Arts Column with Conor Malone

Arts Column with         Conor Malone
This Week’s Highlights

This Week’s Highlights

The Easter Bank Holiday weekend is generally a quiet time in the arts but there’s still a few things for you to do other than eating chocolate. You’re not allowed go anywhere on Good Friday so why not stave off the impending cabin fever by having a great night out at stupendous Bluegrass/Americana/Old Time Music trio Tumbling Bones at The Balor, Ballybofey tonight.

Dirty Dancing at The Shebeen, the sequel to last years hit comedy 50 Shades of Red, White and Blue is at The Millennium Forum in Derry on Easter Saturday. Then on Easter Monday, Feis Dhoire Cholmcille begins a four day celebration of Irish music and culture – the largest of its kind in the North West.

Next Wednesday, the Balor’s big in-house musical production of The Sound Of Music begins a mammoth run.

The Sound Of Music

Rodgers & Hammersteins famous musical returns to the Balor stage, 29 years after it was first performed in Ballybofey, for what promises to be a spectacular event.

The original Balor production back in 1985 was a very big deal. It was the first large scale musical to be staged in the then new (now old) Balor Theatre and proved an enormous success, running for a whopping 15 nights and then going on down to Sligo to perform in the Hawkswell. (Remember, this was long before An Grianan in Letterkenny was built). I actually have a DVD of it at home made from the original VHS recording of the show. It was given to me because my wife’s mother played the Countess in it ,so it’s a nice keepsake to have.

We had a get together for the original cast and the new cast here in The Balor about six weeks or so ago and it really struck me how fondly the production is still remembered in The Twin Towns. An anecdote here, a story there - it obviously held some great memories for all the old cast members.

The Sound Of Music is, of course, one of the most popular of all the classic musicals. Originally a Broadway musical, then a much loved 5-time Oscar winning film, it’s among the most celebrated shows in musical theatre. Based on the real life story of the Von Trapp family, it tells the story of Maria, who leaves an Austrian convent to serve as a governess for the seven children of the widowed Captain Von Trapp. Maria falls in love with the stern captain only to be forced to flee as the Nazis invade Austria. The show’s musical numbes are instantly recognisable and audiences will revel in iconic melodies like ‘My Favourite Things’, ‘Edelweiss’ , ‘Do-Ray-Me’ and many more.

As with the original, it’s a local cast – over twenty of them in fact, with popular local school teacher Andrea Long in the lead role of Maria. It’s directed, as was the first one, by Kieran Quinn and it’s guaranteed to be a great night’s fun and musical entertainment.

The Sound Of Music opens next Wednesday, April 23rd and runs until Saturday May 3rd at 8pm nightly in The Balor. There’s no show on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th. All tickets for opening night are €12.50 with proceeds going to St Mary’s National School, Stranorlar. Tickets for all other nights are €15 adult, €10 concession with a family of four ticket on offer for €40. You can book via the Balor Box Office on 074 913 1840 (10am to 5pm Monday to Friday) or book online 24/7 at

The Man In the Woman’s Shoes

There’s a charming drama at An Grianan next Thursday (April 24th) with Mikel Murfi’s The Man In the Woman’s Shoes.

It’s 1978 and cobbler Pat Farnon has a peculiar business practice. He wears women’s shoes to ‘break them back in’ after repairing them. We join him on the five mile walk from his wee white cottage to town and back again, getting to enjoy the company of the characters he meets along the way. There’s water diviner Huby Patterson, Kitsy Raine, the lady manager of the football team, athlete Casimir Marshall, an array of farmers who all seem to be called Gilhooley and Kemp – a man whose idea of a good time is to direct traffic wherever he finds it.

The play was originally commissioned by the Hawkswell Theatre and Sligo County Council Arts Services for the Bealtaine Festival for Older People. As part of his research, Mikel spent a lot of time touring County Sligo meeting various active age groups, retirement groups, history societies and writers groups, so many of the yarns included in the play have a basis in reality. It premiered in the foyer of St John’s Hospital, Sligo and has gone from there to tour extensively around the country. It received an Irish Times Theatre Award nomination for Best New Play and was recently the recipient of the Stewart Parker Trust / BBC Radio Drama Award for 2013. Audiences and critics alike have shown great appreciation for this light hearted and funny encounter with an ageing man who has a boundless enthusiasm for life.

The Man In the Woman’s Shoes is at An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny next Thursday April 24th at 8.00pm. Tickets are €15 (€12 concession) available from An Grianan on 074 912 0777 or

The Two Loves Of Gabriel Foley

Another comedy play on its way to An Grianan next week is The Two Loves Of Gabriel Foley, written by Jimmy Kearey and performed by The Acorn Players from Mohill in Co. Leitrim. It’s another comedy that has done well round the idlands and west especially, with a recent Sunday Independent article dubbing the author as the most successful playwright you’ve never heard of.

The central character is middle-aged bachelor farmer Gabriel who lives with his mother. There’s a love triangle involving Gabriel, upmarket Hazel and cheerful country woman Chrissie. By the time Chrissie makes her feelings known for Gabriel, Hazel is already making plans for the farm.

The Two Loves of Gabriel Foley is at An Grianan, Letterkenny on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th of April at 8.00pm nightly. Tickets are €18 (€15 concession) available from An Grianan on 074 912 0777 or online at,