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Ballinrobe tenor stars in Mayo musical

Sean Costello
Seán Costello

Bringing it all back home

Seán Costello is looking forward to performing in Mayo on Friday

Mike Finnerty

IT’S his voice that gives it away. Excitement. Enthusiasm. Energy. Passion.
Seán Costello has them all in abundance when he talks about singing and performing. His eyes light up, his hands start to move, and his voice projects across the room.
This is what makes him tick.
Next Friday night at the Royal Theatre in Castlebar, the Mayo man who has become one of Ireland’s best known-tenors will walk on to the stage with some life-long friends, old colleagues, and new acquaintances from his home town of Ballinrobe.
Despite a hectic schedule (which includes an album release, an upcoming ‘Tribute to Mario Lanza’, and plans for two Christmas concerts), plus the demands of running his own hairdressing business in Galway, ‘Cos’ didn’t have a moment’s hesitation when the call came.
Ballinrobe Musical Society were planning a ‘one-off’ spectacular show of all the big musical numbers. They were calling it ‘Anthems’. They needed their biggest name to come on board.
In truth, it wouldn’t have been the same without him.

MF: Did you need much persuading to sign up?
SC: “I didn’t to be honest. Any time anybody asks you to go and sing the very best solos from all the very best shows that were written, and all you’ve got to do is rehearse and show up with a live orchestra in a fabulous theatre, that’s enough persuasion.
“Timing is always tight because there’s a lot of different shows in between, and travelling around the country doing lots of bits and pieces, but there are some very persuasive personalities behind Ballinrobe Musical Society. And if they’re behind it, then I’m in, 100%.”

MF: What can people expect from ‘Anthems’?
SC: “If you want an unforgettable evening of musical treats, there will be no better. It would be comparable to watching the BBC Proms. You don’t get better than that.
“It’s live orchestra, live singers, singing the very, very best hits from the best shows that were done in Ballinrobe, plus in Broadway and the West End. You can’t but have a wonderful show.
“The calibre of people who are performing in this concert, the way it’s constructed, doesn’t happen very often. To get it live, on one night, is some achievement.
“Ballinrobe Musical Society have managed to get most of the original performers, who did the original shows, to give us those great numbers again.
“I would generally see shows like this in Dublin, Cork and Galway; they’re done because they know they’re guaranteed the big audiences.
“Ballinrobe know they can do it, they can pull it off, that’s the mindset of the Society now. We can do it, and we will do it.”

MF: You’ve got a lot of projects on the go at the moment. Where do you get your energy?
SC: “The [hairdressing] business is my day job. We’re in a difficult time at the moment but that’s what I know, that’s what I do, and I love it.
“Where do I get the time and the energy? It’s just in me, I can’t do anything about it.
“You can keep pushing it away but it just keeps coming back and back. I love it. The audiences love it. I’ve got more back out of music than I’ve ever put into it.
“To do something that you love, get people to come and be entertained, and get them to thank you for entertaining them, is very special. I always say, ‘It’s my pleasure’.
“I love singing in the big Opera Houses, I’ve been lucky enough to perform in all of them. Singing at home just isn’t the same! You can’t buy an applause, you have to earn it.”

MF: What’s your next target, your next big goal?
SC: “To keep the business successful because that’s the foundation of everything. That has allowed me over the years to put on my own performances and do my own shows.
“I’d also like to have an ‘Evening with Seán Costello’ singing all my favourite songs from the different genres; musical to classical to Irish to all the different pieces. I think it’s possible to give people a little bit of everything.
“I love the Irish songs. I perform every week on ‘Trad On The Prom’ in Galway and people love it.”

MF: Of all the songs you sing, what’s your favourite?
SC: “Danny Boy has to be one, it’s one of the first I ever sang. I’m really enjoying songs by Brendan Graham like ‘You Raise Me Up’ and ‘Ellis Island’. They’re great stories of Ireland.
“On the musical side, ‘This Is The Moment’ gave me a great lift when I first did my own shows. ‘Love Changes Everything’ is another wonderful big Broadway song.

MF: What would you say to people thinking of going on Friday night?
SC: “Don’t meet anybody on the street and say, ‘I’m sorry I missed it’. Because you will have missed it!”

Name: Seán Costello
Age: 41
Born: Ballinrobe
Lives: Galway
Did you know? He has won 5 AIMS ‘Best Male Voice’ awards.