was the responsibility of Ms Elizabeth Finegan. Not an error or a blip in sound throughout and I would also like to add the mics were subtly hidden on each actor. A perfect job. Well done. Going back to Mr Murphy, the sound throughout was balanced, and filled the theatre so much that at many times during this production I felt that from my seat the singers were beside me! Brilliant. I hope to see your work again soon. Well done Mr Murphy and indeed Ms Finegan on a great job magnificently done. Costumes and Props were all looked after by Mandy Cumiskey, Gavin Quigley, Petrina Murray, Sara Parge, Detta Sheridan and Betty Brennan. Superb. A magnificent vision of colour and flair. What stood out for me was the very subtle touch of Blue Suede Shoes – everyone had them including myself! Hairstyles, which I also must mention particularly Sylvias and Ms Sandra’s and Lorraine’s, but really for everyone were so in keeping with the Rock and Roll era of Elvis. The attention to props in this show is commendable I am a fan of attention to detail, and you had it in bucketloads. Well done and a super job again – impeccable and every single costume and prop in their perfection enhanced the show greatly. Fantastic work. Chad played by Chris Bass arrives singing Roustabout as a solo. This gentleman had an excellent presence and look on stage befitting of a Chad and I liked this character immediately. Roustabout was a great number sung with passion and emotion and a bit of fun and we are immediately drawn to this likeable character. “Lovin My Baby” with the Company was a brilliant number I loved the height with some of the Company up high backstage, company down stage and Chad in centre stage. Again, perfect Choreography, great lighting and fabulous set and singing. A very commendable performance throughout in this challenging huge part. Well done Mr Bass. Natalie played by Ciara O’Neill was a role played perfectly by Ms O’Neill. A true Tomboy but with the voice as sweet as sugar, great stage presence and vocally very strong. “One Night with You” and particularly “Follow that Dream” was vocally a hit. Natalie shone in this number. This duo looked well together. So beautifully sung with gusto and emotion. Lovely vocals here by Chad and Natalie. There are many times in this show that I did not want the numbers to finish such were the infectious smiles and energy, and Ms O’Neill brought that energy to her performance which I so enjoyed. Great work. Dennis was played by Gavin Murphy. Where do I start? Dennis – I adored his character. I loved every single line- spoken, sung, choreographed and acted. His facial expressions, the way he pushed his glasses continuously up his nose, his reactions – brilliant, as well as costuming, but mostly – mostly his empathy and great love for your lovely friend Natalie endeared me to Mr Murphy’s character from the word go. Full of many things including love, music and friendship, I truly enjoyed each time Dennis, that lovely guy that Mr Murphy portrayed arrived on stage. Oh, and did I mention that I laughed until my sides hurt. BRAVO! Ms Sandra was played by Louise Steele. What a strong character, with great stage presence, and good comedic timing – when she discovers that Ed – her Ed-  is indeed Natalie the reaction was priceless. Again, lovely costumes and marvellous hair so befitting of the era and singing in “Teddy Bear / Hound Dog” with Natalie, Chad, and Dennis was superb. However, it was in the number “Let Yourself Go” that Ms Steele came into her own with her movement, facial expression and singing. Her acting impressively showed a very passionate young lady, a character she made her own. Super. The part of Sylvia was played by Carol McCourt. A lovely actress with a beautiful soft lyrical voice, which we were introduced to in the “Heartbreak Hotel “number, for me you really shone in your beautiful solo in the Act 2 “There’s always me”. A lovely number emphasising your love for Jim Haller. Ms McCourt also looked great, beautiful costumes and lovely hairstyle. You moved and danced so elegantly, and you looked both gracious and graceful in every scene. Congratulations. Jim Haller was played by James Brennan. A quiet sad gentleman and Natalie’s Dad. A lovely part and you did it so well. There was a silent lonely sadness that emanated from you emphasising the loss of your beloved wife – Natalie’s Mam when you spoke and sang. Your connection with Sylvia which initially was just a