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Michael Collins as presented by Killarney Musical Society

Updated: Apr 26


Adjudication Performance 6th March 2024

I had the absolute pleasure of attending the lovely INEC in Killarney on the evening of the 6th of March 2024. Lashing wind and rain did not stop the audience from turning up in their droves for this performance of Michael Collins, a Musical Drama production. I looked forward to this production as I took my seat in this lovely INEC Arena, a special place for hundreds of us. Killarney is indeed a beautiful place, and after my long drive from Wexford that day, it was lovely to see such camaraderie and friendship amongst this team, with the lovely Sorcha O’Connor looking after me and making me feel so at home and so very welcome.

The Front of House team was professional, huge in numbers, dressed well, all in black, and worked well together. Well done to everyone on the Front of House team. Bravo.

Mr Oliver Hurley directed this production. Mr Hurley created a powerful and moving production that successfully brought history to life in a visually impacting way to the stage. Mr Hurley created lovely pictures, visually powerful storytelling, beautiful music, and solid performances. It had beautiful, intricate attention to detail and a most talented, confident cast displaying a passion in their characters, giving so much depth to the story and, indeed, the show’s success.

Extensive use of the enormous stage was used beautifully and very cleverly, particularly concerning the moving staircases or steps, which were on casters and used so very effectively throughout to change a scene visually very quickly by the simple movement of one or indeed all of the staircases. The individual performances, the choral movements, the clever use of sets, and the sheer mammoth task of bringing this show to life left the audience wanting more, and that is, in my opinion, what a good Director brings to a show to knit the whole production together. Super Job.

Mr Oliver Hurley was also a Choreographer for this production. The choreography here was beautifully visually, moving as one, and professional. And yet, each cast member and ensemble moved with ease with specific mention of the ensemble movement in the more significant musical numbers of the show, such as “The Call of Freedom,” powerfully moved, setting the scene and capturing the spirit of their rebellion and the utter and desire for independence. “A New Dawn” with looking forward with hope for the future. The choreography for this show was highly energetic, ideally moved with not one step out of place, and a visual exhibit of near perfection, passion, and life. Beautifully moving, strong, solid, and professional.

Mr. Michael Young was the Musical Director for this show. When the show opened, a magnificent sound emanated from the pit in this fine theatre. Mr Young had a team of exceptional talent here in this group of musicians, each an expert in their field, each

song, movement, overture and solo accompanying the cast beautifully, with great feeling and tone and a beautiful balance between the Orchestra and the cast entirely. Mr Young and his Orchestra beautifully brought out the best in his team, accompanying the cast through huge, robust numbers to the quieter, more emotional ones. This Orchestra was a joy to listen to. This was an assured, confident, melodic, and emotional music extravaganza. Thank you, Mr Young, for your wonderful Musical Direction with this team.

Stage Managers were Mr. Frank Ashe and Ms. Pam Brosnan. A good team here. I very much liked the sets. I loved how simple they were and yet how successful they were. This is a vast production and no mean feat for any Stage Manager; however, you made this look simple, which I know it was not, having visited backstage after the show. Well done to you and your team in your role as Stage Managers—a great job and a good partnership.

Sets consisted of the use of movable staircases throughout the performance. These were a) huge and b) clever and filled the vast stage of the INEC, yet they never overwhelmed the cast or were too busy. These staircases glided around the stage, moved beautifully, and very much enhanced the production, allowing the stairs to be used as seats for the cast to sit on, as speaking points such as Michael Collins speeches, as different levels of height and depth visually for the Ensemble throughout creating beautiful pictures all with the steps however all so different and enhanced continually by the glorious lighting. Every single set piece in this production worked very well and cleverly.

Sound Design and Operation was by Star Systems Thurles. The sound throughout this production, from beginning to end, without any fault whatsoever, was magnificent, flawless, and powerful. This is a big venue, a big show, a big cast, a lot of music, a lot of dialogue, and a lot of people speaking, singing, moving, and dancing together across a vast stage and a whole house in a massive venue. Simply terrific. Bravo. Mr John Hurley looked after Lighting Design and Operation. Again, I will say the same as I did about the sound. Fantastic lighting throughout this show. Magnificent work on spots on individuals, beautiful colour creations, and shooting colours in scenes such as the superb red pillar light effects on the stone walls at the opening of Act 2, matching the backdrop in black with Michael Collins written in vibrant red. There are many uses for beautiful lighting throughout this show. All of this enhanced the show for its audience and cast, and I loved the contrasts used in various scenes to darken, brighten, or envelop the actors and the cast. It was simply wonderfully done. The lighting in this production was a resounding success. It was a visual picture and a treat and greatly enhanced this production from beginning to end. Well done Mr Hurley.

