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Man of La Mancha puts Muse in the spotlight

Man of La Mancha puts Muse in the spotlight

Man of La Mancha has put the spotlight on Shannon theatrical company Muse Productions after receiving three nominations for awards in separate categories by AIMS, the Association of Irish Musical Societies.

Chris Willetts, who played the lead role of Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote, has been nominated in the Best Actor category for the central role of a role he performed to great acclaim by all who attended last November’s production. A member of Shannon Musical Society for many years, Chris has also performed with several theatrical groups in Limerick and has been with Muse Productions since its inception in 2011.

Also nominated in the Best Female Singer category is Jessica Bray for her role as Aldonza/Dulcinea. A Limerick native, Jessica has been involved with both the Limerick musical societies and Shannon Musical Society over the past few years.  Man of La Mancha was her first involvement with Muse Productions.

Last, but by no means least, Kathleen Browne is nominated in the Best House Management category. Kathleen and her team look set on achieving the double as she has also been nominated for Shannon Musical Society in the same category for their recent production of “9 to 5”.

Muse Productions is especially delighted for its founder member Martin McNelis who directed the production. While he has directed several plays for Muse and Icarus, this was Martin’s first foray into directing a musical. National recognition for his first musical is a wonderful achievement.

The AIMS awards ceremony takes place at the INEC Killarney on June 17th. A glittering affair, attended by over 1,000 members from all across Ireland, it is often referred to as the AIMS Oscars!

Muse Productions wishes all its nominees, and those from neighbouring societies, every success in the awards ceremony. The company is currently planning its next production and returns to the stage in the autumn.

Muse to stage Man of La Mancha in Shannon

11 October 2016

Muse Productions return to the stage in St Patrick’s Comprehensive from November 3rd–5th with one of their most ambitions projects to date, Man of La Mancha.
Martin McNelis, founder of Muse and an award winning actor in his own right, will debut as musical director. The original production of Man of La Mancha won five Tony Awards and has been revived four times on Broadway, becoming one of the most enduring works of musical theatre.
Written by Dale Wasserman, it is inspired by the Spanish classic, Don Quixote of La Mancha, the story of one man’s quest for idealism while tilting at windmills and dreaming ‘The Impossible Dream’.
It’s the story of the  knight, Don Quixote, as a play within a play, performed by the writer Miguel de Cervantes and other prisoners held by the Spanish Inquisition.
Chris Willetts stars as Don Quixote with Brian Roche as his man-servant Sancho Panza, the cast also includes Eoghan Rice, Mikey O’Gorman, Eoin Sheedy, Jessica Bray, Clare McNelis, Gary Loughnane, Tony Little and Noel Murphy, names familiar from previous Muse and Shannon Musical Society productions.
Stage design is by Martin McNelis, lighting by Diarmaid O’Loughlin, costumes by Clare McNelis and sound by Star Systems. The set is expertly constructed by Frank Boland and team.
Man of La Mancha takes place in a dungeon cell when Cervantes provides some imaginative escapism for his fellow prisoners awaiting a hearing with the Inquisition.
Cervantes presents a play as his defence in a mock trial. In it, he plays Alhonso Quiana, a man who has set his own reality aside and become Don Quixote De La Mancha. Assisted by Sancho Panza, Quixote tries to avoid his mortal enemy, the Enchanter, and woo the serving wench Aldonza, who he takes to be the lady Dulcinea.
While the production contains some dark moments, McNelis has striven to present the sensitive material in a way that will convey the message that hope and idealism can triumph over cynicism and despair.
Man of La Mancha has been described as a remarkable show and one of the great theatre successes of our time. It is a poignant story of a dying old man whose impossible dream takes over his mind.
Songs such as It’s All the Same, Dulcinea, I’m Only Thinking of Him, The Impossible Dream, I Really Like Him and Little Bird remain in your thoughts well after the performance.
Quixote’s dream is Everyman’s dream. His tilting at windmills is Everyman’s great adventure.

