From last April until now seems like the blink of an eye, but in that time a major brand new musical has been honed, cast, marketed and brought to the stage in the west of Ireland. Yes, the much-heralded dramatic musical in two acts, On a Wing and Prayer launched boldly into the public sphere for three nights last night Thursday, November 25 and will run until tomorrow Saturday November 27, at the Royal Theatre, Castlebar. And all in aid of a great cause, the Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation, and specifically for the Foundation’s Palliative Care Service.
On A Wing And A Prayer has been written be Terry Reilly, former editor of the Western People newspaper, and author of the book On A Wing and a Prayer, and Tommy Marren of Mid West Radio, who has wide stage experience, and is also both the director and the narrator.
The musical is based on the book of the same name by Terry Reilly, and tells the amazing story behind the extraordinary Monsignor Horan’s many great undertakings, including the building of Knock Airport. It opens with the Apparition at Knock in 1879, traces Horan’s career in various parishes and many enterprises, the Tooreen dancehall and the Devil scare, bringing the Pope to Knock, building an airport and dying within months of its opening.
Musical director is the talented Lavinia Gilmartin of the international award-winning St Cecelia’s School of Song in Ballina, one of the finest academies in the country.
Since the beginning of September, and starting with two nights a week and increasing to five nights a week as the production date loomed, over 100 people have been getting together under the directors, each and every one giving of their time freely to make this show happen for the cause. Many have to travel long distances each night, and their dedication and commitment has been truly inspiring.
The show includes 14 original songs, composed by Terry Reilly, Tommy Marren, with a little help from one of America’s finest and most decorated song writers Rory Bourke, whose roots are in Mayo. Also contributing songs are Derry-born, Mayo-based Dennis McCalmont, and Ballina-born Tom Devere. Amongst characters featured are Charlie Haughey, Garret FitzGerald, Barry Desmond, Jim Mitchell, John Healy, Cathal Duffy, Padraig Flynn, Jim Fahy of RTE, Pope John Paul 11, Jim Ryan, Tom Neary, Sean Balfe, and Frank Harrington, all of whom had a role in the emerging Knock Airport saga.
Actors include Frank Forde of Castlebar and Pat Feeley of Sligo — both of whom play several key roles; Kieran Coen of Ballina, Martin Curry of Westport, Matt McLoughlin, Anthony Walshe, Michael Rice, John McLoughlin, Pat Doyle, Aidan Higgins, Gerry Scanlon, Valerie Neary, Cian Harrison, Brendan McGuinness, and 100 more. For more information log on to www.wingandprayermusical.com