Lockdown brought all sorts of mayhem to the entertainment industry. It robbed artists of a livelihood; it stole the opportunity of witnessing the magic from the audiences; and it put a pall of darkness over theatres for the best part of two years.
However, imagine if you were in the opening days of a new show when the first restrictions came in. Well, that is what happened to Galway's Twin Productions back in March 2020. Months and months of rehearsals and technical set-up were all for nought when they had to cancel their shows and bring the curtain down on investment and time expended.
Such an experience would knock the good out of production for a lesser man, but for Sean Power, the only way was to get back, to challenge all the obstacles and to come back with an ambitious and colourful show that will wow the Town Hall Theatre audiences next week (August 10-14 ).
"In March 2020 our show Dolly Parton's Nine To Five was closed after only two performances which left our theatre group in serious debt," he told me yesterday.
"Some companies have given us extended credit but are still owed monies from that time. Not receiving any grant support from the Government, it is a bit risky taking on this new show, but we believe it will be wonderful.
"I discussed with the Town Hall Theatre management about bringing the Galway Annual Summer Show back after the lockdown came to an end, and I decided to look for the licence to produce and direct Disney's The Little Mermaid.
"I put the word out and there was a really great interest in it from various age groups. Some cast members we worked with before came back and were so excited to get involved in a live musical production. I was anxious as I said it was three years since we did the summer musical which was Peter Pan in 2019.
"But we believe it will be a great success, and slowly but surely we will clear any outstanding debts. This show is very expensive to put on as we have a big set being built specially for this production.
"To bring the underwater scenes to life, we are hiring in a large LED digital wall which will be very exciting. The costume hire company in Dublin again have designed new costumes for the main principal performers.
"It's brilliant to be back and we look forward to bringing one of Disney's show to the Town Hall Theatre next week.
Has lockdown changed the way in which he stages a musical like this?
"We approached it like the many musicals we have taken on over the years. We were conscious of and health and safety measures we were advised to take. All the cast members got on with chorus rehearsals under the direction of Emma Brogan and the choreography by Declan J.Gardiner.
"Most have performed with our musical group and have worked with other groups in the city and county, but a few of our younger performers are performing for the first time.
"Some of our experienced adult performers include Keith Hanley, Amy Hehir, Darren Shine, Michael Cooney, Declan J.Gardiner. Others include Aisling Carroll, Aoibhe Ryan, Heather Egan, Katie Larkin, Lauren Egan, Sarah Harnett, Emily Egan, Seán Steede, Lucy Keenan, Cian Power, Shane Hanley plus a full chorus.
However, Sean knows that there are huge challenges involved in staging what was an animated classic. You need a good team.
"A show of this magnitude needs a good team for sure. I direct and produce this production; my musical director is Emma Brogan, choreographer is Declan J. Gardiner, Costumes are coordinated by Tara Killilea and Seán Gilligan and his dress makers, Sound engineering is by Fintan Higgins, Lighting design is under Paul Kelly. Sound to Light are designing the LED digital wall with the animation designed by Richard Frank in Chicago.
"Ali Murphy designed the make up and hairstyling/wigs. Without a good close knit team I wouldn't be able to bring this amazing show to the stage and especially after a three-year gap. It's the first family musical at the Town Hall in over two and a half years.
There is great colour in the sets and costumes as well as the animation images on on the LED wall. This, coupled with the live performances on stage brings a new dimension to the type of musical theatre that Twin Productions have brought to the stage since their first show in 1997.
"This is the full production of the show and it includes some of the great songs written for the Broadway show which includes: Part of Your World, Under the Sea, Kiss the Girl and many more.
The story — Beautiful mermaid Ariel (Aisling Carroll/Aoibhe Ryan ), should be a happy girl — she lives in an enchanted undersea country,with her six Mersisters and her father King Triton (Darren Shine ) who rules the underwater kingdom.
She has the most beautiful singing voice but she is a passionate, headstrong teenager, and wants what she cannot have and that is to live on land.
When she falls in love with the handsome Prince Eric (Keith Hanley ), Ariel is more determined than ever to gain a pair of legs. But her only option is to defy her furious father, and bargain with the sea witch, Ursula (Amy Hehir ), trading her voice as the price to grow legs and gain entry onto dryland. With the help of her little fish friend, Flounder (Cameron Heneghan ), the seagull, Scuttle (Luke Dennigan ), and officious court composer, the crab, Sebastian (Declan J.Gardiner ).
Ariel must wordlessly gain Prince Eric's love within three days — or lose her soul to the ambitious witch.
Based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, and the wildly popular Disney film, this musical staging of Disney’s The Little Mermaid features a funny and fanciful book by Doug Wright, with the beloved score by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Glenn Slater in an expanded but completely faithful form.
It’s a show for all the family of all ages. This production is presented by arrangement with Music Theatre International.
This Twin Productions show deserves the support of us all. To have live musicals produced and staged in the heart of the west is a wonderful privilege. To help support the entertainment entrepreneurs who take on the risk so we can have a good show, is something we should all endeavour to do.
Get your tickets on line @ THT.ie or by phoning 091569777. Let's sell this show out and have a good time in the process. Welcome back, Twin Productions...break a leg.