The David Hennessy Musical & Dramatic Society presented The Full Monty, The Stage Musical at the Theatre Royal to noisy and appreciative applause. It is a difficult show for actor/performers requiring almost total nudity, slick timing and chutzpah. The six ‘strippers’ rose to the occasion, encouraged by screaming fans, and an unscheduled costume mishap that added to the thrill and rush of live theatre.
The success of this production was enhanced by the direction of David Hennessy who engaged a top-rate cast who covered most bases, giving the show its dramatic impact, and they revelled in the exposure it brought them.
The long first act is not the greatest, musical theatre exposition, but it allows the cast to establish the way some out-of-work Buffalo steelworkers coped with depression and unemployment. Their introductory number ‘Scrap’ exposed their macho side and uncertainty about their masculinity. This was counterpointed by a strong group of women who rocked with ‘It’s A Woman’s World’.
The decision of the men to stage a Chippendale style event provided the physical and emotional thrust of the show, Jamie Murphy, as Jerry, was the prime-mover coping with a broken marriage and sharing responsibility for a teenage son.
His work set the bar for the reality of the show, and the audience enjoyed his surges of enthusiasm and dejection.
Ciara Larkin excelled as his estranged wife, and Trevor Prendergast was solid as her new partner, and Adam Caulfield impressed as the teenage son.
Dennis Murphy excelled as Dave, who had doubts and fears, and he showed vulnerability and resilience so well.
Megan DeCourcey delivered an understated but strong performance as his wife.
Fionnan Dunphy has developed into a sensitive and detailed actor who can mix comedy and pathos so well, and his Harold was memorable as was Caroline Stone ash is exuberant wife, Vicki. Her believability added to the impact of this production.
Danny Brockie was an excellent Malcolm, a suicidal loner, and his interaction with Paul Kavanagh as the ‘cartoonish’ Ethan was a high-point in a sensitive sequence in the show. Clinton Cunnage was ‘Horse’, and his ‘Big Black Man’ number rocked and we saw his humanity rather than a caricature.
Karen Steenson was outstanding as the rehearsal pianist, Jeanette, who remembered past showbiz glories. Her ‘Showbiz Number’ was everything you could expect from musical theatre, and Karen soared and endeared.
Other parts were played so well by Dee Lanigan, Adam O’Neill, Sarah Power, Trish Orpen, Christine Hennessy, Paul Greene, Olga Greene, Damien Walsh, Katie Duggan, Shauna Hennessy, Jessica Hayes, Rachael Cody, Vicky Sheridan, Tracy Barron, Adrian Dower and Shane Taheny.
Jamie Roche Everyevent designed the impressive set.
Mother Knows Best (Mooncoin Parish Hall)
Moondharrig Players packed out the Mooncoin Parish Hall for another hilarious Jimmy Keary comedy – Mother Knows Best. Keary is rapidly becoming the playwright to go to with a string of sure-fire comedy three-acts, and neither he nor Moondharrig disappointed.
The Mother in question, Tess McDermott, was the snobbish, bullying, matriarch who cared more for a shitzu dog than she did for her henpecked and browbeaten, husband (Harry), and teacher daughter (Suzy). Mother has decided that Suzy should marry the social-climbing and oleaginous, Adrian, who is a buffoon to the ‘manor’ born.
Bernie Cullinane excelled as Mother, and her performance was exasperating, large-than-life, and caught the many facets of a basically unsympathetic character. Tom Grant was splendid as Harry, and he has a great range in bewilderment, asides and throwaway lines, and the audience loved his discomfort and anything for an easy life.
The painters were in to add a further touch of snobbery, and they seemed a lazy (make a cup of tay) duo. But there was more than an undercoat and rag-roll to Seamus Kearns as Nick, the owner/decorator, who was a revelation.
He had to cope with his nosey mother and her gormless friend. He polished up his fascia and rekindled love for Suzy the teacher. Esther Delahunty was wonderful as the teacher emerging from under her mother’s thumb and showing a sparky, romantic nature. Stephen Kearns played the workshy assistant painter who had debts and a light-fingered way with other people’s property.