Costumes were provided by Nomac Productions, Tralee Musical Society, Killarney Musical Society, and Val Sherlock Wigs. With a strong wardrobe team, they were appropriate, pristine, and authentic. Visually very effective.

Props, under the care of Marie Maloney, Martina O’Riordan, and Stage It, Wexford showed meticulous attention to detail. I mentioned some of them to highlight a few and show how good the props were. The typewriter is so fantastic; it is a piece of history. The newspapers, the forms which had on them, typed up beautifully “Articles of Agreement Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, specifically stating “signed in London” on the 6th of December 1921 in bold old fashioned calligraphy print. Fabulous. Magnificent attention to detail and well done, Props team.

Keith Dwyer Green played Michael Collins. Tall, eloquent, and beautiful acting skills added to the success of Mr Dwyer Green as Michael Collins. In his acting, Mr Dwyer Green was a vigorous Michael Collins, and his commanding stage presence looked

great. He had a lovely stage presence and rapport with his fellow actors and cast. His relationship with his best friend Harry Boland, played by Lloyd Fitzgibbon, was very well

played. A vast amount of dialogue and a huge vocal role are required here in this part. I did feel that the higher range vocally in the part was a little too high for you in a few places. . The vocal in one or two higher parts was a little strained than your lower register. This is a small remark given the complexity and massive responsibility that landed on your shoulders in this magnificent role, and indeed, you acted it with aplomb, fire, leadership, and passion However, you were an excellent Collins for all the reasons mentioned above. What endeared me to you was that you played this role from your heart and with your heart. And that was truly lovely to see. Congratulations.

Clodagh Harrington played Kitty Kiernan. Visually, melodically, a joy and a lovely actress. From the moment you stepped on stage, Ms Harrington, I was impressed by your presence, the ease with which you moved about the stage, and, primarily, your gorgeous facial expression. Your eyes and your smile lit up the stage and your character. You glided around the stage in this part, and you created your Kitty Kiernan beautifully, and she was gorgeous. Your interaction in every scene, particularly with Michael, Harry, and the Players, was very well done, and “Every Heart Awaken” with these two and the Ensemble at the end of Act 1 was gorgeous. This was an excellent role for you, Ms Harrington, and suited you down to the ground. You were a lovely Kitty Kiernan, and your joy, sorrow, pain, and love for these men who entered your life were palpable, and you were a joy to watch on stage vocally and theatrically.

Lloyd Fitzgibbon played the part of Harry Boland. Mr Fitzgibbon was strong in this role. Mr. Fitzgibbon, this was a wonderful part for you. You had a lovely connection with Michael Collins and had a beautiful connection with the love of your life – your Kitty Kiernan. You took this part and made it your own, Mr Fitzgibbon. Throughout this production, your energy, passion, leadership, friendship with your fellow men, connection with De Valera, lovely stage presence, emotion, and heartbreak were all too apparent. You have a beautiful voice. You sing from your soul, and your performance and the character you created made you one to remember in your role as Harry Boland, Mr Fitzgibbon—a joy.

Tim Moran played the part of Eamon De Valera. Superbly cast. I am unsure if you look like De Valera or if it was an excellent wardrobe costume and makeup. Still, you were indeed visually an impeccable De Valera—you had excellent diction, crisp, authoritative, a leader, and a man who took no nonsense. You commanded the stage throughout. A significant role, Mr Moran, that suited you. You were critical to the success of this production and a key player overall with a substantial and comfortable stage presence that did work—well done.

