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2 Aug 2024

Calendar Girls the Musical

20 Mar 2025

Fun Home The Musical

4 Dec 2024

A Christmas Carol the Musical

24 Nov 2024

Rock of Ages

21 Nov 2024


Made in Dagenham as presented by St. Mary's MS Navan

Made in Dagenham as presented by St. Mary’s Musical Society, Navan: Thursday 25th April 2024. Striking a blow for feminism, “Made in...

Made in Dagenham as presented by St. Mary’s Musical Society, Navan:   Thursday 25 th April 2024.   Striking a blow for feminism, “Made in Dagenham” demonstrates the power of women when they take it upon themselves to insist upon equal treatment in the workplace, and eventually parity of payment. It does so through the ladies of the Ford Dagenham factory of the 1970’s and ’80, and in particular, through the central character, Rita O’Grady, who becomes the voice of the working women, and reluctantly assumes the mantle of heroine, even at the risk of losing her family in the process. While it may sound like a grim scenario, the show succeeds because it is written with wit and wisdom, an array of amusing characters and a smattering of very good musical numbers, and in the hands of a very experienced director, in this case, Pat McElwain, it has so much good humour and entertainment value to balance with the more dramatic elements of the story.  Not surprisingly, the story requires a woman of stature to carry the central role of Rita, and in Jenny McCabe, such a woman was found. Hers was a performance of strong dramatic quality, very good comedic ability and timing, and a wonderfully confident voice that gave power and punch to her lyrics and emotional tenderness when it was required. This was a very lovely performance from a most capable actress.  As her husband, Eddie, Ronan Walsh gave a strong and very likeable performance, with great delivery of his lines. He fitted in nicely with the brash, boys’ club attitudes of his workmates, but never lost sight of his caring family responsibilities. His “Letter” was very emotionally delivered, but I did think his return to Rita at the end needed to be slightly more humbling and apologetic.  Their children, Graham and Sharon O’Grady, were played with great sincerity by the talented Nick Donnelly and Rebecca Murphy, both of whom made a strong and natural impact in the family scenes.  In the factory setting, Rita was surrounded by a varied assortment of workmates, from the industrious and striving activist, Connie Reilly, played with passion and sentiment by Suzan McDonagh, (particularly affecting in her ‘illness’ scenes), to the outrageously verbose Beryl, with a mouth like a fishwife and an intimidating demeanour. This was a strongly created comedic character, very well played by Deirdre Murphy.  Nicole Smyth was a feisty Sandra, self-absorbed, but ultimately true to her sisters, and performed with good energy and character.  Katie Crosby gave a good confused and befuddled character to Clare, performing her “Wossname” number with good comedy.  Sheena Duffy gave confidence, attitude and character to the role of Cass.  Eddie was equally well-supported in his workplace by cocky and confident performances from Adam Pentony as Sid, Shane Fox as Bill, Patrick Mullaney as Barry and Brandon Grey as Stan. As a group, these guys were strong and stubborn and very capable both physically and vocally.  The management of the Ford Factory was well represented by Sean Flanagan, who had a good smug superiority as Mr. Hopkins, until he withered under the superior smugness of his American Boss, Mr. Tooley, very well played with patronizing arrogance by Barry Murray. His “This is America” was crass and patriotic to the point of being delightfully obnoxious. David Grey was a convincing Gregory Hubble and Alex Hill a very able Mr. Buckton. Bridging the gap between the management and the workers was the delightful yet confused rep, Monty, beautifully played by Andrew Docherty, who showed his exasperation most believably and was most affecting in the sincerity of his emotions for Connie. This was a wonderful performance.  In the Governmental roles, Mary Murphy, though small in stature, was larger than life as the strident and revolutionary political figure, Barbara Castle. This was very well-played and “Ideal World” made us sit up and pay attention. Alongside her, Tony Byrne had a lot of fun sending up the character and personality of former Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and made the most of “Always a Problem”.  Rí Fox gave a nice, posh but passionate portrayal of Lisa Hopkins, putting her husband in his place and adding her support to the women’s struggle.  There were strong cameo performances too, from Shane Fox (again) as the very funny but tasteless comedian, Chubby Chuff, and Ciarán Dunne as the pseudo-smooth Cortina Man, who also doubled, alongside Seán Fitzsimons, as the Parliamentary Aides.  I’m quite sure Director, Pat McElwain, was more than pleased with the contribution of the Chorus to the overall success of the show, for they were strong in their physical presence and very controlled and capable in their vocal presentation. Indeed, musically, the show was strong and secure, with Musical Director, Roisin Heenan, taking the baton to lead an enthusiastic and talented orchestra, who never faltered in their rhythms and tempi. Along with Chorus Mistress, Helen McHugh, they also presented a fine display of vocal quality from a well-drilled chorus, who were precise with their diction and true with their harmonies. Great work also went into the vocal work of that impressive principal line.  Likewise, Choreographer, Laura Douglas, must have been pleased with the standard of dancing from her enthusiastic charges. The “This is America” routine was the best example of good military precision, strong patterns and loads of energy from both the soldiers and the cheerleaders, but there were effective routines too for “Cortina”, “Viva Eastbourne” and lots of good work on the three opening numbers, where the men and women of Dagenham establish themselves.  The show was played against a very good set. It was well-painted, with a good industrial feel to it, with two excellent revolving pieces that provided so many different settings, with all the changes done out of sight of the audience. There was also an impressive central rolling truck that moved in and out with two or three settings on it. Stage managers, Tracy Fitzsimons and  Chris Murphy, did a great job of guaranteeing a smooth-running show, with very few interruptions.  The show was delightfully lit, making use of good colours to create atmosphere, good, isolated areas and efficient cueing. The same could be said for the quality of sound, which was consistently balanced and spot-on with the cueing. Props, throughout were appropriate and well-sourced, and with the exception of a “new” Ford Cortina which looked as if it had seen better days, the show was most satisfactory from a visual point of view. Costumes were always appropriate, and I particularly liked the fusion of the military outfits and the cheer- leader outfits for the “America” number. Make-up was most satisfactory, and there was very good attention to wigs and hairstyles.  Overall, this was a very well-presented show, with bundles of energy and bundles of talent, which made the story poignant in places, emotionally charged, and above all, highly entertaining. In thanking the Front of House team for a warm welcome to Navan, I congratulations to all involved, from front of house to on-stage and backstage, and a very fine production team, for a most enjoyable night in Dagenham. Peter Kennedy Gilbert Adjudicator 23/24 Photos by Nathan Maher