Ronan Walsh was an over-the-top, unctuous suitor, Adrian, and Mandy Culleton was a tonic as the attractive widow/temptress who would teach Harry how to improve his swing and virility. Jessika Weismantel Hahessy was such fun as the jilted Dianh Dolan, and she lit up the stage with fine comic acting.
The creme de la creme was the comedy antics of Breda Walsh as Nick’s nosey mother, and Aine Kearns as her gormless sidekick in long coat, handbag and beret of the bewildered.
Liam Hoban directed, and Pat Dalton was attentive and welcoming, as well as designing the lighting.
Death Row Pardon (Vintage Parlour)
Clodagh Power and The Vintage Parlour are running a monthly one-act play at lunchtime in the intimate surroundings of their inner bar area. The inaugural production was a two-hander, Death Row Pardon by the locally, prolific writer Derek Flynn. This was described by the organisers, as bare-bones, bare boards, theatre, and only had a table and two chairs setting. The author played a condemned man on Death Row meeting his angry and abandoned daughter, Tara, to set the record straight, and seek some sort of redemption.
As the strains of Sinead O’Connor singing ‘The Parting Glass’ faded you could feel the tension between father and daughter. Tara was played so emotionally true by Abi McCormick who had a cinematic stillness that was uncanny. She tells him straight ” do not try to guilt me” and the cutting “there never was a you and me”. She was impassive to entreaties, and explanations of a terrible childhood. Why would she want to ‘walk a mile in his shoes’.
A turning point in a murder was verbally re-enacted with a soundscape of a mawkish ‘The Wanderer’ (indicating a lack of director).
The play ended on a silent plea and he extended his hand for goodbye or forgiveness to the sound of ‘The Parting Glass’.
At the entrance to the performance area, I noticed a series of beautiful miniature paintings in varying shades of pink and darker tones by Ruth Flynn, who has a studio in GOMA. This was an exploration of childhood memories and dreams. They stopped me in my tracks with the haunting mixture of innocence and experience. The lights tones, bright images, and darker pools of possible loss like faded photographs.
Some images were scarred and had cuts across them. Hope and confusion, pictures from the past. Very evocative in the living art gallery that is the Vintage Parlour. Art, theatre, culture, good company, a refuge and fine food served with style, and that creative serendipity of surprise and wonderment.
Stephanie Louise Furlong (Art Exhibition at Finders Keepers)
Art is where you find it, and last year Stephanie Louise Furlong had a fascinating exhibition of animal paintings in their natural habitat in the window of Finders Keepers. You will find this emporium in Little Patrick St near the carpark behind Supermac’s where you can get unusual presents. The owners have an uncanny eye for the beautiful, the eye-catching, and the stuff of dreams and expectations at affordable prices.
Furlong’s current exhibition there is called, Croi na hEireann (which I would interpret as from the heartland of Ireland). Her work is arranged on easels in the window. Some studies in pastel shades are captivating from the woodland of Crough where water flows, and nature seems at peace and harmony. A fox sits beneath a moon, a squirrel contemplates the surroundings, and a robin reaches into your heart.
I loved the painting of the delicate Cosmos plant with a Common Blue butterfly hovering. Her darker studies have a magnificence on dark blue backgrounds flecked with paler shades where a beautiful swan swims under the arc of the moon, and its reflection is such a treat for the heart. This contrasts well with a pale Barn Owl against a darkening sky or a badger among foxgloves.
Inside in Finders Keepers, I discovered the wall tile art of Alanna Plekkenpol who creates images in a traditional Dutch Delft Blue style. I also discovered Yohan, an artist who produces prints of faces of traditional musicians, especially studies of Luke Kelly. Yohan is the art name of Ciaran ‘Yohan’ Brennan, a New Ross-born artist, based in Galway. His paintings featuring New Ross are wonderful.