Students star as Shakespeare makes a comeback in Shannon
17 May 2011
Photo: Juliet (Michelle Cawley), Romeo (Lorcan Quinn) and Friar Laurence (Feidhlim Hillery) in Muse Productions performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Oakwood Arms.
All those who attended last week’s performance of Romeo and Juliet in the Oakwood Arms Hotel were gifted with a special treat. Muse Productions, in association with students from St Caimin’s Community School and St Patrick’s Comprehensive staged an outstanding version of Shakespeare’s tragic love story.
Muse Productions is the brainchild of two local couples, Ted & Ann Germaine and their good friends Martin & Clare McNelis. All four have a passion for drama in particular and are keen to re-energise theatre-goers in the locality.
Ted had been involved with the award-winning Icarus Drama Group for many years and drew on his experience and contacts to involve a number of Icarus veterans.
Tony Lyttle designed and illustrated the set, his wife Maria attended to hair and make-up. Also backstage old hands such as Eugene Logan, on sound, and Paddy Smyth made their own contributions.
According to Ted, “we aim to provide a platform for all types of theatre to be performed in Shannon with an emphasis on showcasing local talent and providing entertainment to the people of Shannon and the surrounding area.
It is certainly true to say that the new venue is a welcome addition to the town, particularly as it now appears that the promised civic theatre may be no more than a pipedream. Since its addition of a stage and fabulous sound system, the Oakwood Arms has become an ideal and intimate venue for concerts and plays.
Last week the hall was transformed beyond recognition with an imaginative and inventive set making the most of the semi-round, allowing for some enjoyable audience interaction.
This production of Romeo and Juliet brought together some very experienced performers such as Nicky Doherty, Gary Keane and Feidhlim Hillery with some young debutants including the two leads, Michelle Cawley, who sparkled as Juliet, and Lorcan Quinn as Romeo.
As an illustration of the dedication and pleasure that the young people took from the experience one needs to look no further than Lorcan, who cycled to and from rehearsals from his Kilmurry home.
The performance flowed smoothly considering the diversity of age and experience. Michelle Cawley was simply terrific. Despite having to deliver some lengthy dialogue she never missed a line of the very flowery and over-stated language which is uniquely Shakespearean.
Among the more seasoned performers Nicky Doherty was brilliant, as usual, as Juliet’s nurse, combining humour and pathos to a professional acting degree. Feidhlim Hillery as Friar Laurence was also outstanding, one could easily imagine him treading the boards of more famous theatres away from his job as the town’s apothecary!
Superb management of lighting and sound created the right atmosphere to allow the production to ebb and flow at the right moments. No doubt the young male actors revelled in the sword fighting scenes which they enacted with panache and tremendous gusto.
At the end of the performance I can only say, well done to everyone involved in putting on a great evening’s entertainment and particularly to the young people who will have learned a lot from the experience.
I have no doubt that some of them may yet pursue an acting career. Heaven knows but we may be able to look back and say “I remember his/her first performance in Romeo & Juliet at the Oakwood Arms”.