Stars set the stage for soul encore
The stars of the music-comedy film The Commitments have held a secret meeting in a Dublin restaurant to consider a reunion to mark the 20th anniversary of the Irish-made movie.
Andrew Strong, Dave Finnnegan, Dick Massey, Angeline Ball and Glen Hansard were among those who booked out the new private dining room at the upmarket L'Ecrivain restaurant on Baggot Street.
They were also joined by Bronagh Gallagher, Felim Gormley, Ken McCluskey, Robert Arkins and Michael Aherne.
In fact, the only ones who couldn't attend the big reunion night were actors Maria Doyle Kennedy and Johnny 'Joey the Lips' Murphy, as well as the legendary director Alan Parker who made the hit movie about the Dublin soul band.
One onlooker revealed: "They all met up in the bar for a drink beforehand and there was an awful lot of hugging and kissing going on. They all seemed genuinely delighted to be meeting up again. And they were all in great form. They then moved up to a private dining room. They had a few drinks alright, but it wasn't a wild night. Most of them have children now and said they had to be home fairly early. So they certainly weren't hitting the nightclubs.
"Bronagh Gallagher (Bernie McGloughlin) and Angeline Ball (Imelda Quirke) both looked fantastic, very glamorous. Andrew Strong (Deco Cuffe) is completely bald now, but he's a very good-looking guy. He was only 16 when he signed up to make the movie. And sax player Felim Gormely (Dean Fay) is still as skinny and cool-looking as ever."
Many of the customers in L'Ecrivain were gobsmacked when they saw the cast casually having a drink at the downstairs bar. They approached managers and bar staff asking if it really was The Commitments cast.
An insider added: "Although it's 20 years since the movie was made, they all still look great. Everybody could still recognise them anyhow! A few people even approached them to shake hands and wish them well."
The day before their reunion meal, Dave Finnegan revisited his old haunt of Bruxelles on Harry Street, where he used to hang out with his old rockabilly bands The Boneshakers and Shark Bait.
He told drinkers there that it was his first time back in Dublin in 10 years, and he now lives in the north of England. But he wouldn't reveal anything about any possible future Commitments plans.
And Andrew Strong returned from his European base to join his dad onstage for a couple of songs at last weekend's Temple House music festival in Sligo, later returning to Dublin.
It is believed the band discussed the idea of a big gig together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the movie. But everyone was staying tight-lipped about any onstage reunion.
But there is plenty of interest in them performing together again, and a Facebook campaign with over 12,000 fans is underway to get them to perform a one-off gig, possibly in Dublin's 02.
Released in 1991, The Commitments was based on the Roddy Doyle book of the same name, while the film script was written by Ian Clement and Dick La Frenais.
When asked recently if they would be up for a reunion gig, both London-based Angeline Ball and Dick Massey (Billy Mooney) said they would definitely be interested.
Angeline said: "If somebody came along and offered us the right package, then we'd all consider it. Nobody has fallen off the face of the earth and everybody is talking to each other. So who knows?"
Drummer Dick added: "All of the original cast would need to be involved, we couldn't have it diluted by only a few people turning up."