Chess as presented by Dun Laoghaire Musical & Dramatic Society 

DUN LAOGHAIRE MUSICAL AND DRAMATIC SOCIETY, CHESS, 16TH April 2024 to 20th April 2024 Pavillion Theatre, Marine Road, Dun Laoghaire....

DUN LAOGHAIRE MUSICAL AND DRAMATIC SOCIETY,  CHESS, 16TH April 2024 to 20th April 2024 Pavillion Theatre, Marine Road, Dun Laoghaire. Adjudication Performance 19th April 2024 This is a musical drama that I have not seen in a good few years, but remains a crowd puller especially for the numbers that were brought to the pop mainstream in the 80s which so many remember. It was with great excitement that I drove to Dun Laoghaire for this production of Chess. Patrons were warmly welcomed and directed to their seats very efficiently, and with a full house it was a lovely, relaxed atmosphere. Customer service is at its best here. The team was friendly and efficient and I couldn’t wait for the opening.  The Director was Stephen Fagan. Firstly, Mr Fagan did an exceptional job bringing this musical to life. The direction was highly commendable, with Mr Fagan's vision being evident in every show aspect. For instance, the staging and blocking of the opening number, 'The Story of Chess,' was creatively designed to keep the audience engaged throughout the performance. The Set was superb and multifunctional in so many ways. The Director seamlessly brought together the cast and crew to create a production that captured the heart and soul of 'Chess.' The attention to detail and the ability to bring out the character’s emotions on stage were awe-inspiring. Overall, the Director's work was outstanding, and the show's success is a testament to their exceptional talent and hard work. The Direction in this production was simply magnificent. I loved the set, the colours, the angles, the choir on either side of the back of the stage dressed beautifully, and the inclusion of this choir in several pieces, which was extraordinarily touching and emotional. I loved Mr Fagan’s direction for this show at every turn. The audience's emotional response was palpable, with many in tears and others on the edge of their seats, fully immersed in 'Chess.'  The Musical Director was Barry Power. A man of great talent, the music was consistently beautifully executed, and the orchestra was outstanding. Mr. Powers' choice of tempos and dynamics was perfect, particularly in the songs 'Merano' and 'Florence and Molokov, 'where the music's ebb and flow perfectly mirrored the characters' emotional journey. The singers' voices blended beautifully with the music. His ability to communicate the nuances and emotions of the music to the cast and orchestra was impressive. Mr Powers’ hard work and dedication were evident in every note played, and the result was a breathtaking musical score that truly captivated the audience. This orchestra was out on its own regarding quality of sound and professionalism, and with Mr Power at the helm, the cast was in very safe hands. 'Merano,' 'Florence and Molokov,' the glorious 'Pity The Child' which lifted the roof and rightly so, and the unforgettable vision that was 'One Night in Bangkok' and of course stunning 'Anthem' which brought me to the verge of tears. You have an extraordinary gift as a Musical Director.  The Choreographer was Lauren Dooley. The dances were impeccably choreographed and executed flawlessly by the cast. Ms. Dooley's ability to create unique and entertaining dance routines was impressive, and the dances were a highlight of the show. Her attention to detail and ability to bring out the best in the cast were evident in every dance number. I loved what Ms. Dooley did with the movement here, with “One Night in Bangkok” a stunning highlight. The result was a dazzling display of dance. Ms. Dooley's work was a crucial element in the electrifying energy and excitement of the dance routines, which was palpable in the audience's response. Clare MacEntee was the stage manager. This production moved gracefully and quickly to Ms McEntee and her teams credit. This was a tightly run area with excellent organization and professionalism, ensuring the show moved freely and maintained a good pace.  The set design was exceptional and creative, and it played a significant role in the overall positive effect of this musical. The set was multifunctional, and the different levels provided a perfect platform for the cast to sing and act, creating a sense of depth and dimension to the production. The use of colour and texture worked together harmoniously to create a fully immersive environment that transported the audience to different locations. One of the standout features of the set design was the mezzanine level, which was cleverly used for the choir to sing from. I adored the projections on the backstage wall, like a movie showing different elements that represent Chess, and this was very clever and simply lovely. It created an ethereal and haunting effect that was both moving and engaging. The team responsible for the set design should be commended for their hard work and dedication, which helped make this production successful. The Sound was a combined mastery of sound effects and music cues evident from the show’s beginning. The sound quality was clear, crisp, and the sound levels were expertly controlled, ensuring that every word and note was heard perfectly. The balance between the orchestra and the vocals, ensemble, and soloists was perfect, and the sound design added to the beautiful emotional impact of the show. The transitions between scenes were seamless, creating a smooth and immersive experience for the audience. Overall, the sound was excellent, especially on the front line, without exception.  The lighting in this lovely production was stunning. The use of colour, intensity, and movement created a dynamic and genuinely stunning environment for the show. The lighting was used to set the mood and tone of each scene, from the bright and energetic "One Night in Bangkok" to the haunting and emotional "Anthem." The lighting design was also used to create a sense of location, from the bright lights of Bangkok to the dark and sombre atmosphere of the Soviet Union. Using moving lights and gobo projections added an extra dimension to the production, creating a visually stunning and immersive experience for the audience. The lighting transitions were smooth and flawless, and the overall effect was breathtaking.  The costumes in "Chess," the musical, were terrific! I loved how the costumes changed throughout the show, adding a new dimension to the performers' characters. It was visually stunning, with intricate details and impressive use of colour, significantly impacting the stage. Overall, the costumes in "Chess" the musical were outstanding. The costumes' creativity, attention to detail, and functionality were impressive and played a significant role in bringing the characters and the production to life.  