They call it the City of Bridges. So when a Letterkenny man embarked on a Study Abroad Programme in Pittsburg, U.S.A., it may have been no surprise when he met and fell for a local woman, Mary Monroe, thus bridging a relationship between his home town and the second largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Something of a fairytale romance you might say and so again it’s no surprise that Mary is brandishing a magic wand when this newspaper catches up with her in the Mount Errigal Hotel at the official launch of the Letterkenny Pantomime Society’s production of Dick Whittington and His Cat which will take to the stage for a week long run in An Grianan Theatre starting with a matinee this Saturday.
“No, I didn’t quite come here for the Pantomime,” the affable American laughs. But fate - not to mention her now husband, Joseph Devlin - may have ordained otherwise.
The couple married here three years ago and followed that up with another wedding party in Mary’s native city. Now resident in Letterkenny, it was through a friend of Joseph, John Duddy (who takes the lead role in this year’s Pantomime) that she was persuaded to join the local Panto group.
Consequently she’ll make her debut here on the Letterkenny stage as Fairy Bow Bells and is eagerly looking forward to curtain up.
“I’m really enjoying the rehearsals - it’s been hard work but great fun. They’re a great bunch of people to be performing with and very talented.”
That fun element and friendly banter was there for all to see and hear as the cast and crew, some of them at any rate, got together to announce details of this year’s show. A dress rehearsal with all, including a young woman from Pittsburg, kitted out in the brightly coloured costumes that will fill the stage of An Grianan from this weekend on.
There may be nerves on the part of the debutant but if there are it’s something she’ll be well used to given her previous experiences in the drama quarters of her home city.
“I was involved with the Pittsburg Creative & Performing Arts school or Capa as it’s known and I loved every minute of it. I’ve done a few musicals and plays so performing isn’t something new for me.” Dancing was another forte and, if required, Fairy Bow Bells will be able to step out with the best of them.
And Mary’s opinion of her newly adopted surroundings? “I really love it here. It’s a beautiful county and the people are great.”
But, she admits, it has been a big change. “I do miss Pittsburg but I suppose it’s only natural when you’re a long way away from the place of your birth and upbringing.”
Last August, her parents Carmen and Lynn Monroe undertook their visit to Letterkenny and brought some part of home with them. “It was great having them here and they loved it here too.”
Like fellow cast members, Mary has been devoting much of her recent time to rehearsals while husband, Joseph, is currently undertaking a course in computer science at Magee University in Derry.
It’s hardly likely that the Letterkenny Pantomime Society will go on tour to Pittsburg with Dick Whittington and His Cat but a part of the city will nevertheless play a significant role in the forthcoming production at An Grianan Theatre.