friendship blossomed into something more and this was wonderfully portrayed as your story unfolded throughout the show. You looked great spoke clearly and beautifully and had a marvellous singing voice mentioning specifically your duet with Chad “Don’t Be Cruel”. Lorraine was played by Paige Kelly. Again, such a lovely mover, actress and singer. There was a lovely connection between Ms Paige and Dean played by Adam Lynagh and very good onstage chemistry between this duo. Ms Kelly’s costumes again were beautiful and your singing – particularly “That’s All Right” and “It’s Now or Never” with Dean and the full company was a showstopper. You were beautifully cast; a great personality and bubbly enthusiasm and I really enjoyed your performance. Well done! Dean Hyde played by Adam Lynagh was a well portrayed character, breaking free from the shackles of his strict mother and finding love with Lorraine. A lovely singing voice which shone in the duets. They were a lovely couple on stage, they both looked great, and voices blended beautifully lovely scenes and lovely singing consistently between these two and I looked forward to you both coming on stage each time. “That’s alright” and “It’s now or never” sung with the Company were lovely scenes, great rapport and a lovely duo singing perfectly together as mentioned above and perfect costumes and hairstyles. Well Done, Mr Hyde. Mayor Matilda played by Lorraine Cotter was a tour de force from the moment she arrived on stage. Personally, I wouldn’t like to offend her in anyway – so I won’t! What a lovely role and a fabulous contrast to your partner in crime - pardon the pun – Sheriff Earl. Chalk and cheese and it worked wonderfully. Great costume, and lovely acting. I really liked these two characters together. Sheriff Earl was played by Peter Phillips. Not much of a script to learn (!) however silence has a loud voice and throughout the show by Mayor Matilda’s side he subtly and quietly followed her around like a lapdog. Great direction here and a what a lovely Sherriff he was. What worked for you Mr Phillips is your huge contrasting character between Sheriff Earl– the silent quiet one and Mayor Matilda – the not so silent and quiet one!! A lovely part played perfectly. Heartbreak Hotel” opens with the sassy and lovely voice of Henrietta played by Danielle Casey. What a powerhouse of a voice Ms Casey. So strong and a great introduction to this number. You have a lovely quality and tone and I wanted to hear more! Well done. Chorus Mistress was Tomasina McGinnity. Hours and hours of rehearsals must have gone into the Chorus work for this show. The Chorus were magnificent – and could act and dance superbly. This is a big chorus show. There were 38 people in the Chorus of this show along with 3 Pit Singers, and although I am tempted to name you all individually, I do not have the room! One word. Brilliant. Every single Chorus number and there were many, was glorious. To name but a few – “C’mon Everybody”, “It’s Now or Never”, “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, “A Little Less Conversation a Little More Action”, and the oh so beautiful “Fools Fall in Love” along with your 8-minute Finale “Fools Fall in Love”, “Burning Love”, and Encore number “C’mon Everybody”. However, from the opening of the show to the very last note, you enjoyed, danced, sang your hearts out and most importantly seemed to be having an absolute ball doing so! You are a wonderful Society. Full of fun, energy, talent, smiles and are a great team. I adored your performance and what you did to create this picture perfect “All Shook Up” with all its lovely music, dance, and acting. Thank you for transporting me to a different land – the land of Elvis and his music the land of Sylvias Bar, the land of funfairs and love, of song and lessons to be learned. A land where…. “If I can dream of a better land, Where all my brothers walk hand in hand Tell me why, oh why, cant my dream come true….. There must be peace and understanding sometime, Strong winds of promise that will blow away the doubt and fear, If I can dream of a warmer sun, Where hope keeps shining on everyone … While I can think, while I can talk, While I can stand, while I can walk, while I can dream please let my dream come true….. You did that tonight. Every single of you……Bravo. Caroline Daly Jones, Sullivan Adjudicator 2023/24 Some photos kindly provided by the society.
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