The Hair and Makeup team did a fantastic job in this production. The hair and makeup team created a range of looks that reflected the individual characters' personalities and emotions, which was impressive. Overall, the hair and makeup team's work in this production was exceptional, and their contribution to the show's success cannot be overstated. The Props team created various functional and visually appealing items for this production. One of the standout props in the show was the chessboard, which was used throughout the production and was integral to the plot. The chessboard was beautifully crafted, and its intricate design added to the lovely visual. The Props team's attention to detail was also evident in the smaller items, such as the newspapers, books, and letters used throughout the show. These items were all period-appropriate and most definitely added to the overall appearance of reality most effectively.  Máirín Hayes played the part of Florence. Ms Hayes was a stunning character in this production. Her physical appearance and manner were charming and striking, and Ms Hayes carried herself with grace and elegance throughout the show. Her acting was superb, and she brought strength and emotion to this part of Florence that was genuinely captivating. Her character was seamless and believable. But it was her vocal prowess that truly shone. Her voice was rich and powerful, with a beautiful tone that filled the theatre with every note. Her rendition of "Nobody's Side" was a particular highlight, with her voice soaring effortlessly through each note of every song in this young lady character, which was a joy to watch and listen to.  Jack Hopkins played the part of Anatoly. This was a superb portrayal of Anatoly and was inspiring and emotional. Mr Hopkins' vocal range is impressive. From the moment he first stepped on stage, he commanded the audience's attention with his commanding presence and powerful voice. His rendition of "Anthem" was particularly moving, with his soaring vocals sending chills down the audience's spine, and his delivery of the song's poignant lyrics left many in tears, including me. A fabulous performance, well done.  Gavin Molony played the part of Freddy. Mr. Molony, as Freddy, delivered an outstanding performance vocally and in terms of acting ability in this production. His rendition of "Pity The Child" was breathtaking, sung with such a range and tone that it left a lasting impression on me. Acting-wise, Mr. Molony brought a calm and confident energy to the character that was both admirable and endearing. As a world champion at Chess, he portrayed the character with knowledge and confidence in his gift that was impressive, even if somewhat cocky at times. This balance of trust and vulnerability made his performance so compelling to watch. Overall, Mr. Molony's performance as Freddy was nothing short of incredible. His exceptional talent and dedication to the role shone through in every aspect of his performance, creating a fully realized and multi-dimensional portrayal that was a true highlight of the show. His vocal range and acting ability were stunning, and his performance of "Pity The Child" was an unforgettable moment in the production. I will use one word to summarise Mr. Molony's performance as Freddy Trumper. And that word is Incredible.  Leonna Condron played the part of Svetlana. From the moment she arrived on stage in her stunning white ensemble, Ms Condron commanded attention with her captivating stage presence. Ms Condron's singing voice was breathtaking, with a velvet-like quality that added a layer of depth and emotion to the character of Svetlana. Her vocals and diction effortlessly conveyed the character's vulnerability, strength, and determination.  Ms Condron possessed a remarkable physical presence on stage. Her movements were graceful, fluid, and captivating, which added to the overall impact of her performance. She brought a unique approach to the character of Svetlana that made her stand out from the rest of the cast. Ms Condron's interpretation of the character was compelling and authentic, which made her portrayal all the more believable and relatable.  Overall, Ms. Condron brought her A-game to every aspect of the role, from her singing to her stage presence, and her glamour and finesse to every character were evident in every scene. Her performance was a pleasure to watch; a beautiful role played superbly.  Brian Dennison played the part of Molokov. Mr Dennison's portrayal of Molokov was another excellent performance. From the moment he stepped onto the stage, Mr. Dennison commanded attention with his powerful and commanding presence. His delivery of Molokov's lines was impeccable, with a perfect balance of menace and charm that kept the audience on edge throughout the show. Mr Dennison's performance was a crucial element in this show's success.  Mikey Deasy played the part of Walter. Mr Deasy demonstrated a strong understanding of strategic principles, which was portrayed well. Ultimately, his acting capabilities shone when this character changed, and his lapse of judgment cost him a potential victory, which was very well played. Good stage presence.  David Hynes played the Arbiter. While there may have been a few fleeting moments of nervousness in the opening scene, Mr. Hynes quickly found his footing and delivered a solid performance throughout the rest of the production. His vocal abilities were excellent, and he brought a lovely, strong character to the stage. His attention to detail in his appearance was impeccable, and his stage presence was commanding. Mr. Hynes's performance in his solo number, "The Arbiter," was awe-inspiring. He showcased his vocal range and demonstrated his ability to command the stage. His facial expressions and body language conveyed a sense of authority and control essential to the role. Overall, Mr. Hynes's performance as the Arbiter was excellent, and his talent and dedication to the role were evident in every moment he was on stage.  This Chorus was an exceptional group of performers who brought artistry, precision, and energy to the awe-inspiring show. From the opening number, 'The Story of Chess,' to the powerful “One Night in Bangkok,” the Chorus demonstrated beautiful harmonies and shone in the numbers. In 'Merano,' they transitioned effortlessly between the Italian and English lyrics, displaying their versatility and skill. Their execution of the complex harmonies and rhythms in 'One Night in Bangkok' was remarkable.  Overall, this Society has a strong foundation and many strengths to build on. From start to finish, this was a simply profound and visually enchanting production. I firmly believe this society will continue to grow and thrive in the years to come, and I wish you all the best of luck. Thank you again for the privilege of being your Adjudicator for this marvellous spectacle that was your magic for this year. It was a pleasure. Caroline Daly Jones Adjudicator 2023 / 2024  Photos by Ken McFarland Photography / Edits by David Hynes