At the launch of Man of La Mancha, were (l-r) Seamus Power, AIMS vice president), Clare McNelis, Mary Smyth, Paddy Smyth and Martin McNelis.
At the launch of Man of La Mancha, were (l-r) Seamus Power, AIMS vice president), Clare McNelis, Mary Smyth, Paddy Smyth and Martin McNelis.

Casting for “Man of La Mancha”


We are delighted to announce our cast for the forthcoming production of “Man of La Mancha”

Cervantes/Don Quixote: Chris Willetts
Sancho Panza: Brian Roche
Escalante/Aldonza:  Jessica Bray
The Governor/Innkeeper:  Noel Murphy
The Padre:  Feidhlim Hillery
The Duke/Carrasco:  Eoghan Rice
Antonia:  Lauren Dunne
The Housekeeper:  Clare McNelis
Pedro:  Eoin Sheedy
Anselmo/Guitarist:  Don O’Sullivan
The Barber:  Gary Loughnane
The Moor:  Ian Collins
The Gypsy:  Pam McGlynn
The Innkeepers Wife:  Pam de Blaca
The Captain of the Inquisition:  Ted Germaine

Muse Productions to bring the classic “Man of La Mancha” to the stage

LaManchaMuse productions are delighted to return to the stage with the classic musical drama “Man of La Mancha” by Dale Wasserman and Mitch Leigh.  Fresh from the success of “The Odd Couple” in October, we are mounting our most ambitious production to date.   “Man of La Mancha” is based on Dale Wasserman’s play “I, Don Quixote” and tells the tale within a tale of Miguel Cervantes’ sojourn in the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition and the history of his “mad knight” Don Quixote de la Mancha which he relates to his fellow prisoners.

An intensely dramatic piece, this production will be directed by Martin McNelis, whose directorial debut many years ago was another Dale Wasserman play, the gripping “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.  Martin has long wanted to bring this, one of his favourite musicals, to the stage with a small intimate cast.  The production will take place November 3rd – 5th in the Comprehensive School, Shannon.  Readings and auditions to be announced shortly.

One Act Festival a great success for Muse

Less than a month after staging the hilarious Odd Couple, Muse Productions were back entertaining Shannon audiences once again with their annual One Act Festival.

Thursday night saw three confined and one open play, starting with Babysitting Calvin from Doonbeg in the confined section.   This comedy is about a man reincarnated as a baby, who attempts to disrupt a date between his late wife and erstwhile friend was very popular with the audience.  It was followed by a ghost story from The Suemas O’Kelly Players entitled The Monkey’s Paw which suited the wet and wild November night.  Fr Matthew Player’s staged a lovely character piece in Geraldine Aron’s The Galway Girl before Ennis Players closed the night with the first open play of the festival, the absurd Burridan’s Ass had the audience in stitches.

On Friday 13th there were four plays in the confined section, all of which were serious dramatic pieces. Lucy in the Sky by Clann Machua was set in a homeless shelter and examined the problems that brought the inmates to their plight.  The Window Cleaner by Coachford Players saw a chance meeting between a burglar and window cleaner and what each learned from the other.  The Sound of Silence by Amphitheatre Company was a self-penned piece exploring the isolation of a disabled man trapped in a useless body.   Finally, Jack Furey by Spike Players related a story of lost love and innocence set against the despair of encroaching dementia. Not an easy night’s theatre for the uninitiated, but certainly thought provoking and challenging.

Saturday night saw three plays in the Open section and the final Confined play of the festival.  The First Punk in Oldcastle by Millrace Drama Group told of a father and son separated by more than years, who finally come to a semblance of peace.  The only Confined play of the night was Fates Thread, described as “a ghost story… murder mystery and a light comedy”.   Kilmeen Drama Group staged the very popular Shakespeare’s a Dick, an hilarious comedy about a redneck cursed with the gift of eloquence!  Finally Schull Drama Group had another new piece of writing, Sally Smart’s Lies, in which she looked at the perils of online dating!     

