Arts Column with Conor Malone

Arts Column with Conor Malone
This Week’s Highlights

This Week’s Highlights

Singer Barbara Dickson is at The Millennium Forum, Derry tonight while “The Aul Fella From Derry” – a new play by Irene Melaugh – kicks off a three-night run at The Playhouse (Thursday to Saturday).

Blue Ribbon Group’s Honkytonk Ho! Ho! Hodown is at An Grianán, Letterkenny on Friday and Saturday. Also on Friday, the 2014 installment of the popular Showstoppers show hits The Millennium Forum and Toy Soldier play The Greenroom Live in Letterkenny.

The Butt Drama Circle’s Christmas Panto, The Wizard Of Oz, begins this coming Saturday, November 22nd, at The Balor, Ballybofey. There are 10 shows over two weeks – at 4pm on the Saturdays and Sundays and at 8pm Wednesday to Friday - with the final curtain on Friday, December 5th.

Also on Saturday, comedian Conal Gallen brings his stand-up show, “A Laugh and a Half”, to The Millennium Forum, Derry and Leila Jane plays The Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny with support from Calamity Gin and The Sour Tones.

The Wizard Of Oz

The countdown to Christmas begins in The Twin Towns next weekend with the start of The Butt Drama Circle Christmas Community Panto, and the switching on of the Ballybofey and Stranorlar Christmas lights.

This year’s panto is the much-loved “The Wizard of Oz”, following Dorothy on her quest to return home to Kansas after being swept over the rainbow to the mysterious land of Oz.

After landing her house right on top of the Wicked Witch of the East, and subsequently falling foul of The Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy must make her way to the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz in the hopes that he’ll grant her wish and send her home.

There to help her on her way are Glinda the Good Witch and the Munchkins of Munchkinland, while on her journey she’ll meet new companions – Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. She’ll need all their help and more to outwit the Wicked Witch of the West and her evil henchmen. Will Dorothy find her way home? Will her new companions find their hearts’ desire? Why does Toto talk anyway? Find out these answers and much more in “The Wizard of Oz”.

Packed full of music and laughter, the panto is always one of our most popular shows of the year here at the Balor. There’s a great sense of community about the production with a huge cast of over 60 locals, many of them children.

Dorothy and Co. will join Santa to switch on the Twin Towns Christmas lights at 6pm on Sunday, directly after the panto performance.

“The Wizard of Oz” opens on Saturday, November 22nd and runs until Friday, December 5th, at The Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey. There are matinee shows at 4pm on Saturday 22nd, Sunday 23rd, Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th of November. There are 8pm shows on Wednesday November 26th to Friday November 28th and Wednesday December 3rd to Friday December 5th. Tickets are €10 for adults, €6 for children with a family ticket admitting 2 adults and 2 children available for just €30. Group rates for larger parties are also available upon request. Contact The Balor Box Office on 0749131840 or book online at www.balorartscentre.com

PJ Gallagher

Back in the golden days of our monthly comedy club at The Balor, PJ Gallagher was always one of the top draws. The Irish comedian pool seems to have thinned a bit from 2006-2008 and the comedy scene in general seems to have polarised into those that do the big 500+ seaters and those that thrive in the smaller, 50 to 100 capacity comedy clubs. As a result, comedy gigs have become scarcer in the likes of An Grianán and The Balor – all the more reason to go when a good one comes around.

PJ, of course, made his name with the Naked Camera TV shows, and particularly with his comedic characters such as Jake Stevens with his newspapers and his whistling and “The Dirty Aul’ One.” On stage live, he really takes it up a notch though, when he hits his stride interacting with the audience off the cuff, he’s one of the funniest men in Irish comedy. I remember after one Balor gig actually having a pain in my jaw from laughing.

You can catch PJ Gallagher at An Grianán, Letterkenny on Friday week, November 28th, at 8pm. Tickets are €20 with a special offer of four tickets for €70, so round up three friends and book at An Grianán, 0749120777 or online at www.angrianan.com

Christmas Shopping

There’s a few shows booked here in the Balor for early 2015 which would make ideal gifts. Queen tribute band Flash Harry play here on Saturday, January 31st, and Tommy Fleming returns to Ballybofey on Friday, February 27th. Also in February, Conal Gallen will premiere the follow up to his hilarious, “A Bit On The Side”. The sequel, called, “A Bit On The Sunny Side”, runs on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th February. And another comedy favourite Pat Shortt brings his new show, “Selfie”, to The Balor on Friday April 10th.

Big names coming to An Grianán include Neil Delamere, who’s new show, “Fresh Prince of Delamere”, rolls into town on Friday, February 6th; and Des Bishop has a new show, “Coming Home”, at An Grianán on Sunday, February 22nd. You can also see Conal Gallen’s, “A Bit On The Sunny Side”, in Letterkenny on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th of March.

And, of course, if you want to leave the choice of show up to whoever you’re buying for, gift vouchers are available from most if not all arts venues.