Legally Blonde as presented by Baldoyle Musical Society


BALDOYLE MUSICAL SOCIETY  LEGALLY BLONDE ST MARYS SECONDARY SCHOOL BALDOYLE 16TH – 20TH APRIL 2024 Adjudication Performance 17th April 2024 This Society has been staging musicals since 1973. The Hall was so full and noisy and excited, the atmosphere was palpable. I had a lovely seat, and the team I met on the way in was so effusive in their welcome that I was humbled. I got that “Family” feeling, and it was lovely to meet the Cast. The Front of House team was perfect, and I must mention Moira Nolan, who looked after me like I was part of her family and were outstanding, providing excellent service and assistance to every single member of this audience. The team's efficiency and attention to detail were impressive, and they ensured that the evening ran smoothly and seamlessly. Well done to all involved! The Director was Ms Yvette Cuffe. Firstly, Ms Cuffe’s interpretation of the narrative of 'Legally Blonde' was a refreshing blend of light-heartedness and empowering themes. Her direction maintained a brisk pace, keeping the audience engaged throughout. She successfully brought to life the magical and joyous spirit of Elle Woods, a feat that was greatly appreciated by the audience. Her creative vision was a crucial factor in the success of this production.  The Musical Director, Mr Gay Kirwan, led a fabulous orchestra. From the very first moment when he lifted his baton as Musical Director and Conductor, Mr. Kirwan's exceptional ability to seamlessly meld the musical elements with the direction and choreography was commendable. The vocal arrangements, in particular, enhanced the emotional resonance of the songs and showcased the cast's vocal agility. I was genuinely impressed by his beautiful talent throughout. “Blood in The Water”, “Harvard Variations,” “Chip on my Shoulder,” and I cannot mention THE highlight of Act 2, “Gay Or European,” brought the house down Mr Kirwan's musical direction was integral to the show's success, and he played a significant role in bringing the story to life.  Choreographer Sinead McCrohan's guidance was instrumental in making the choreography a standout aspect of the production. Her dynamic routines were visually stunning and mirrored the vibrant personality of Elle Woods. The cast's energy and precision in executing these routines were a testament to McCrohan's clear vision and the countless hours of rehearsals. The 'Bend and Snap' sequence was a flawlessly orchestrated and humorous highlight. The movement in this production was so slick and loaded with energy, vibrancy, and tremendous confidence in all the choreography. It was just so joyful. Being just in the audience was a joy because the vibe and energy leaped from the stage, making us feel exhilarated and entertained.  The sets, for the most part, were a success, mainly due to the exceptional contributions of the entire technical team. There were one or two slow set changes, and they distracted a little from the continuation of the story; however, these few scenes, compared to the overall production, were minimal in intrusion. On the evening I attended, there was a problem with the projections in Act 1, which was a little distracting. The attention to detail was evident in every aspect of the Set Design, and the team's hard work was awe-inspiring. The sets were constructed and painted to a very high standard and perfectly complemented the story. The brick wall effect was a real eyecatcher, and the Dewys trailer park caravan was very apt and effective to name but one of many scenes that were very well thought out and designed practically and visually pleasing to the eye.  The sound design was outstanding, with a perfect balance between music and vocals and excellent use of sound effects, enhancing the audience's experience significantly. The team responsible for the technical presentation should be commended for their exceptional work. The sound design was one of the production's highlights, perfectly balancing music and vocals. The clarity of the sound on the evening of the adjudication was impressive, and there was never a moment where the dialogue was lost or unclear.  The lighting design was also particularly worthy of specific mention because the imaginative and creative use of colour and lighting cues helped to create an immersive experience for the audience. I loved the excellent use of spotlights in the mirages of greens and blues and the vibrant lighter colours in scenes such as Harvard and Paulette’s Salon.  The team responsible for costumes should be commended for their exceptional work. The vibrant and visually stunning costumes perfectly complemented the story and the characters' personalities. The attention to the small details, such as the Delta Nu sorority outfits, was particularly noteworthy.  The makeup and hair were also executed really well, enhancing the characters' features and adding depth to their personalities. The hairstyles were particularly effective in creating a polished and professional look.  The props, such as the law books and the courtroom gavels, were also expertly crafted. Overall, the costumes, makeup, hair, and props were a standout aspect of this production, and the team responsible for them should be proud of their contribution to this beautiful show. Karen McCourt played the part of Elle Woods exceptionally well. Her energetic and bubbly personality captured the essence of the character, and her comedic timing was impeccable. Her vocals were strong, and she brought a lot of emotion to her musical numbers. Her performance of "So Much Better" was awe-inspiring, and she displayed a lot of range in her acting skills. Overall, her performance was vibrant, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable. Daire Kelly played Emmett Forrest and gave a standout performance. He had a fabulous stage presence, and I liked this gentleman's take on this character and made it his own. His chemistry with Elle was palpable, and their scenes together were some of the best in the show. Mr Kelly delivered his lines with conviction and had a natural charm that made him likable. His vocals were also strong, and his rendition of 'Chip on My Shoulder' was a production highlight. Overall, his portrayal of Emmett Forrest was excellent and added a lot to the show.  