There was a time when Waterford seemed to be the home of all that was best and innovative in musical theatre, an inheritance from a long tradition of the International Light Opera Festival, no doubt. Flaggy Lane, twice winners of that festival, set the tone and it is sad to think we may never see this festival’s fiftieth year or future festivals, even though the AIMS Showtimes says there will be one in February 2010.

The spirit of innovation and ground-breaking work has moved to the West (no doubt, Awake in so many ways) with the announcement that the impressive Ballinrobe Musical Society are to stage the world amateur premiere of The Pirate Queen, with music by Alan Boublil and Claude Michael Shonberg, who penned Liss Saigon and Les Miserables.

The story is about Mayo’s own Granuaile (Grace O’Malley), the Pirate Queen, a pirate sea captain back in 1576.

The show is the brainchild of Riverdance creators, John McColgan and Moya Doherty and they lost a wedge of money when the show opened to mixed response in Chicago and then got a critical mauling on Broadway and sank with few survivors.

Ballinrobe are an ambitious and innovative company and I saw their wonderful production of Titanic – The Musical some years ago and reviewed it for this newspaper. They transformed a big school hall into an amazing performance area with a shipload of luggage and a very large cast of committed singers and actors. Their stock is high and this Pirate Queen I already attracting a big media buzz.

The show will run from 11 Feb to 20 February and it is expected that McColgan, Doherty and one or both of the composers, will attend the event. Now that’s what I call showbusiness. Already people are not just trying to book tickets but have already booked accommodation in the area.

Peter Kennedy will direct and choreograph this historic Mayo production.