THE set is painted, the props are gathered and costumes have been fitted. As opening night of Oklahoma draws nearer, one of the Guilds long time members, Michael Donegan reflects on the good fortune and privilege of being involved in various stage productions as both an actor and a producer/director.
“For the past two years I have had the privilege of directing two large scale productions for Birr Stage Guild, The Likes of Us in 2009 and The Wiremen in 2010. This year I am on stage playing the part of Andrew Carnes in Oklahoma.
“The great thing about the amateur theatre movement in Ireland is that it offers wonderful opportunities to anyone who wishes to try their hand. I started out content to act but over the years have switched between acting and directing as the opportunities presented themselves. No professional group will put an upcoming, possibly very expensive production in the hands of an unproven novice - with an amateur group the reverse is often the case. Encouragement and support is given willingly.
“Acting and directing are too very different disciplines but it is only by the successful interplay of both that the words and characters on the page are unfolded and made meaningful to an audience. As a production develops in rehearsal so too are the combined ideas and talents of writer and cast brought together by a skilful and imaginative director.
“It is an organic process which involves a lot of talk, a lot of listening, a lot of experimentation and a lot of mutual respect. In large scale productions such as Oklahoma the creative talents of the musical director and the choreographer are also vital to the integrity and entertainment value of the end product.”
The experienced production team has worked long and hard with the talented cast to bring Oklahoma to packed audiences in the week ahead.
Set in Western Indian Territory just after the turn of the last century, the high spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys, provides the colourful backdrop for handsome cowboy Curly (Shane Broderick) and Laurie (Audrey O’Meara) a winsome farmgirl to play out their love story.
Counterpointing the serious elements of the story is a comic subplot involving innocently promiscous Ado Annie (Aileen Quaid) her erswhile sweetheart Will Parker (Darragh Molloy) and lascivious travelling salesman Ali Hakim (Darren Franks).
Wonderful music, lively dance scenes and chorus numbers enrich the story. Will Laurie and Curley’s happiness be threatened by the menacing, obsessive farmhand - Jud Frye (Adrian Shiels) or will all end well, under the watchful eye of Aunt Eller (Barbara Hanamy) and a host of other great characters?
Oklahoma will run from Monday, March 28 to Saturday, April 2 at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre.
Last remaining tickets are available from the box office on 057 91 22911, Mon – Fri 1-5.30pm and www.birrstageguild.com
Book soon to avoid disappointment!