David McGrath played the part of Warner Huntington 111 and did an excellent job in his role. He perfectly captured the character's entitled and privileged personality while showing his vulnerability and insecurities. He had a good stage presence and delivered his lines with confidence. His singing was also impressive, and his " Serious " performance was noteworthy. Overall, his portrayal of Warner was well-executed and added much to the show. I liked Mr McGrath in this role. Well done.  Nicola Smith played the part of Vivienne Kensington. Ms Smith gave a solid performance. She portrayed the character's arrogant and competitive personality exceptionally well and had good chemistry with the other actors. Her vocals were impressive, and her rendition of "Legally Blonde Remix" was a highlight of the production. A lovely role for you, Ms Smith, and very well played.  Sinead McMullen played the part of Brooke Wyndham. A standout performance. Ms Wyndham had a fabulous stage presence and brought a lot of energy to her scenes. Her singing and dancing were impressive, and her "Whipped into Shape" rendition was a production highlight. She also had excellent comedic timing and brought a lot of humour to the role. Her portrayal of Brooke Wyndham was superb and added much to the show. Nathan Durkin played Kyle and gave an excellent performance. He was energetic and brought a lot of dry humour and fun to the role. His singing and dancing were impressive, and he had great chemistry with the other characters. His performance of "There! Right There!" was particularly noteworthy, and he had the audience laughing throughout the show. Overall, his portrayal of Kyle was excellent, and I loved this role, as did your audience. Superbly played.  Peter Fitzsimons played the part of Professor Callahan and gave a compelling and rock-solid performance. Mr Fitzsimons portrayed the character's manipulative and selfish personality well and had good chemistry with the other actors. His singing was impressive, and his "Blood in the Water" performance highlighted the production. Overall, his portrayal of Professor Callaghan was intense, a change from the norm of the rest of the cast in his formality, but was highly believable and suited this part well. I was very impressed with your performance throughout Mr Fitzsimons.  Kathryn Gibbons played Paulette Bonafonte's part. This young lady was a standout character in this production. The authentic performance drew us into her journey, salon, AND love life!! Ms. Gibbons’ portrayal of Paulette was genuinely heartwarming, and I know the audience felt a strong connection to her through their / our reactions and explosive applause after the song “Ireland.” The character's evolution throughout the show was handled beautifully. I was very impressed by Ms Gibbons’ ability to convey the character's intricate, buzz, and gorgeous personality.  The trio of Serena, played by Erin Russ, Pilar played by Katie Burrows, and Margot, played by Ellen Ahern, were a delight to watch and a hugely positive addition to this production. Their marvellous performances were full of energy, and their chemistry as a group was exceptional. The three actresses brought a unique flavour and a colourful edge to the production, and their performances added a lot of humour and joy to the show. The "Omigod You Guys" sequence was a highlight, and they executed the choreography effortlessly. These three characters were simply superb. Consistently and with absolute joy to watch on stage. Congratulations.  The part of Sinclair was played by Jack Winkless, a scene stealer in every scene he appeared in! The portrayal of Sinclair was both comical and endearing, and Mr Winkless nailed the character's mannerisms and quirks. The energy and enthusiasm brought to the performance were infectious, and I certainly enjoyed every moment Sinclair was on stage. Beau Carley played Aaron Schultz, another standout character in this production. Mr Carley was full of charm and charisma, had a striking and effective stage presence, and was at ease on stage; this was a lovely character, played so very well, and an excellent performance.  Megan McInerney played Enid Hoopes. What a dynamic character who added so much dry humour to the production. Full of energy, sass, and a little eccentricity, she brought a lot of personality to the character. I was so very impressed by the actress's comedic timing and delivery. Overall, the performances of Paulette Bonafonte, Serena, Pilar, Margot, Sinclair, Aaron Schultz, and Enid Hoopes were all very good. Each actor/actress brought a unique style and energy to their performance, contributing to the production's overall success. Their performances were authentic, engaging, and entertaining, and I enjoyed every single second you were on stage. I looked forward to you appearing each time, awaiting the continuation of the treat you gave your audience throughout ALL your performances. Bravo!.  The Chorus Master was Mr Gay Kirwan. Who already made a considerable contribution to the success of this production. The chorus was a standout aspect of the production. Their energy and enthusiasm were palpable, and their vocal harmonies were flawless. Another notable moment was during the song "Whipped into Shape," where the chorus portrayed the fitness class attendees with great energy and enthusiasm. Their vocals added a robust layer to the song, making it one of the production's most memorable musical numbers.  This particular production of “Legally Blonde” really did work, and it was simply a pleasure to be part of what a lovely production I witnessed on the evening of the 17th of April 2024. It was an absolute pleasure and congratulations. I wish you well and continued success because every one of you deserves nothing less. Thank you.  Caroline Daly Jones Adjudicator Sullivan 2023 / 2024 Photos by Roisin McCardle.

