Thursday 29 September 2016

We're getting married in the morning

Ding dong, the bells are gonna chime for Mikey Brett, who played a role at the wedding of Kermit and Miss Piggy, and his writer fiance, Barry McStay

Published 31/08/2015 | 02:30

We do: Barry McStay from Kildare and Mikey Brett from Leicestershire will tie the knot before 90 guests at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. Photo: David Conachy.
We do: Barry McStay from Kildare and Mikey Brett from Leicestershire will tie the knot before 90 guests at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. Photo: David Conachy.

Englishman Mikey Brett, 28, always said he wasn't "the marrying kind," but when Barry McStay, 30, from Kildare proposed to him onstage at the New London Theatre in Covent Garden in 2012, he changed his mind. At the time, Mikey was working on War Horse, and Barry enlisted the company manager's help in ensuring that Mikey was in the auditorium, on the pretext that he was to show some guests around.

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The guys' favourite song, Us by Regina Spektor, started playing, and then Barry appeared onstage in the spotlight. He beckoned a confused Mikey up, went down on one knee and popped the question. "How could you say no?" says Mikey. "It was ridiculously romantic, and at that point I knew I really did want to marry Barry. He's very persuasive."

The wedding will take place tomorrow in front of 90 guests in the banqueting hall at a Georgian manor, Hatfield House, in Hertfordshire. A large contingent from Ireland will be attending, including Barry's parents John and Clodagh, who run Oaklawn Stud, and his brothers Martin and Killian, who work with horses in England and America, respectively.

Barry became interested in drama when he boarded at Clongowes Wood College, and after a gap year in Australia, he studied English and history at Trinity College. He joined the college drama society, Players, and decided to pursue a career in acting. A friend recommended seeking advice online from Mikey, who was doing a stint in War Horse at that time also.

Shortly afterwards, Barry was staying with a friend in London for a few days. He went to see War Horse and met up with Mikey afterwards. "I thought he was incredibly beautiful," says Barry, of that first meeting in August 2009. "He's extremely witty and clever, which I found attractive, and he brought me backstage and showed me everything. We went out for a walk afterwards and had a kiss in the rain."

The guys continued seeing one another but decided that they didn't want a long-distance relationship. Barry moved to London in February 2010, and embarked on an MA at East 15 drama school. While this was Barry's first relationship with a man, Mikey had been out for years. "I only came out after I met Mikey, although I would have known I was gay for a long time," says Barry. "My parents were a little taken aback as I had a few girlfriends in the past. They were very supportive, and just wanted me to meet someone who makes me happy."

Mikey grew up in Leicestershire and has three sisters, Becca, Hanni and Rachael. His parents Frank and Helen's marriage ended when he was a teenager, and they have new partners now, Ros and Graham, and all is very amicable. While Mikey's dad works for the county council, his mum is artistic and is doing the flowers for the wedding. Mikey went to drama school at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama to train as an actor, and has also been involved in puppeteering since he was 16.

He led a movement team in the Oscar-winning film Gravity, and was a puppeteer in The Muppets Take Manhattan film, where he had the Snowths (the furry pink creatures who sing the "do doo do doo doo" back-up vocals in the classic Muppet song 'Mahna Mahna') on each hand at Kermit and Miss Piggy's wedding. Surely he must be devastated that the star couple recently announced their separation? "They'll definitely get back together," he says, confidently. "They're like the Ross and Rachel of the puppet world."

Miley, 28, came out when he was 15, as he attended a very relaxed and diverse school that worked to ensure students' welfare, and several guys were also out. His parents and sisters were also fine with it. So what attracted him to Barry? "He has a very twinkly look to him with this cheeky little face, and when I met him in person, I realised he was this stunning, kind man," says Mikey. "I was attracted to how intelligent he was, and how clever and interesting. He had this very different life to me, as I had this weird artistic, bohemian background, and he came from a place of racehorse breeding and his school looks like Hogwarts. We had a lot of differences, but saw the world in the same way. We would both love to become dads in the future as we love kids."

The day after the wedding, Barry will fly back to Dublin as his play Our Island is about to be performed at the Tiger Dublin Fringe, having been workshopped by the Abbey at the end of 2014 - the only unsolicited script to have that treatment last year. He began writing plays to fill the time between acting work, and the play was inspired by being an Irish guy in England. Directed by Maisie Lee, it's set in London and is about the strong attachment you have to home when you're away. "It's seeing a gay couple in a domestic situation where they're like any couple trying to make a life together," says Barry, who flew back to vote in the marriage equality referendum. "That situation hasn't been seen much in Irish theatre before."

Mikey is immensely proud of Barry's writing, and jokes that one of the reasons he's marrying him is that he's a fantastic cook. "The worst thing about him is that I have become a total sports widow," he groans, "as he is mad about sports in a way that I really am not."

Barry says that while Mikey's worst quality is that he's not as tidy as he'd like, his best quality is that he makes him laugh more than anybody else, and is very witty and smart but also silly. The pair have written their own speeches and picked their outfits together, and it amuses Barry that despite his initial aversion to marriage, Mikey is now excited and nervous and simply dying for tomorrow.

Our Island stars Siobhan Cullen, Rob Malone, Jamie O'Neill, Peter Corboy, Bairbre Ni Chaoimh and Martin Maguire and will run from September 6 - 13 at 9pm at Project Arts Centre, as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe, which runs from September 7 - 20. Book now online at www.fringefest.com or call 1850 FRINGE

Sunday Independent

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