Oh What A Show!

The lights have dimmed, the music has faded and the curtain  has been drawn for the last time on Carrick-on-Suir Musical Society’s production of ‘Evita’.

The eight-night run, which concluded on Saturday last, proved an absolute blast from start to finish, and I was proud to be part of a 60-strong cast in such a well-supported and well-received show. Incredibly proud.

From theatrical newcomers to society stalwarts, the Liam Butler-directed show was packed with dedicated, hard-working performers, from board treading newcomers to seasoned society stalwarts.

And it takes the efforts of each and every one of those actors and actresses to make a production a successful one.

Shows are not all about the principal players, nor should they ever be. It’s about a group of people coming together for at least three nights a week for three months of the year, learning lyrics, harmonies, melodies and dances, and learning them bloody well.

Were nerves frayed on a few of those nights? Of course they were. You can’t spend that much time together, conscious of a deadline that has to be met without the odd flushed face or furrowed brow.

But, by and large, as has been the case in any of the productions I’ve ever been involved in, be it with Carrick or Portlaw’s Musical Societies, Brewery Lane Theatre Group or Bowler Hat Theatre Company, the mood was good at rehearsals and the craic was mighty!

Acting ought to be fun, just like playing for your local sporting outfit. But it can’t be fun without practice, without setting time aside, pretty much every day for a few months at a time, and setting your mind to doing the best possible job you can do.

I’ll confess, I’m not the greatest ‘auditioner’ in the world, not by any means, and I suspect it’s something I need to work on if I’m ever to play some truly meaty stage parts, be they sung, spoken or both.

But in saying that, the benefit of age (I’ll be 35 in June) and having performed in two musicals and two plays in the last 12 months alone has certainly sanded off a few of those rough thespian edges of mine.

But I’ve a good deal to learn yet. Acting, a little like writing, is something one constantly has to work on in order to be nothing more than competent.

If someone compliments you on a performance, if someone praises what you do in any walk of life for that matter, then that’s both wonderful and humbling.

But you’ll never find me as an actor or in any guise of life for that matter, egomaniacally informing you that I’m good at something. That’s for others to deduce.

Have I read all the reviews of the various productions I’ve been part of? Yes I have – let’s face it, they’d be difficult to avoid given my day job, and many thanks to our own Arts Critic Liam Murphy for his kind appraisal of our efforts in this very edition.

Would it bother me to get a ‘bum’ review so to speak? I’d be lying if I stated it wouldn’t impact somewhat, but just like the feedback this newspaper receives from readers, be it positive or negative, it’s still welcome. After all, you can’t live in a bubble, where everyone and everything thinks you’re the bee’s knees. That’s simply not reality.

As for the prospect of ‘Evita’ receiving nominations for the annual Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS) awards – hand on heart, it won’t concern me one way or the other if the show is considered or not come the ceremony in mid-June.

Don’t get me wrong, an award nomination or two for the show would be welcome, but that’s not the motivation for putting on a good performance every March in the Strand, nor should it ever be.

Carrick-on-Suir’s population, last verified in the 2011 Census, stands at 5,916. During the show’s eight night run, almost 3,000 people filed into the Dick Meany Auditorium to see the fruits of our theatrical labour.

The support which the Society continues to receive from the Carrick public and its businesses remains fantastic, a support base that’s been built, enhanced and sustained over 70 eventful and entertaining years.

Without an audience, each and every one of them an adjudicator and critic in their own right, we’ve got no show, so thanks to everyone who decided a night in our company was one worth investing in.

And the same thanks must be extended to those living in the Carrick hinterland, be it Portlaw, Mooncoin, Piltown, Fiddown, Kilsheelan etc, as well as fellow Musical Societies who travelled in such great numbers last week. Thank you, thank you all!

Personally, playing Juan Peron was my most satisfying stage role yet. Indeed, ‘Evita’ proved my most rewarding stage experience thus far – and, fingers crossed, there’ll be lots more fun to be had on many stages across the region.

In the last year alone, I’ve been a Puerto Rican gang leader (’West Side Story’), a crazed Welsh murderer (’Night Must Fall’), a dreamer from the American Deep South (’The Glass Menagerie’) and, finally, the Colonel who rose to be Argentine President.

Has it been hard work? Of course. But then anything ever worth doing needs working on.

And when you’re surrounded by great people, my second family, then that’s the sort of work I can’t ever imagine growing weary of. Oh What A Show indeed!

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