Returning this year as adjudicator, Brendan Murray was very complimentary of both the venue and organisation of the festival, not to mention the huge variety of drama on offer over the three nights.  “Shakespeare’s a Dick” won Best Actor for Denis O’Sullivan as Ramie, Best Actress went to his co-star Colette Daly as Doris, the play also took the Audience Award. Geraldine Greene from Ennis Players won Best Director for “Burridan’s Ass”.

Most importantly, the placings for One Act Finals points were: Confined Section: 1st “Jack Furey” by Spike Players; 2nd “The Monkey’s Paw” by Seumas O’Kelly Players; 3rd “The Sound of Silence” by Amphitheatre Company.  Open Section: 1st “Shakespeare’s a Dick” by Kilmeen Drama Group; 2nd “Burridan’s Ass” by Ennis Players; 3rd “The First Punk in Oldcastle” by Millrace Drama Group.   Congratulations to all the groups and best of luck in the All Ireland Finals in Galway in December!

Muse Productions to host One Act Festival

Muse Productions to host One Act Festival

03 November 2015

After the runaway success of last month’s hilarious comedy The Odd Couple, the team at Muse Productions will return to action from November 12th to 14th with their hugely popular One Act Festival.

Audiences will be treated to a feast of twelve plays over three nights performed by groups from all over the country.   Those who attended last year’s festival will remember great entertainment from Doonbeg, Coachford, Amphitheatre and Kilmeen.  This year many new groups will perform, including the very popular Ennis Players who were regular visitors to Shannon in years past.

The twelve plays feature a mixture of Comedy and Drama. Three of the plays are new works written by the groups performing.   In all four plays will compete in the Open section and eight in the Confined section so there should be plenty of variety on each night!

Tickets are €10 for each night, but there will be a special offer of a €20 Festival ticket that will encompass all three nights and also includes a free programme!  The Shannon One Act Festival will be performed cabaret style, so patrons will be welcome to bring drinks into the theatre for a relaxed night of entertainment.  The festival runs nightly at 7.30pm sharp from Thursday November 12th until Saturday November 14th in the Oakwood Arms Hotel.


Final rehearsals staged for The Odd Couple

Final rehearsals staged for The Odd Couple

Mikey Gorman, Martin McNelis, Feidhlim Hillery, AnnaMaria Barrett, Eoin Sheedy, Clare McNelis and Eoghan Rice rehearse for The Odd Couple

06 October 2015

Fifty years after its world premiere on Broadway,  Muse Productions are “all systems go” as they head into their final week of rehearsals for their own production of Neil Simon’s award-winning play The Odd Couple.

After a run of almost 1,000 performances on Broadway, the characters were revived in a successful 1968 film and 1970s television series. In 1985 the play was adapted by Neil Simon for a female cast.

Many well-known faces from TV and theatre have played the lead rolls on stage and screen over the years, including Walther Matthau, Jack Klugman, Art Carney, Tony Randall, Jack Lemmon, Mathew Broderick and  Nathan Lane.

In the female production, the leads were played by Rita Moreno and Sally Struthers. Most recently CBS produced a TV sitcom in 2015 starring Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon.

Muse Productions have assembled a local cast, comprising of Martin McNelis and Eoin Sheedy in the lead roles, accompanied by Feidhlim Hillery, Eoghan Rice, Mikey Gorman, Clare McNelis and Anna Maria Barrett.

Also welcomed back to the Shannon stage is Gary Loughnane who performed many times with Shannon Musical society and other local drama groups.

Muse Productions are looking forward to welcoming old and new fans during the week, for what is expected to be a super comedy performance to suit all ages and tastes.

The play runs for four nights from Wednesday 14th to Saturday 17th of October in The Oakwood Arms Hotel at 8pm nightly. Tickets are €10 and can be purchased on the door. A reduced rate of €5 is available for the special opening night. For more information on tickets, call  087 443 2222.

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