top of page

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



Sunday 5th November to Thursday 9th November. 

Date of Adjudicated Performance: Tuesday 7th November 2023


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.


bottom of page