It was with great anticipation that I took to my seat in the Strand Theatre on Wednesday evening last for Carrick-on-Suir Musical Society’s take on ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. Unsurprisingly, I was not disappointed by their latest board treading efforts.
The consistent high standards which the Society has maintained down through the years have singled it out as one of the best such amateur groups in the country.
Be it production values, the quality of performances, set design, technical considerations, the quality of programme, etc, ‘Fiddler’ ticked all boxes.
This was, by any theatrical standard, a great night’s entertainment in what was the Society’s 89th production since 1944.
That I’ve been lucky enough to participate in several pantomimes, musicals and concerts over the years in Carrick has provided me with many nights of laughter, entertainment and song.
That this positively colours my view on the Society cannot be disputed, but it’s a bias I have never attempted to conceal – nor shall I do so here!
Carrick-on-Suir is where I received my secondary school education. It’s where I’ve made many of my life’s longest standing friendships and it’s where, when time and fitness so dictates, I play my rugby, albeit to dubious standards!
There is a fantastic community ethos in the town, something which isn’t highlighted regularly enough in some quarters.
Sadly, when it comes to how Carrick is perceived by the outside world, people not readily familiar with it and its environs tend to dwell on the negative.
Any town which houses a district court suffers the same fate: it acts as a negativity magnet, drawing all the ills of an area into one location, greatly distorting the reality of daily life on the ground.
As a newspaper, we are, by the conventions of the trade, duly obliged to report on the court’s activities. It goes with the territory but unavoidably feeds into the notion that Carrick is a town full of troublemakers and lawbreakers.
In truth, Carrick-on-Suir is no better or worse than anywhere else in these respects and that was a point I stressed to Ryan Tubridy when he brought his Radio One programme to town 18 months ago.
To his credit, the RTE presenter has maintained several links with many of those he met in Carrick during his broadcast, extending a long-standing affinity he has had for the south east.
In recent years, Carrick United AFC have blazed a magnificent trail thanks to their league and cup exploits and proven a tremendously powerful, positive force for the area.
The club, based in Coolnamuck, have brought great honour to the town and augmented Carrick’s long-standing sporting reputation.
That reputation may yet be further improved by Carrick’s rugby club, which stands on the brink of a long-awaited promotion to the Second Division of the Munster Junior League.
But, for me, when it comes to an all-encompassing local community body, nothing encapsulates a greater positive force in the area than Carrick’s Musical Society.
A successful production requires the skills of craftsmen, technicians, musicians, salespeople, singers, actors, dancers and financial supporters.
The centre-spread of the ‘Fiddler’ programme alone features 75 names, which gives you some idea of what it takes to put together a production of this quality.
And be it Irene Malone doing what she does so brilliantly year in, year out or 82-year-old Noel Treacy doing his thing in the chorus, every cog is as valued when it comes to keeping the Carrick musical wheel moving.
The Society may well have a €440,000 debt to clear due to the outstanding work undertaken to make the Strand Theatre the magnificent venue it now is, but, in time, that debt will be cleared.
As long as talents drawn from South Tipp, South Kilkenny and County Waterford keep coming together to such brilliant effect in Carrick, the people of the area will continue to support their wonderful efforts.
So on with the show, Carrick-on-Suir Musical Society. And long may you reign!