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Musical treat in Ballinrobe

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Ballinrobe Musical Society’s production of ‘Hot Mikado’
IN UNISON A chorus scene from Ballinrobe Musical Society’s production of ‘Hot Mikado’ in Ballinrobe Community School, last week. Pic: Michael Donnelly

Musical treat in Ballinrobe


Denise Horan

“It won’t change your view of the world in any way, but you’ll leave with a smile on your face.” So said a colleague last week when asked what Ballinrobe Musical Society’s production, ‘Hot Mikado’ was like. It was an accurate summation of the group’s adaptation of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic.
Those who look forward to Ballinrobe’s annual musical production and who attend without fail year on year know the show will be of the highest quality. That’s a given at this stage; the standards of this professional troupe never drop. So when enquiries are made in advance of attending, it’s merely to get a sneak preview of who the star performers are this year or what special dramatic treats are in store.
By last Thursday morning, when I finally made a booking, no negative word had found its way to my ears in relation to the show. ‘Fantastic’, ‘really lively’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘superb singing’ were some of the comments I heard – and I concurred with all by the end of that night.
I must first admit that ‘Hot Mikado’ is not my favourite Balinrobe show of recent years – ‘Ragtime’, ‘Gondoliers’ and ‘Me and My Girl’ appealed more to my musical palate – but that is not a criticism of the production, just a matter of personal taste. It was different – and a brave choice for that reason – it was uplifting, light-hearted and funny.
And the range of singing voices was something to be marvelled at. Debbie McCole and Niall Conway each turned in superb performances yet again in their leading roles, while AIMS winner Sinéad Heneghan caused jaws to drop at the beauty of her voice, while other veteran performers, Michelle Conroy and Richard Crumlish attained their usual high standards. And, while he only had one solo musical number in his role as ‘The Mikado’, Sean Costello’s booming voice and commanding presence dominated the second act.
And then there were the new stars. Just when it seems as if Ballinrobe Musical Society is already brimming with too much talent, new members invariably come along and make a huge impression. This time it was the turn of Patrick Howley from Crossmolina, a star of numerous Nephin Players productions; Brendan Duignan, a Dubliner now living in Castlebar; and Manulla-based Mairead Coughlan, who turned in a superb performance as the formidable ‘Katisha’. All three excelled and are sure to feature in future productions.
There was a number of memorable moments in the two-hour performance, including unexpected gunshots which caused a collective jump from the audience, but the best by far was the dramatic arrival on stage from the set roof of ‘The Mikado’, preceded by his bodyguards!
The set design was wonderful, as ever, the front of house management impeccable and the professionalism of MC Trevor Watson immense. Chairman, Pat McGovern, his fellow officers and committee members can reflect on yet another job wonderfully-done and seven capacity audiences wholly satisfied.