Ballyshannon Musical Society, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, has an enviable reputation for the quality of its shows. So, it was with some excitement and anticipation that I made my way to the Abbey Centre on Tuesday night. After all, The Sound of Music is my absolute favourite musical of all time and I’d heard this version was going to be pretty good.
I am pleased beyond belief to tell you that, not only was I not disappointed, but the show I saw far exceeded my expectations.
Most of the amateur musicals I’ve seen managed to get the singing and the music right, but the acting and dancing often seem to be nothing more than an afterthought.
Not in this case. Yes, the singing was exceptional. The brilliant Lorraine McGloin, who has already dazzled audiences as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific and Eliza Doolittle, managed the very difficult range required of any Maria with deceptive ease. All the cast, especially the children, also sang beautifully. But it was the nuns, yes, the nuns, that caused my jaws to drop and brought tears of joy to my eyes.
The show opens with the nuns singing their morning prayers and the complex harmonies are impeccable. Veteran Sheila Gavigan, as the Mother Abbess, brings the house down with her spine-tingling rendition of Climb Ev’ry Mountain. Thanks to musical director Niamh Currid for bringing the best out of the wonderful orchestra and cast and to Angela Currid who directed the Nun’s Chorus.
What was equally impressive was the excellence of the acting throughout. Lorraine McGloin’s warm bond of affection with the children was apparent and, despite the sentimentality of the storyline, her sweetness never trespassed over into saccharine territory. In this version, the stern captain (Conor Carney), the cold Baroness and the formidable Mother Abbess of the film are all warmer, kinder, more likeable characters. The children also impressed hugely, giving performances that adults with years of acting experience would have been proud of. Andrea McGlynn, as the quiet but insightful Brigitta, and Sorcha Feehily, as little Gretl, both won my heart - wee stars, that pair! Farragh Bogle, Karen Summerville and Linda Gillespie also impressed as Sisters Margaretta, Berthe and Sophia respectively. Their distinctive personalities were well established in their very first scene and they continued to delight throughout. Kudos to Maura Logue for her excellent acting direction of this very talented cast.
Choreography, sound, set and lights were all of a very professional standard and highly effective.
The house was more than three quarters full on the opening and the show finishes on Saturday. So, if you don’t want to miss this exceptionally enjoyable night out, ring the Abbey Centre straightaway on 071 985 1375.