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Members of Ennis Musical Society in rehearsals for a recent production. Photograph by John Kelly

AIMS success for Ennis Musical Society

THEY may had to cut this year’s show short due to Covid-19, but the Ennis Musical Society still managed to hit the high notes at this year’s AIMS awards.
The local group, who had to cancel this year’s production of Seussical the Musical just days into its run, took home the title of Best Programme at the annual awards which Rachael Culligan, chairperson of Ennis Musical Society has described as the “equivalent of the Tony Awards” in amateur musical society circles.
The society had a total of three nominations in the competition, also coming in runners up in the Best Actor category for Brian Roche and Best Singer for Hazel Park.
“We were delighted with the win, and we were delighted to get nominated in three categories because it’s not easy to get an AIMS nomination. The AIMS amongst the musical creative circles is quite highly regarded, it’s the amateur equivalent to the Tony Awards.”
She paid tribute to all those involved in the production of the programme particularly former Clare Champion journalist Carol Byrne. Carol wasn’t the only ‘Champion connection with the win, with photographer John Kelly supplying a number of striking images for the programme which also featured photos by Kehlan Kirwan.
“We’re so proud of Hazel, Brian and Carol and all the team behind the programme for getting the nomination and getting Ennis noticed.”
Unlike previous years, the 2020 AIMS were held online because of Covid-19 restrictions. Rachel admits that this was “strange” however the members of the society managed to make a celebratory night of it. “It was all done on Zoom online and I think the AIMS committee just went over and above, overall they did a spectacular job.
“We are allowed have gatherings of up to six so there were a few scatterings of six of the musical society around different parts of Clare. I had a few people socially distanced at my house and it was strange, but we made the most of it. The one thing about the musical society is it’s just such a great group and we were all in contact with each other, all night we were all ringing each other or on zoom calls to each other. It was different and it was strange, it wasn’t the same, but spirits were high and we were happy and we were excited and we were thrilled that we won something.” This included choreographer Edina Erdei, musical director Shane Farrell and director Aidan Fox.
“If we didn’t have them bringing us all together there would be no awards, we were so delighted this year, we just had the Dream Team.”
The win has provided some consolation to the society who were left counting the costs of having to cancel the show in March and are still unsure of when they will be able to tread the boards once again.
The Ennis Musical Society had hoped to bring Seussical the Musical back to the stage in March 2021, but ongoing Covid-19 restrictions mean this is unlikely with the group now aiming for September 2021.
“Last March we had managed to do the matinee and opening night of the show and then we were shut down which left us in debt €14,000. But thanks to fundraising and an anonymous donor who donated a huge lump sum to us we managed to recoup that €14,000 so we are kind of back at zero. We were hoping to restage Seussical the Musical this March but because of the restrictions even if we were at level one we wouldn’t be allowed to have enough people in one space to restage the show. We are bitterly disappointed but what can we do? We were hoping by January things would be back to normal and the arts would be able to kind of get going again but unfortunately it seems these are in place until at least April, we wouldn’t even be able to rehearse.
“The problem is because it’s a musical society and there’s so many people, even if we were allowed to go on there would be so many of us with the orchestra and the backstage crew that we’d be over the limit before we even let the audience in.
“We do know that the West End and Broadway are planning to go back September 2021. And I assume if they can go back, we can all go back. But you just don’t know what’s going to happen. Certainly it won’t be until April before we will be able to consider anything and it’s disappointing. It would be terrible to go a year without Ennis Musical Society doing anything. So maybe if restrictions ease in April we can look at doing something in September or October and that we still get to perform in 2021. That’s the dream. That’s the goal. We’re just hoping, that’s all we can do is hope.”

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