The Addams Family as presented by Clane MDS


CLANE MUSICAL AND DRAMATIC  SOCIETY  ADDAMS FAMILY THE ABBEY, MAIN STREET, CLANE CO KILDARE  16TH APRIL 2024 – 20TH APRIL 2024   ADJUDICATION PERFORMANCE  16th April 2024    With high expectations, I entered the historic building, eager to see what this production had in store. The audience's anticipation and the buzz in the air were a testament to the society's reputation and the high quality of their productions. This beautiful building entranced me, called The Abbey, which this Society calls home. The Front of House team's outstanding management skills enabled them to handle the packed houses attracted by the production very easily. They were swift, efficient, and courteous, ensuring that every audience member was seated and ready to enjoy the show in no time at all.  Greeting everyone with a smile to make us all feel welcome and at ease. The team took great pride in their work and genuinely cared about the audience's experience. I was already looking forward to the evening! The Director was Jennifer O’Brien. This young lady is a true visionary, bringing a unique perspective to the show, which is evident in every aspect of the production, from the set design to the costumes. Ms O’Brien’s attention to detail was unparalleled, ensuring that every scene flowed seamlessly into the next, with a remarkable ability to bring out the best in the cast, resulting in beautiful performances. The clear vision for the show was evident in the set design, a visual feast for the eyes. The lighting design was also expertly executed, and the costume work was impressive, with each character's outfit perfectly capturing their personality. Overall, the direction of this show was professional with the characters direction on stage being fabulous. A true sign of hours of individual work with principals especially. Ms O’Brien deserves high praise for her talent in all areas of this lovely production.     The choreographer was Grace McGrath.  A true master of her craft. The choreography was complex and challenging, yet the dancers executed every move precisely and gracefully. Every dance routine, perfectly synchronised and expertly executed. The choreography captivated the audience with the dancers' movements, which was all the more impressive given the small stage and backstage restrictions I saw with my own eyes. This production had very little space on or off stage, plus a jam-packed house. What Ms McGrath created here and what the performers did was remarkable. The dance routines were impressive, “Tango de Amor” and “When You’re an Addams” were superb and flawlessly moved and performed. You are a very talented lady, Ms McGrath. I look forward to seeing more work from you in the future.      The musical director is the lovely, talented Grainne Úi Lúing. A true musical genius. The musical numbers were performed flawlessly, with the cast's singing pitch-perfect and the orchestra playing with precision and skill. Ms Úi Lúing's attention to detail was evident in every aspect of the show, from the harmonies to the overall sound of the production. “One Normal Night” personally was one of my favourites, from the gorgeous accompaniment for Pugsley in his lovely solo “What If” to the tear-jerking “The Moon and Me” sung by Fester and the Female Ancestors. Ms Úi Lúings' guidance and direction resulted in exceptional performances, and as Musical Director, her contribution to the show was invaluable. You deserve high praise for your excellent work in this role.     The Stage Manager was Siobhan Keogh. The Set for this production boasted an exceptional set design that was meticulously planned and executed. The set pieces were intricate and well-designed; every detail was carefully crafted to bring the Addams Family's world to life. The Addams Family mansion, in particular, was a standout piece, with its Gothic architecture and eerie atmosphere perfectly capturing the production's tone and mood. The set's versatility was also impressive, with seamless transitions between scenes. The Set Design team's attention to detail was evident in every scene, creating a flowing and lovely-paced experience for the audience. This society's commitment to excellence was apparent in every aspect of the production, and its dedication to making a visually stunning experience for the audience should be admired.      The lighting design was expertly plotted, and the production's tone and mood were flawless. I loved the cacophony of colours throughout, and the dry ice was as effective. The lighting was used to create a sense of tension and suspense, particularly in the darker scenes, where the use of spotlights and colour changes was masterfully executed, highlighting particular characters and set pieces and enhancing the audience's experience in a mix of colours that lit up not only the stage but the entire hall.  The sound was so excellent. It was loud if I can say that, but not overbearing. I heard every single word of word and song. In the darker scenes, the sound design was used to create a sense of tension and suspense, and the musical numbers were also expertly executed, perfectly complementing the cast's singing.    The costumes in "The Addams Family" were fabulously impressive and perfectly captured each character's personality. The wardrobe team's attention to detail was evident in every outfit, with each piece carefully selected and crafted. The costumes were elaborate and intricate, with some having a Gothic feel while others were more modern. The Addams Family members' outfits, in particular, were striking, with Morticia's iconic black dress and Gomez's pinstripe suit perfectly capturing the characters' essence. The ensemble cast's costumes were also impressive, with such magical attention to detail. I was once amazed at the sheer detail in this area of the production, but I can say that the Costumes, without exception, were simply phenomenal.   Hair and makeup were excellent. Morticia’s long, flowing hair and dramatic makeup perfectly captured her sultry, mysterious persona, while Gomez's slicked-back hair and perfectly groomed moustache added charm to the character. The ensemble cast's hair and makeup were also impressive, as were the wigs and hairstyles of the ancestors.  The props were perfect. The Addams Family mansion's furniture and decor were intricate and well-designed, perfectly capturing the Gothic feel of the output. I loved the wallpaper. The props were versatile, with some pieces serving multiple purposes; the props were also essential in creating a sense of tension and suspense, particularly in the darker scenes; that truth chair was demonic, the candelabra, I could go on, but when this area is done well, with attention to detail, it does make everything more real and believable and catches the attention. Most definitely adding an extra layer of emotion to ANY production.      