MUSE Productions are in the final stages of rehearsals for their musical ‘Our House’, which will be performed at St Patrick’s Comprehensive from November 2-5.
Our House is based on the music of Madness, the English ska band who achieved huge success in the late 1970s and early ‘80s.
Martin McNelis is one of the founding members of Muse and is directing Our House, a musical he is very enthusiastic about.
“It’s a wonderful, young musical and that’s probably what attracted us to it. We have a lot of young people in Shannon who have come out of Eclipse stage school and we wanted to do something that would utilise all that talent.
“This is a show that has a young cast, but it’ll also appeal to an older age group because the music of Madness is very well known and holds a lot of special memories for people.”
It is the story of young Joe Casey and a life-altering decision.
“It’s a really interesting story. In a lot of cases what we call jukebox musicals, where you take the music of a band or artist and put them into a story that’s invented after the fact, normally the story is kind of weak, but this one is really, really strong.
“The concept is very clever, the idea is that on his 16th birthday this kid makes a decision. There’s a sliding doors moment and his life goes in one direction, but we get to see how his life would have went if he didn’t make that decision.
“We get to see his life going down the good track and his life going down the bad track. It’s a wonderful piece and there’s a really, really young, energetic, vibrant cast. I’d say 70% of the cast are under 25.”
The final show will be the culmination of a large group effort.
“There’d be over 30 on stage and off stage there’s the usual massive crew helping out to do costumes, lighting, sound, set construction is huge for this one, it’s a very big set with a lot of moving parts, so that’s a massive job and Ted Germaine has been working on it.”
Plans to stage it have been around for a few years at this stage.
“The truth be told we started back in 2020, we had intended doing this in November 2020 but obviously the pandemic hit. It has been kind of bubbling under ever since then.
“The choreographer is Pamela Glynn. She’s a wonderful choreographer from Limerick, and it’s a very dance heavy show.
“We got together with the musical director Mary Rose McNally from Thurles and cast it earlier in the year. We kind of started straight after the summer, we hit the ground running and it’s pretty much eight weeks start to finish.
“It has been pretty compressed, pretty intense, and in the meantime we also put on A Night in November, with Aidan Fox, for two runs. Aidan is also in this show playing the boss, Mr Pressman. So it has been a very busy couple of months.”
Martin’s son Conor is in the lead role, while Aidan Fox’s daughter Julita plays his love interest, with the two actors having won awards for performances with the UL Musical Theatre Society recently.
On a personal level, it’s great for Martin to be working so closely with his son.
“It’s absolutely fantastic. Now, as you can imagine, when you’re dealing with close family members, there can be tension sometimes and friction at home, but we’ve managed to get through it fairly good naturedly this time!” he laughs.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.