Peter Pan takes flight

Deirdre Ní Chloscaí. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy.

Deirdre Ní Chloscaí. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy.

SWORDS WILL be swished, buckles will be swashed, and songs will be sung when the smash hit Broadway musical Peter Pan swaggers into the Town Hall Theatre next week in what promises to be a rip-roaring staging by Galway’s Twin Productions.

This Tony Award-winning show, based on the character created by JM Barrie in the early 1900s, has been a perennial favourite with audiences since its premiere 60 years ago and it is sure to thrill, captivate and charm young and old alike during its Galway run.

While Twin Productions have become a summer staple in the Town Hall over the past few years, the two principal roles in the show – Peter Pan and Captain Hook – are both played by newcomers to the company, Deirdre Ní Chloscaí and Patrick Byrne.

A native of Monaghan, Deirdre is currently a student at NUI Galway where she has been active with both Dramsoc and the campus musical society GUMS. Musical theatre is her abiding passion as she tells me over an afternoon phone call.

“Before coming to Galway I went to stage school in Monaghan and appeared in the school production of Les Miserables,” she says. “I’ve done plays and I like doing them, but my main interest is in musical theatre and it would be my dream to make a career in it if I can manage it.”

Deirdre recently featured with Druid, taking a role in the Galway International Arts Festival Druid Debut reading of Emily Gillmor Murphy’s play A Boy Called Nedd.

“I absolutely loved being in Druid Debuts,” she enthuses. “It was an incredible experience working with theatre professionals and on a show that might go on to receive a full production.”

So how did she land the plum role of Peter Pan?

“A friend of mine told me the auditions were on and he said I should go,” Deirdre replies. “I was kind of timid at first but he kept insisting I should go along and do it. Finally he had to practically drag me along by the hand to the audition.

“I did the audition and then afterwards kind of forgot about it until one day a couple of weeks later, I was on the train back home and I was just thinking to myself, ‘I would really love to play a lead role in a musical’ and the very next minute my phone went and it was Sean Power offering me the role of Peter Pan. I couldn’t believe it!

“I’m really enjoying the rehearsals so far. I’m loving working with the kids in the show, they are so full of confidence and ability, it’s great to see and a real inspiration for me.”

Deirdre also admits she hasn’t yet tried out the flying harness that will enable her to do Peter Pan’s aerial manoeuvres. “I’m a bit nervous about that,” she laughs.

No doubt she will take it smoothly in her stride and duly wow Town Hall patrons as she swoops and pirouettes high above them. And as she does so, down below her will be the dastardly villain Captain Hook, furiously seething and scheming to bring about Peter’s downfall. The role of this wonderful archetypal baddie is taken by Patrick Byrne, another Twin Productions newbie.

Actor Pat Byrne as Captain Hook.

Patrick hails from Ballinasloe and was recently nominated as Best Supporting Actor in the AIMS awards for his performance in Me and My Girl.

“I saw the Peter Pan auditions advertised on Facebook and went along and was lucky enough to land the role,” he tells me.

While audiences might think of Hook in terms of his film portrayals in the Disney cartoon and the movie with Dustin Hoffman, Patrick is determined to put his own stamp on the part, “I wouldn’t take any influence from those other depictions of Hook,” he says. “I’d like to bring my own interpretation of the role to the show.”

Hook’s musical numbers in the show suggest the rascally pirate captain has a soft spot for dance as they are titled ‘Hook’s Tango’, ‘Hook’s Waltz’, and ‘Hook’s Tarantella’ so that alone will cast an intriguing new light on the rogue.

Patrick, whose credits also include notable roles in West Side Story and the short film Space Mag, echoes Deirdre’s admiration of the many young performers in Peter Pan. “The kids in the show are amazing and it really brings out how much of an appeal the show will have for young people as well as adults,” he notes.

Peter Pan runs at the Town Hall from Wednesday August 13 to Sunday 17. The Wednesday to Saturday performances commence at 7pm while the Sunday show is at 6pm. There are matinee performances on Saturday (2.30pm ) and Sunday (2pm ).

Tickets are €18/16. Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie

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