From Clonmacken, Limerick, I attended Gaelscoil Sáirséal, followed by Ardscoil Rís.
Next, I attended Mary Immaculate College (MIC), completing their Bachelor of Education Degree (2008). Since then, I have been working in Gaelscoil an Ráithín, as a primary school teacher and completed a Masters of Education Degree in Information and Communication Technology recently. Growing-up, I looked-up to my grandfather, Joe McGovern. Joe was a former publican in ’The Punch Bowl’ on John’s Street, and he knew how to entertain an audience. Although, he never performed onstage, he was always the life and soul of the party during a singsong. Subsequently, I learned to play the guitar and began to sing.
It was during my time at MIC that I first encountered musical theatre, having stumbled upon their wonderful Dramatic Arts Society (MIDAS).
Indeed, I played the part of ‘Tony Forte’ in ‘Copacabana’ and ‘Johnny Casino’ in ‘Grease’. Following graduation, I became involved with the Cecilian Musical Society and have been in numerous productions since (both onstage and off). Having joined their committee initially I was subsequently, appointed chairperson for the next two years. It is an honour, but also a huge responsibility, being involved in a historic society that has being entertaining Limerick audiences since 1919. Currently we are in the process of drawing-up plans to mark our centenary, in 2019, so these are exciting times.
There is nothing quite like the feeling you get from performing to a live audience, and it is something that is impossible to replicate.
Undervalued in society, the Arts are frequently underutilised as a tool for building self-esteem, confidence, and positive relationships. In fact, the Cecilians are really more like an extended family, with many of our members successfully meeting their partners here. With uncertainties in the arts concerning funding, organising fundraisers, as well as ensuring successful shows, are vital to safeguarding this continued longevity. In this, we are blessed by having such a strong committee, while an enthusiastic and talented cast, are happy to commit to a three-month rehearsal period (and beyond!). Finally, we are indebted to a very loyal audience who religiously attend our shows.
Confidence is hugely important to performing but it took me some time to develop this with regard to acting.
Often, having forced myself into auditions I would turn bright red and have to stand on one leg to stop it from shaking. My big break came when the Cecilians staged ‘West Side Story’ and I played the part of Pepe. I only had one line in the whole show, but knowing that someone trusted me with one line allowed me to grow in confidence. The next year, I was onstage for a whole scene. This was huge for me, and I haven’t looked back since. It, also, informed my practice as a teacher, having witnessed the positive effects that theatre and drama could have on the individual.
Selfless, underappreciated people, who don’t seek plaudits, inspire me.
With regard to the theatre, they are the ones who frequently work backstage, sew costumes, and sell programmes. In recent years, the Cecilians have become involved with numerous charitable organisations, such as Milford Hospice and The Neonatal Unit for whom we raised funds. Indeed, this year, we have begun an initiative with ADAPT’s Domestic Abuse Services. In fact, we will be giving tickets to two families, plus a complimentary taxi fare to and from the theatre, for our next production.
‘All Shook Up’ is a wonderful musical comedy based on Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, (beautifully woven together with arrangements of Elvis Presley’s music).
We are thrilled, in this, to have one of the strongest front lines in years including; Kate Hurley, Gary Keane, Tim Moloney, Áine Hogan and Hilary Burke. The production team have been busy drilling our cast in singing, acting, and dancing, since late August. I play the part of Dennis, the socially awkward Éponine of the piece. It is a tremendously fun part to play and unlike any character, I have played before.
Choosing a show is one of the most difficult decisions for the society each year.
With so many moving parts, and variables it is often a gamble no matter how safe you believe you are playing it. From licensing, to theatre rental, insurance, production teams, musicians, printing and advertising. With so many outgoings, it is important that you pick a show that will appeal to performers and audiences alike. From there, it is vital to assemble a strong cast, via a rigorous audition process, to perform to the highest standards expected by a Limerick audience.
Although the arts would benefit from more support, I believe that we are currently in a very strong position.
Limerick Musical Society, College Players, and Torch Players, to name but a few, produce work of an exceptionally high standard, and exceptional variety. I have great respect for anyone wishing to pursue a career in theatre.
However, it takes a huge amount of courage, talent, and hard graft. Crucially, you also need to be fortunate and to get the breaks.
Being able to sing and to act the part, is only one element of it. In the end, you may be too tall, too short, or have the wrong hair colour for a given part. This is where societies like ours come into play. Some of the performers that we have would not be out of place in the West End. In fact, some past members have actually graced these very stages!
The musical ‘All Shook Up’ will run at Lime Tree Theatre from November 23 – 26 inclusive at 8pm. For more information, please see: www. limetreetheatre.ie or call the box office on 061-953400. Information on the society is available at: www.cecilianmusicalsociety.com and Facebook: www.facebook.com/CeciliansLimerick/