Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The All Star Wars - a hurling musical at Cork Opera House

Linda Gough Obi Wan Camogie
There were resonances with I Keano the musical in this production  we  recently saw at the Cork Opera House subtitled,  An Epic Saga of Hurleys, Heroes and Hang Sangwiches. Here the separate spheres of music and hurling  collide in a highly  entertaining evening.
Hugh Cullen

The ALL STAR WARS follows the adventures of Hugh Cullen, family man, club man and descendent of -you guessed it- Cú Culainn. Any musical featuring a hefty middle-aged hero is already onto a winner in our book.

Our hero with the Chicks & Sticks
After getting a knock on the head from a hurley, Hugh Cullen is visited from the future by the enigmatic Obi Wan Camogie played by Linda Gough.  The promotional material promises  'what  ensues from Obi Wan Camogie’s apparition to Hugh is two hours of top shelf comedy script, punctuated by fun filled comedic musical production numbers and hilarious audio visual sequences'  and I certainly wouldn't disagree with that analysis.  Writers Kevin McCormack,  who also plays Hugh Cullen, and Bryan Flynn present a variety of thinly disguised personalities  from the world of hurling; players,  pundits, commentators and managers.  The cast of Dragons Den or should I say  'panel of entrepreneurs' were  ripe for parody and are drawn into the lampooning pool. The cast of  local characters are reminiscent of Ballymagash inhabitants with the parish priest, the Minor B teamates, the GAA widow etc

Richie Hayes clad in pink velvet track suit plays the dance mad son intent on perfecting his X Factor routines but upstages himself  by a thinly disguised  impersonation of Davy Fitz including a spoof of  the infamous YouTube Leak from the dressing room.
Richie Hayes play 'Davy Fitz'
Davy Fitz's rant captured perfectly by Hayes

The helter skelter action is punctuated with very funny songs in pastiche mode with recorded backing tracks of arrangements by David Hayes although ensemble numbers were  a tad overamplified for my liking.  The production featured very clever use of video insets and we loved Kevin McCormack's take on Dragon's Den occupants.  There are several cameos by  commentators Micheal O Muiracheartaigh and 'Smarty' Morrissey  via video link. We loved   Lady GAA GAA's hairdo a la Princess Leila with Sliothars in place of plaits.  The fast paced production was directed by theatrical wizard  Bryan Flynn.

Writer and Director Bryan Flynn

Hurling  afficionados in our party from Waterford and Cork declared that the hurling references were spot on and they  and loved the humour, characterisation and how the writers captured the essence of the great game. They identified closely  with the cri de coeur monologue at the end that applauded coaches of  Saturday morning juveniles and poked mild derision at the 'yummy mummies' arriving in tinted windowed SUVs who dropped their kids and at the gates to the pitch and dashed away.

This was a musical rural Ireland could take to its heart and in some senses hit the mark missed by      D'unbelievables in their recent show. At the heart of both productions is the  gentle lampooning  of  rural community life  but here the humour   was firmly placed in a contemporary  context.  This show should have a longer shelf life than I Keano which drew on the  events of one particular season.

Fans of Waterford man Bryan Flynn will never forgive him if it doesn't do a run in his native county with stalwarts Riche Hayes and Linda Gough in the cast. Deise fans will lap it up despite the jokes at their expense. (Why is Waterford called the Déise? Because THEYshudda  won this and Theyshudda'  won that!). I believe plans are afoot to bring it to Waterford in the Autumn,

There was a surreal mingling of audience and stage personas as several pundits and commentators were spotted in the Crush bar during the interval.
We were delighted to meet Bryan Flynn after the show and great to see him building his national reputation in the musical. world. I remember well his early stage ventures on the stage in the Theatre Royal Waterford. He tells me that his musical  Michael Collins may also be on the way back. I am  and still waiting for an opportunity to hear his musical Pentimenti of which I have heard wonderful reports.

Best wishes to all involved. Highly recommended !

Don’t miss this epic saga of Hurleys, Heroes and Hang Sangwidges!!

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