After several weeks of intensive rehearsals at a host of city locations, the time finally came to put on make-up and work the lights at Garter Lane last Wednesday night.
For four performances, I formed a quarter of the onstage team which, thankfully, provided laughs aplenty for audiences who put bums on seats to take in ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’.
Not exactly a title that rolls off the tongue, nor one suitable for acronym assembly, the show itself went down riotously well with those who came to see what it was all about.
For this particular performer, this production marked a departure: the first time I’d taken to the stage in something which was neither Portlaw nor Carrick-on-Suir based.
To those not used to seeing me in an array of tassled, shoulder-padded panto garb, I was a new face. “How come we haven’t seen you in anything before” was a question that winged its way to me more than once in recent days. This was also the first time I’d taken to the Garter Lane stage, quite ironic considering it’s literally a matter of yards from where these very lines are composed every week.
Now, prancing across the stage in front of 170-odd adults while donning a jockstrap mightn’t be everybody’s cup of tea. Perhaps I should explain.
To those who didn’t see the show, it’s worth pointing out that I wore the jockstrap over a pair of trousers, so please put down your phone and don’t be bothering the Press Council.
There have been some curious costumes I’ve had to sport over the years, all in the name of my art.
There was a golden skirt and boxer short ensemble when I ruled Egypt during ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ – back when I had a stomach I didn’t mind showing off!
And then of course there was an infamous moment in ‘Sweet Charity’ when, while playing the part of a sophisticated Italian crooner, I left my bed sporting a pair of white socks. Classy or what?
I could go on. There was a sketch back in my Scór days which had me in women’s clothing as a narky mother-in-law – a photo of which, unfortunately for me, ended up on the notice board of Carrick CBS.
Thankfully, the role didn’t demand the wearing of heels, though something tells me I wouldn’t have been as uncomfortable in those shoes as I was among my classmates that infamous morning 15 years ago.
Acting has always been a bit of a curiosity for me. I’ve rarely felt like an actor, and despite appearing in productions on a regular basis for over half of my life at this stage, I still sometimes feel like a rabbit caught in headlighted glare.
During my board treading times, I’ve been shot, crucified, had my neck broken, married more often than Liz Taylor, voiced a man-eating plant, worn a Cork hurling kit and journeyed on adventures with an array of animals. It’s been a varied palate to say the least.
But through all of these, I’ve had a wonderful time, made some fantastic friendships and picked up a few tools of the acting/singing/acting the eejit trade along the way.
And now I can proudly add Garter Lane to the list of venues I’ve acted at, which includes Portlaw’s Premier Hall, Carrick’s Strand, the Watergate (Kilkenny), the Excel (Tipperary), the much-missed Regal (Clonmel) and the Gleneagle in Killarney.
To hear audiences laugh and clap the way they did for four nights last week made all the rehearsals of these past few weeks enormously worthwhile. I’m sure I’ll do it again some time!
* Many, many thanks to director Andrew Holden, musical director Damien O’Brien and colleagues Tobie Hickey, Vicki Graham and Gabrielle Cummins for their encouragement, enthusiasm and good humour these past few weeks.