Screen queen brought to colourful life

Going Out

HOLLYWOOD LEGEND Elaine O’Dwyer in character as Maureen O’Hara.

Thursday, March 5, will see the the story of Hollywood legend Maureen O’Hara brought to the stage in Westport Town Hall Theatre, in a dramatisation of her life, written and performed by Limerick native Elaine O’Dwyer. The play, ‘The Queen of Technicolor – The story of Maureen O’Hara’, is on a national tour marking the centenary of the star’s birth in 1920.
This one-woman show tells the story of how O’Hara navigated her way from humble Irish beginnings to reach the top of the Hollywood tree. Within a stream of chronological and flashback scenes, Elaine O’Dwyer takes her audience on an intimate journey with O’Hara, revealing the real woman behind the limelight.
Star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, the legendary Maureen O’Hara’s on-screen roles often mirrored her true persona as a tough and courageous woman. O’Hara’s stunning looks led Hollywood to dub her ‘The Queen of Technicolor’ – a title she grew to resent, as she wanted to be seen as more than a pretty face. She wanted her acting talent to be taken more seriously.
The Irish actress, best known for her roles in ‘The Quiet Man’, ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, ‘How Green Was My Valley’ and ‘The Parent Trap’, played fiercely passionate but sensible heroines. She held her own alongside Hollywood’s top leading men, including long-time friend and frequent co-star John Wayne, who described O’Hara as the ‘greatest guy I ever knew’.
The outspoken screen star paid the price for standing up to the men who ran the Hollywood studios, men who often expected more than a performance from their stars. Though no longer alive when the #MeToo and #TimesUp anti-sexual-harassment movements rocked Hollywood, O’Hara had let the world know how she had been treated – and how she felt about it.
She wrote in her biography, ’Tis Herself: “…more than anything, there was a resistance to Maureen O’Hara from the studio casting executives. I always felt they resented me … part of me has always blamed the casting couch. I wasn’t a whore. I’ve said over and over, you can have anything you want in life provided you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices for it. I was unwilling to make that kind of sacrifice to get a part in a movie.”  
Maureen O’Hara died at the age of 95 at her home in Boise, Idaho, where she had moved in 2013 to be closer to her relatives. Prior to that, she had been living at Lugdine Park, a stunning 45-acre estate in Glengarriff, Co Cork, which she had purchased with her husband Charles Blair in 1970.
Portraying over 20 characters in this tour de force performance, Elaine O’Dwyer takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster, revealing the woman – and the extraordinary talent – behind this flame-haired dame. Memorabilia buffs will be delighted to learn that the vanity case used in the show is the original case which belonged to Maureen O’Hara.
‘Queen of Technicolor – The Story of Maureen O’Hara’ premiered at Limerick’s Belltable Arts Centre in November 2018. The show is directed by Gráinne Byrne, with music composed by Maria Ryan, lighting design by Matty Moran and sound design by Tara Doolan.

For tickets (€18/€16 each) to ‘Queen of Technicolor – The Story of Maureen O’Hara’ on Thursday, March 5, contact the Westport Town Hall Theatre box office on 098 28459 or visit Curtains up at 8pm.