Reeling in the Streams: Irish Born Musical Theatre

What better way to distract lift spirits than some jazz hands, a tap number and of course, confetti canons. Recent years have seen some amazing work coming from Irish creators and I thought it was about time we celebrated that.
“Stop Sign” by thecrazyfilmgirl is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

As I settled in to scan through previous episodes of Stage Door Live and decide which one to rewatch and talk about this week, only one episode was capable of pulling me out of the dark pit of anxiety I currently inhabit: Episode 15 – Irish Born Musical Theatre.

What better way to distract lift spirits than some jazz hands, a tap number and of course, confetti canons. (There were no confetti canons in the episode. Kevin put his foot down.) As Stage Door Live’s resident Musical Theatre obsessive, I was the lead producer on this episode and I was determined to shine a light on what is a very exciting emerging Irish Musical Theatre scene. Recent years have seen some amazing work coming from Irish creators and I thought it was about time we celebrated that. Naturally, it was a MONSTER episode, and I understand if you may not want to watch it all in one go, so allow me to summarise my highlights for your convenience.

Featured in this episode are: (takes a big breath)  Kate Gilmore, Tom Moran, Bryan Burroughs, Fiona Browne and Brian Gilligan, a stunning performance by Amy O’Dwyer, a special feature with Benedict Esdale and William Dunleavy and pre-recorded interviews with the immeasurably talented Conor Mitchell and Mr Showbiz himself, Simon Delaney. Phew, I told you it was a bumper episode!

Simon Delaney

I’m going to start with one of my favourite people of all time: Simon Delaney. There is very little that Simon has not done or seen in the industry. He has such a wealth of knowledge and experience, and he is truly, one of the nicest, most genuine men around. I have had the good fortune of working with Simon on the Olympia Panto for the last number of years so I can attest to the truth of that statement. I have seen first hand how he not only brings skill, talent and genius to the table, but also how he encourages everyone and looks after everyone – from the youngest cast members, to the stage management team, to the crew – he has time for everyone. He also brings a sense of mischief and divilment which never fails to have everyone in stitches and is absolutely necessary in panto, lest we begin to take ourselves too seriously. In his interview with Kelly, he talks about his own experiences in the industry, his thoughts on Musical Theatre in Ireland and he offers up a wee bit of advice as well. It is worth mentioning that in recording this interview, some gremlins got into the system and it crashed about four times! Needless to say, we were mortified, but being the man he is, he bore it all with effortless grace and had us in absolute stitches throughout! If you’re feeling down at all, do check it out. It’s a soothing balm in these troubled days.

You can find the edited interview at 33:31 in the main show, but I highly recommend you check out the full interview here. I promise you wont regret it!

The next interview I’d like to bring your attention to is our Hot Topic of the episode: Making Irish Musicals. We invited actor/writer Kate Gilmore, who appeared in Rough Magic’s ‘The Train’ at The Abbey Theatre and ‘The Great Gatsby’ at the Gate and Tom Moran, an actor, writer and performer who appeared in the runaway smash hit, ‘Copper Face Jack’s: The Musical’ to talk about their experiences in some of the most successful musicals to be made here in recent years. We were keen to get their perspective on their own individuals journeys into musicals, and how attitudes to musicals here are changing or evolving, and where they see the industry going. They did not disappoint. The discussion proved to be engaging, enlightening and gave me so hope for the future of musicals in Ireland. The interview starts at 17:24.

Brian Gilligan

This episode also featured our youngest ever guest in the form of Oscar Gilligan who joined his Dad, the musical megastar, Brian Gilligan! Aside from being utterly adorable, baby Oscar was very happy to share the limelight, for a few minutes at least, with Brian. He spoke to us all about his journey to the West End, and the realities of forging a career in the Musical Theatre industry here and in the UK. It was great to have such an open and honest conversation about it with someone in the thick of it and he had some great advice too. Brian Gilligan is one of our brightest stars of Musical Theatre and it is well worth checking this out to hear what he has to say. The interview starts at 1:40:16.

I would also highly recommend you all tune in at 1:05:01 to listen to Bryan Burroughs and Fiona Browne tell us all about Angela’s Ashes The Musical. It is one of the most successful new Musicals to be made in Ireland and it was so encouraging to hear from two performers who didn’t come from a Musical Theatre background and their experiences of taking the show from Limerick all the way to the Bord Gáis.

We finished the show on the most perfect note, or notes to be more accurate. How else could we end a show about Musical Theatre but with a stunning musical performance? Amy O’Dwyer brought us a breathtaking rendition of Out of My Head by Kooman & Dimmond as our Final Poetic Thought. I have nothing more to say, her performance speaks for itself.

Also featured in this episode you can hear all about an exciting new musical adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons by Benedict Esdale and William Dunleavy which you can check out here and if you’re interested in how musicals are written, I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the incomparable Theatre & Opera Composer Conor Mitchell. We had such a brilliant chat that poor Kevin had an awful time trying to edit it down for the live show (it starts at 1:21:30) but I strongly suggest you check out the full interview which you can find here.

I did warn you all it was a bumper episode…I just couldn’t help myself. Musicals were my first introduction to the theatre world at the tender age of 3 when my Dad played the Rabbi in the local musical society’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. I followed him to every show rehearsal for years afterwards, eventually taking to the stage with him in Hello Dolly when I was about 11. To this day I know every word of Oklahoma even though I wasn’t actually in the cast. Musicals make you happy, they make you sad, the music and the dancing and yes, the confetti cannons (when you can get away with it) transport us to another world and whether they’re big like Les Miserables or small like Rent they’re just a little bit magic and I will never not love them.

Do you have a favourite episode, interview or moment from Stage Door Live? Let me know, and I will feature it on Reeling in the Streams.

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