Art McGauran played the part or, should I say, became the part and lived the part of Gomez  Addams with the most excellent skill, enthusiasm, and side-splitting comedy. From the moment he stepped on stage, Mr McGauran was a tour de force in comedy and acting, and he lit up the stage consistently in every scene with his portrayal of Gomez. Mr McGauran’s suave and debonair personality brought a sense of fun, devilment and a playful sense of humour to the role with fantastic facial expressions, excellent comedic timing and a flawless and energetic performance from his first step on stage to his last.  His chemistry with Morticia Addams was evident in their interactions, and their duet in the song "Tango de Amor" was a particular highlight of the show. Mr McGauran had a beautiful rapport with his children Wednesday and Pugsley. This was an incredible performance as Gomez. Mr McGauran had marvellous, fine, expensive-looking costumes, empathy, and diction. I hung on every word and every song in every scene, with dance acting and vocals, all equally brilliant in equal measure. Mr McGauran, you were a highlight of this show consistently, and it was a joy to be in the audience with you in this role with your many talents. A Tour de Force.     Sinead Byrne played Morticia Addams' part. An excellent actress, she was a standout character. She exuded an air of grace and poise that perfectly captured the character's elegance and sophistication. Her singing was a highlight of the musical numbers, and her portrayal of Morticia's complex emotions added depth to the production She had a gorgeous voice with an icelike expression, and Ms Byrne used her eyes magnificently . This was such a strong lead, and I could feel the friendship between you and the cast at the end of the show when there was a huge hug; genuinely, Ms Addams is a true star in this role, and you played it beautifully Ms Byrne.     Wednesday Addams was played by Bronwyn Goulding,  and Pugsley Addams was played by Paul Nestor. Two outstanding personalities as brother and sister, both very quirky and eccentric while maintaining a sense of believability. Their sibling dynamic felt authentic, and they provided some of the show's most memorable moments. Wednesday Addams's duet with Lucas Beineke in the song "Crazier Than You" was a production highlight. Ms Goulding's gorgeous voice and “Honor Role / “Pulled” showed off your fantastic vocal, which shone.   But it is also here that I must specifically mention Mr Nestor's solo in Act 1, “What If.” Wow, young man, that was one magic moment in time when you stood and sang from your heart, and it was simply beautiful. You have a great stage aura, and you were simply one of the stars of the show in this production.    Aaron Stone played Uncle Fester.  I warmed to Mr Stone immediately, immediately brought a sense of fun to the show, and provided very well-needed comedy given the darkness of everything in the story!  Fester's solo number "The Moon and Me" I cried. Such a magnificent number is still a stand-out element of this production. You looked great. I loved your mannerisms, adorable quirkiness, and innocence, but most of all, I loved what you created in your Fester.  Elaine Moore O’Donohoe played Grandma. Ms Moore O’Donohoe did a fantastic job bringing Grandma's unique mannerisms and quirky personality to life on stage. Her lines were delivered with perfect comedic timing that had the audience laughing out loud, and her portrayal of the character's potion trolley was simply delightful.  Tim Cogavin played the part of Lurch. Played with great skill, brought a sense of stoicism and dry humour to the show, perfectly contrasting the other characters' zaniness. Mr Cogavin had two speeds: slow movement and even slower movement. Whenever he arrived, I wanted to go on stage myself and tell him to hurry up! Lovely voice and a funny character, getting lots of laughs from the audience for all the right reasons. Well done    Rory Chadwick played the part of Mal Beineke. Mal and Alice brought a sense of normality to the production, providing a sense of normality compared to the Addams family's strangeness. In the beginning, Mr Chadwick's business formal suit's light look was gloriously changed. The scene with Alice Beineke was excellent and humorous when he launched himself on stage in the rocker's tee shirt. It brought out the best in this character, and he played the part very well. Bravo.     Edel Marron O’Flaherty played the part of Alice Beineke. Her solo "Waiting" was a real highlight of the show.  It was beautiful how Ms Marron O’Flaherty portrayed the character's transformation from a repressed and uptight suburbanite to a confident and liberated woman. Her solo “Secrets” and “Crazier than You” were powerful. There was such a lovely sense of fun in this lady, and I loved that.  This young lady has many facets of depth in her vocals and as an actress, and I loved you in this role. You were super.   Cian McKeon also played Lucas Beineke. His acting genuinely captured the character's nervousness and innocence, and his comedic timing provided many hilarious moments. His lovely chemistry with Wednesday Addams and his love for her stood out on stage. His singing in "Crazier Than You" was impressive. Overall, it was an excellent performance.  The chorus was a vital part of the production, and they brought a level of energy and enthusiasm that elevated the entire show. Their performances were exceptional and deserve high praise for their hard work and dedication. The choreographer's complex and challenging routines were executed flawlessly, and the dancers' synchronisation was impeccable. The chorus's singing was equally impressive, and their harmonies were pitch-perfect. Their voices blended beautifully, creating a rich and full sound that added depth to the musical numbers.  Overall, the Chorus here elevated the entire show from start to finish. Beautiful.     In conclusion, the Clane Musical Society's "Addams Family" production displayed talent and skill. The principal characters were portrayed with great care and attention to detail, and their performances provided a strong foundation for the rest of the production. The chemistry between the characters was evident on stage, and the musical numbers were performed with great energy, enthusiasm and very simply – brilliance.  Congratulations to all involved in the production, and thank you for your kindness, welcome, and amazing show. It was simply a pleasure, and I wish you every success in your future shows, as I have no doubt Clane Musical Society will be alive and prosper for a very long time to come. Bravo.  Caroline Daly Jones  Adjudicator Sullivan 2023 2024  Photos by: Aisling Conway Byrne @aconwayphotography

