West End calls as 'Commitments' hopefuls take centre stage
IT was a homecoming that brought all the excitement of the original back to a new generation.
The air was alive with excitement and jittery nerves, vibrating with the sound of vocal exercises and tuning guitars, as hundreds of young hopefuls turned up to try out for the upcoming West End production of 'The Commitments'.
Some were old pros, some had amateur experience and all had levels of enthusiasm that were palpable in the tense air of the queue lining up to show producers what they had.
The new stage version of the Roddy Doyle novel that was turned into an iconic movie (inset) will start rehearsals in August. And the London production team were thrilled with the turnout for the open auditions held over the weekend at the Troubadour rehearsal studios on Dublin's Richmond Road.
Casting director David Grindrod revealed they had already taken down a list of potentials to go on to the next stage of auditions.
"We came here in search of authenticity and we've found it," he said, adding that details like accents were "so important" in order for the feel of the production to be right.
"We're not looking to cast all the roles here – just some of them – but the Dublin people can make sure everyone else's accents are right," he laughed.
He revealed that he was a big fan of 'The Commitments' movie. "I grew up with it," he said.
Hannah Troy (21) from Lucan in Dublin – a teacher at the Westside Performing Arts school in west Dublin and a hopeful at the auditions – welcomed the arrival of the London team, saying it was great to give a chance to Irish singers.
"There's a lot of talent here but there's no industry," she said, pointing out that even when stage productions of musicals are shown in Ireland, they are performed by English casts.
Eleanor Byrne (18) from Knocklyon in Dublin was nervously preparing to go in, having just met with fellow hopeful Carla Foley (20) from Lucan. It emerged they had planned to sing the same song for their audition, so decided to team up to rehearse.
Primary teacher John D Ruddy (24) from Letterkenny, Co Donegal, had travelled to Dublin especially for the auditions.
"I've done amateur theatre but this would be life-changing," he said.
Gary Tighe (20) from Tallaght revealed that he had some experience, having been on 'The Voice', which aired last night.
James Sheridan (20) from Crumlin in Dublin – also a contestant on 'The Voice' – said not having the tv cameras around took some of the pressure off – but just some.