The Musical Director is a vital cog in the wheel of any successful production. In fact, the ‘MD’ is a lot more than that.
They must possess an abundance of patience, unstinting enthusiasm for the production in hand and provide reassurance for onstage performers anxious to get their singing cue spot on.
Anyone that’s been up there on the boards, sneaking the peekiest of looks towards the pit in the direction of the baton wielder, will know exactly what’s being referred to here.
Fergal Carroll possesses such qualities by the bucketload, and his orchestrating skills justly earned him the ‘Spirit of AIMS’ award at the annual ceremony held at Killarney’s INEC last weekend.
Clonmel-born Fergal was commissioned into the Defence Forces in September 2005 and is based in Cathal Brugha Barracks in Rathmines. He is currently staff conductor at the Defence Forces School of Music in Dublin and holds the rank of Lieutenant.
Any Gilbert and Sullivan aficionado will reliably inform one that the work Fergal undertook alongside director Liam Butler for Carrick Musical Society’s ‘Mikado With a Swing’ was as considerable as it was impressive.
As Liam wrote in the show’s programme: “I approached Danny Carroll about re-arranging music. He said ‘why not?’, and we started to hatch a plan! It was Danny’s idea to arrange the music in the Swing style, and he then asked Fergal to come onboard to help.
Fergal, Liam Butler added, “took the music of WS Gilbert by the scruff of the neck” and the end product was an “incredible arrangement” of classic musical theatre tunes.
“Fergal had the idea of putting the band onstage and the rest just happened out of workshop rehearsals.”
In retrospect, putting the band onstage was a great idea and emphasised the importance of the MD and band’s role in making a show a success.
It also underlined the link between performers and musicians and gave Fergal and his band a chance to interact with the cast, which was enormously entertaining.
Fergal took over from his father Danny as the society’s Musical Director for the 2002 production of ‘Pirates of Penzance’ and has also worked with societies in Clonmel, Thurles and Kilkenny.
He also gained an AIMS nomination for his work on the society’s brilliant 2006 production of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’.
Carrick Musical Society was well-represented in Killarney, with Irene Malone (Best Comedienne), Liam Butler (Best Actor), Fergus Power (Best Supporting Actor) and Brendan Mulvaney (Unsung Hero) featuring among the award nominees. ‘Mikado With a Swing’ also featured in the Best Overall Show in Ireland category.
Meanwhile, visitors to the Strand Theatre for last weekend’s Clancy Brothers Festival were fulsome in their praise for the décor and facilities now available at the revamped venue.
The Strand plays host to Mala Raggett’s Rising Stars’ production of ‘Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ next weekend. Tickets are priced at €12 and can be booked at the Strand Theatre Box Office on 051 645050.