Aaron McClaren played the part of Joe Emmet. What a significant part. I had a soft spot for this lovely character from when he stepped on stage as Michael Collins's wingman and loyal, trustworthy friend and shadow. I nearly cried with you when your good friend Michael Collins was killed. It's a gorgeous part so well played, and you made it yours. You would have given your life for Michael Collins. That was obvious. With you by his side, Mr. McClaren as Joe Emmet, Michael Collins was a lucky man. Bravo.

PLAYER 1 was Fiona Crowley. This was a lady who impressed me from the moment she arrived on stage with her lovely lyrical voice so well suited to this part with a beautiful warm facial expression and a stage presence that did highlight that this young lady is a natural on stage and born to be on it. Lovely acting talent, so softly yet clearly spoken, and a gorgeous vocal and an adorable accent only added to the performance as a leader and as a quartet with Players 2, 3, & 4 were a vital link in the chain of events and the story.

Gerry Adams played PLAYER 2 (Peter). Again, he was a powerful presence on stage, a strong vocalist, and very eloquent. He was assured and confident in this role, again, so well-cast and again a strong link, with excellent rapport and a leader with excellent stage experience. He looked great as a part of this vital group of four and was a key player again with a lovely stage presence.

Siobhan Bustin played PLAYER 3 (Delia). A lovely vocal, very well cast in this role, and again, this quartet visually and collectively had a significant impact on stage. Ms Bustin showed lovely calmness and confidence in this role. You moved beautifully and quickly around the stage and were a tremendous team player. You have a significant role, beautiful acting, and a natural love tone and warmth in your vocals in this lovely role.

Derek O’Leary played PLAYER 4 (Michael), a robust and confident player in this group. Mr O’Leary looked great and was part of the strong link required by each player in this show to ensure its success. His stage presence and vocals were lovely. He was assured and confident and played this part very well.

Elaine Kearney played Mother Ireland. And the haunting “Anuna” style of your vocals was so lovely. The powerful, eerie stage presence glides gracefully and beautifully around the stage slowly and carefully. Ghostlike and mysterious and a beautiful voice. A vital role in the show. Great costume, great stillness, and indeed great sadness portrayed here, Ms Kearney. It's a lovely part which you played very well.

Derry Healy played Arthur Griffith's part. Again, he had physical strength in his stage presence and a great speaking voice eloquently sung with fight, passion, and power. You would inspire a turtle to run with your leadership qualities, Mr. Healy. Again, it's a fabulous part with great vocals and cast. Strong, a leader, and a great actor. Well done. Eamonn Kelly played the part of Cathal Brugha. A warrior, passionate, vocal, and intense. He has a great costume and a lovely stage presence. There is no such thing as a small part. You were indeed a vital cog in the wheel of this historical journey in this show.

Abby Cronin, Sister 1, Kyla Shine Leane, Sister 2, and Charlene Brosnan, Sister 3, played the Kitty sisters— pretty, significant interaction, lovely stage presence, and a good team. Even cast as Kitty Kiernan sisters, you each individually display a wide range of emotions and, importantly, the strength of women during such a disturbing political time in Ireland.

This Chorus. Wow. You blew me away with your sound, harmonies, passion, volume, and magnificent singing throughout this show under Mr. Michael Young, Musical Director, Chorus Master, and Ms. Sorcha O’Connor, Chorus Mistress, respectively. What a sound. What magnificent harmonies. What passion. What love. “Fly The Flag of Freedom” I will never forget “The Treaty Song,” “Mouth of the Flowers,” Finale, “Epilogue” Finale Act 2. The beautiful, moving, and so emotional “Every Heart Awaken” lifted the roof of the INEC in Killarney.

I hope the above gives you an understanding of your power in this show. Bravo, I applaud every one of you for the sound you created and what you brought to your stage tonight to us, your audience. Congratulations. It's a fabulous venue, and what a gorgeous production you put on for your audience tonight. It was a joy. Thank you for the loveliest of evenings to you all. It was indeed delightful to be back in Killarney. It is a beautiful place, with beautiful people. And I thank you so very much for bringing your talent and show to your audiences for its duration. May you continue to prosper for a very long time to come. Bravo, and thank you.

Caroline Daly Jones

Sullivan Adjudicator AIMS 2023 / 2024

Some photos kindly shared by the society - Photographers:

Marie Lyne Kelly, Marie Carroll O Sullivan and Valerie O Sullivan


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