Bill Stafford’s brilliant success in winning an AIMS Best Director award, was one of only two local highlights at the recent AIMS Awards in Killarney. Waterford-born Bill won for his effective direction of New Ross Musical Society’s production of Some Like It Hot, reviewed in this paper earlier this year.
Bill began his theatrical career in the famous De La Salle College shows and he was encouraged and inspired by Br Ben Hanlon. He worked with Bryan Flynn in shows and Tops in the nineties. In 2000 he was invited to play Lun Tha in The King And I with New Ross, directed by Tony Finnegan and this led to meeting his now wife, Anne-Marie Cooney and his eventual move to live in that area.
I understand he is the first New Ross director to win such an award and it is fair to say that Anne-Marie and Bill have changed the face of musical theatre in New Ross, with a series of shows, a theatre and dance school and lots of guest appearances in the region.
During the AIMS Choral Festival a musical theatre stalwart told me that New Ross had taken Bill to its heart and that I should consider him a New Ross man now.
All I could say in my defence was that I was in panto in the Royal with Bill.
Bill Stafford is ambitious and that ambition won him an award that he thought would never be his. He also harbours an ambition to direct a show in Waterford and who knows but that could be on the cards sooner now than later.
From the same show, Some Like It Hot, another performer, well-known to Waterford musical theatre fans, Derek Shannon got the Best Comedian award for his Jerry/Daphne role in that production.