The Producers as presented by Leixlip Musical and Variety Group

The Producers as presented by Leixlip Musical and Variety Group: Saturday, 27th April 2024. In the very safe hands and the great...

The Producers as presented by Leixlip Musical and Variety Group: Saturday, 27 th April 2024.   In the very safe hands and the great theatrical mind of Director/Choreographer, Claire Tighe, there was no chance at all of Leixlip presenting a sleepy production of the Mel Brooks masterpiece, The Producers. As expected, it was vibrant, colourful, brimming with outrageous humour, dazzling dance routines and sparkling razzmatazz. She pulled out all the stops to show this creation to its full advantage, with perfect casting, an understanding of the nature of the script and the ability to paint incredible pictures on the stage. She was facilitated by a beautifully designed set that overcame the limited facilities of the stage to give it the look of something much grander. Good use of projections and well-made and beautifully painted scenery managed to create the various settings more than adequately and even rose to some quite stunning set pieces. More relevantly the available stage space was very well used.  Right from the outset, it was evident that Claire’s choreography was going to be a central feature of the production, with a classy opening number, followed up by a vibrant, almost ethnic routine for The King of Broadway, but it was “I Wanna Be A Producer” that set the show on fire with a routine that was as comical as it was glitzy and glamorous. From then on, the flamboyant numbers just kept on coming, with fabulous comedy in “Guten Tag Hop Clop”, “Keep It Gay” and “When You’ve Got It, Flaunt It”, and a blockbuster of a finale to act one with “Along Came Bialy”. Act Two is all about “Springtime For Hitler” and on this piece, Claire presented her very best work. Stylish, comical, precise and a complete feast for the eyes.  If choreography and comedy were the focus on-stage, it was matched by musical excellence from the orchestra pit. Dermot O’Callaghan gave strong leadership to a wonderful orchestra who really seemed to enjoy their music. With a score that is so varied and vivacious, they had plenty of opportunities to display the range of their abilities, with mellow, moody pieces to the let-her-rip big band sounds of the showstoppers. All were accomplished with precision and panache.  As with a previous production of this show, it’s difficult to talk about the strength of Max Bialystock as a comedian without also referencing Leo Bloom, for the two together present a package, as connected in body and soul as Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello. As a duo, their timing and their comedy were flawless, and their personas became one, played with hilarious antics and dynamic stagecraft. Filling these roles were Ian Tighe as Max, selling the schmaltz and the absurd, and Sean McMahon as Leo, brilliantly rising from weak-willed wimp to sizzling star, commanding the stage in all his numbers. Together and apart, they carried every scene with consummate ease and control, feeding off each other and uplifting each other. That they are both vocally adept added considerably to two very outstanding performances.  Not that there was any lack of talent around them, for this was a cast that sparkled with high class comedy. Keeping it very gay were Ross Murray as an excellent Roger Debris and Mark Keegan as an outlandish Carmen Ghia. Ross strutted fabulously in his opening gown and quickly established his ludicrous character, rising to a wonderfully camp Hitler in Springtime  for Hitler. Mark flounced around the stage having tantrums and hissing like a cat in heat, enjoying his camp-ness and creating a very convincing character. Both were engaging and sang very well indeed. “Keep it Gay” was enhanced by the participation of Ben Cole as Bryan, Charlie Owens as Kevin, Jordan Donnelly as Scott, Cillian and Katherine O’Keefe as Shirley.  Fionn O’Dwyer gave a very comical and convincing performance as a formidable Franz Liebkind, delightfully ridiculous in Guten Tag Hop Clop and sustaining his character throughout. “Have You Ever Heard The German Band” was delivered with class and confidence.  Aoife Masterson provided the sexy, sultry, sass of the production, giving heart and soul to her role of Ulla, setting pulses racing with her vocal delivery and her sensual movements. She played the part with a great sense of fun and a super accent.  Judy Miller, as Hold-Me-Touch-Me, created a granny that I imagine most women would like to emulate when they get to that certain age, rampant and unconcerned by respectability, with a deliciously inappropriate display of geriatric gyrations. Alongside her, Stephanie Buchanan as Kiss-Me-Feel-Me, and Katherine O’Keefe as Lick-Me-Bite-Me, were equally unrestrained in their lust, all playing their parts beautifully.  There were good performances, too, from Brian Dalton, as a very capable and tuneful Stormtrooper, and Elaine Brunton and Ciara Brennan as the animated and lyrical Usherettes. Good support was given by David Miller, Enda Roche, Seán Duffy and Cillian Hogan in a myriad of cameo roles.  Oh, and I nearly forgot, Bert Carruthers was brilliant in all his cameo appearances! Resplendent in the execution of the top-notch choreography, the chorus were equally engaging in their acting and participation in all their scenes, displaying, along the way, strong and precise vocal quality.  While it was the excellent dancing-Nazi costumes that impressed me most, the standard of costumes for the rest of the show was very good indeed. The dancer set for “I Wanna Be A Producer” were beautiful, as were the Usherette costumes and the evening wear for the chorus. Principal costumes were all very good and appropriate, and the “prison” outfits were wonderful. There was good attention to hairstyles and wigs and make-up was always appropriate. The lighting plot for the show was thorough and atmospheric, creating good colourful pictures, some sparkling effects and nice isolations for the more intimate scenes. Cueing was very good, as was also the case with the radio mics, in a sound system that served the show extremely well.  My sincere thanks to everyone involved for giving such a wonderful presentation of a fabulous comedy. Wishing you all continued success in the future. Peter Kennedy Gilbert Adjudicator 23/24 Photographer: Ciaran Austin


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