Ballina students bring the story of Billie to the stage

Billie (Lara Sheridan) is watched by adjudicators Judge Jeffrey (Clare Dennis), Lady Penelope (Jennifer Salmon), and Judge Ian (Maddie Mahony). Photo: Henry Wills.

Billie (Lara Sheridan) is watched by adjudicators Judge Jeffrey (Clare Dennis), Lady Penelope (Jennifer Salmon), and Judge Ian (Maddie Mahony). Photo: Henry Wills.

Sit back and enjoy the magical story of Billie from Thursday, March 22 to Saturday, March 24 next, as told by the students of St Mary’s Secondary School. Curtain goes up in the convent hall at 8pm each night

St Mary’s Secondary School and musical success are almost synonymous terms – and after more than three decades of sell-out shows, it is not hard to see why. Move over Broadway, the Ballina all-girls school on the hill has earned its place in lights, with a track record of cleverly reworked classics which are given a new lease of life on the convent hall stage.

This year is no exception with an 80-strong transition year cast spearheading this year’s original script of a dance and drama show-stopper aptly entitled Billie. Added to that, a chorus of first year, second year, and fifth year students, and you get a small taste of the volume expected on stage – almost 200 voices, talents, and faces breathing life into a show that promises colour, music, song, dance, and plenty of drama.

And while entertainment is the order of the day, there are a few life lessons to be learned along the way – with this modern story addressing the timeless themes of poverty, protest, dance, and dreams.

The story opens in 1973 with the birth of Billie Elliot to parents Jackie and Jenny. Eleven years later, in 1984, the death of Jenny leaves Jackie a single parent to children Billie and Tony. Add to the mix, Billie’s grandmother and the stage is set for a family story with a difference.

Tony Elliot has a good job as an accountant with the mines and is dedicated to the memory of his grandfather who was a miner, originally from Mayo and this leads to disputes with his dad, Jackie.

Dance classes start in the area under the direction of Rose Watkins and Billie is encouraged to attend by her friend Mandy. Soon Billie is skipping her extra maths tuition to dance — aided and abetted by Eileen, her brother’s girlfriend. As we journey with the Elliots, a story of dreams, dedication, dance, and more than a bit of drama is promised.

Billie is the latest in a very colourful tapestry of theatre, carefully woven by the girls of St Mary’s, under the guidance of director Peter McLoughlin, musical director Regina Deacy, and choreographer Annette Leonard.

The team also incorporates the talents of the art department led by Renee Cronin and the team of home economics teachers, Marie Clarke, Anita Ginley, Shona Garvey, and Eva Beirne involved in costume preparation. This year’s show comes on foot of the 2017 extravaganza Illegally Blonde.

Tickets can be purchased through the box office ticket line on 087 777 3827. Adults €12 and students/OAPs €8.

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