THE lure of the stage is stronger than ever, the Newcastle West Musical Society has discovered. And the proof lies in this year’s search for the leads for their upcoming musical Oliver!
More than 35 children auditioned for the main parts of Oliver and the Artful Dodger, reveals Susan Browne, who is choral director as well as co-director of the show with Tom Madigan.
And, after a series of call-backs, they have ended up with two of each.
On alternate nights the role of Oliver will be played by Rian Lynch and Keelan Fahy while the Dodger will be played by Alanna Slater and Diarmuid Curtin.
“They were so strong and we didn’t want to discriminate,” Susan says.
But some 50 other children and young people are part of the huge cast, the musical society has brought together.
“I think the sooner they are on the stage, the more confident they are,” Susan adds. “We are really trying to encourage more and more young people.”
But the annual musical, now embedded in the West Limerick social and cultural calendar, has also proved to be a great showcase for adult talent. And this year, the key role of Fagin will be played by Tom Madigan, Susan Browne will play Nancy while Paul Keyes is Bill Sykes.
The hard work of putting it all together began last August, starting with one night a week for the chorus and one night for the principals. But now, in the run-in to opening night, rehearsals are three nights a week.
And anticipation is growing in advance of the show’s six-night run.
“There seems to be a lot of excitement,” Susan says. “All the songs are really well known. It is a very lively and colourful show and there is a lot of room for choreography.”
A new element in this year’s show is the advent of Michael Young from Limerick as musical director who brings a young, very progressive vibe to the band, Susan adds. And with all local musicians involved, this too is another important showcase.
“It is hard going. It is tough but it is an eight or nine week stint,” Susan continues. “I have been in a lot of musical societies but this one is different. It has no cliques. Everybody is welcome in.”
There is also, she adds, a great social life.
“It is like a little family really. Everybody is voluntary. Everybody knows you are giving your best and it is appreciated.”
The show opens next Thursday, October 29 in the Halla Nua in Castlemahon and continues on October 30. There will be a matinee performance on Sunday, November 1 with further night performances on November 5, 6 and 7. Tickets cost €15 and €5 for children.