THE first attempt to bring Stephen King to the stage proved a massive success at the Gaiety Theatre last night, where the premiere of 'The Shawshank Redemption' was performed.
The play stars Reg E Cathey -- who is best known for his role as Norman Wilson in the smash hit series 'The Wire' -- who takes the part of Red (played by Morgan Freeman in the film) alongside Kevin Anderson as Andy Dufresne. Anderson previously starred alongside Julia Roberts in 'Sleeping with the Enemy'.
An impromptu street performance by a Polish music group, The Busketeers, created a party mood as actors, singers, television personalities and models gathered for the show.
The play is the result of a daring effort by writers Dave Johns and Owen O'Neill to rework one of the most popular movies ever made to make it suitable for the stage.
Co-producers Pat Boylan and Breda Cashe endured a long legal process to secure the rights to King's novella, which carries the title 'Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption' -- a reference to the poster which conceals the escape route. Mr Johns said the film was "one of my favourites. That's why I wanted to do it. It's an amazing story, it captures people's imaginations."
However, not even knowing that the previews had scored five standing ovations out of five performances was enough to settle Mr Johns' nerves.
"I'm a stand-up comic and that doesn't bother me at all. Tonight I'm petrified," he confessed. Among those who attended last night's performance were actors Patrick Bergin and Rachel Kavanagh, actor and director Alan Stanford, Apres Match star Gary Cooke and singers Sinead Mulvey and Linda Martin.
'The Shawshank Redemption' continues at the Gaiety for a limited run until June 20.