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Westport TY students thank ABBA for the music

Westport TY students thank ABBA for the music

Ciara Galvin


Transition Year students from Sacred Heart Secondary School and Rice College are busy getting ready for their joint production of ‘Thank You For The Music’, a musical based on songs by ABBA.
Dropping by the Sacred Heart Secondary School last week, The Mayo News caught up with some ‘dancing queens’ and ‘Fernandos’ as they were preparing for the upcoming show, which runs from October 3 to October 5.
The gymnasium was a hive of activity, with shy teenage boys learning the box step and gaggles of girls singing the songs that made ABBA a household name.
The production, which is based on the popular musical ‘Mamma Mia’, tells the story of a young girl, Sophie, who gets married on an island and invites her three possible fathers Sam, Harry and Bill to the nuptials without telling her mother Donna – all to the musical backdrop provided by ABBA’s well-known back-catalogue.
Speaking to Rice College transition year coordinator Martin Gill, he explained why the choice of musical usually depends on student numbers.
“Our choice is usually governed by numbers. We need a big production with lots of dances every year so that all students are involved as much as possible.”
Acknowledging that shyness and nerves were evident in the production’s early stages, Mr Gill said pre-show nerves were to be expected from a group that had only come together a little under a month ago.
“Some of the lads were sceptical. This is a totally different level, and they’re out of their comfort zones, but in a good way,” said Martin, adding that when any of the students hear an ABBA song in years to come they will be able to ‘think of the great time they had’.
With the ringing of Super Trouper in the background, The Mayo News spoke to some of the cast. Rebecca Duggan who plays Sophie admitted she was ‘a bit nervous’ and was ‘shocked’ when she got the lead role.
“I’ve never done anything like this … well primary school plays, but that’s about it. It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m looking forward to it,” said Rebecca. She also said that learning the songs and getting to know everyone have been the best bits so far.
Catherine Lambe, who plays Donna, said she was also looking forward to the show ‘actually starting’. “I’ve watched the film version a few times before and know some of the songs, but I’m still a bit nervous.”
Catherine admitted her surprise at her Rice College counterparts’ efforts. “I thought the lads would be ‘too cool’, but they’re getting into it. I suppose at the end of the day they want to look good on stage.”
Joe Chambers, Newport, and Tom McHale and Adam McNally both from Westport, play the three possible fathers, while Steven Cawley plays Sophie’s ‘husband-to-be’. Taken together, the lads’ moods were cool and nonchalant. The four agreed that they were most looking forward to getting on stage for the first time and performing in front of an audience.
Principal Anne Murphy described the 146 students as ‘an enthusiastic group’ and said it was great to have a link between the two schools. “There’s a lot of cooperation between the two schools. The two groups pair up on various events throughout the year including this year’s Westport Arts Festival [for an art exhibition called ‘Interpretations’]. We’re all very excited about this year’s production.”
Commenting on what it is like to coordinate 146 teenagers and an ABBA soundtrack, musical director Hazel McGlynn admitted that it was a ‘hard task’. However, she was adamant they would ‘get there in the end’. “They’re a lovely bunch, they’re shy, but I’ll work that out of them,” she said.
Ms McGlynn noted the boys were slightly harder to work with but that they were still ‘holding their own’. Referring to the students as ‘team ABBA’, she predicted that ‘Thank You For The Music’ would be a ‘tremendous show’.
The school is expecting 3,000 people to see the show over its three-night run, which also includes a matinee each day for primary schools.

HAVE YOUR SAY email ciaragalvin@mayonews.ie with your comments