Thursday 18 January 2018

At last, London cheers 1916 rebels

Cast members from '1916: The Musical' performing in London last weekend.
Cast members from '1916: The Musical' performing in London last weekend.
Ken Sweeney

Ken Sweeney

THE story of the 1916 Rising was brought to the streets of London at the weekend when a musical version of the events was performed in the West End.

'1916: The Musical' has been dubbed "'Riverdance' with guns", and follows the Irish rebellion in music and song.

Although the musical is not due to hit the stage until 2011, a segment from the show was performed to more than 2,000 people in London's Leicester Square last Sunday as part of the 'West End Live' festival.

Organised by Westminster City Council, the two-day festival featured showcases from some of the biggest musicals running in London's West End.

After performances from shows 'We Will Rock You' and 'Billy Elliott' on Sunday, the audience found itself confronted by a cast in the uniform of the Irish Citizen Army.

They performed two songs, 'Anthem' -- described as "a big chorus number" -- in which the rebels hatch their plan, and 'Bridie's Song', in which female lead Bridie, played by Adrienne Stiefel, sings of her heartbreak before embarking on a romance with British soldier 'Harry'.

"The Easter Rising of 1916 would be an unusual subject for fans of West End musicals, but the audience seemed to really take to it," said assistant producer James Logan Bates.

"We couldn't believe how warmly the two numbers were received. It was very emotional seeing and hearing the cast perform on the huge screens they had up in Leicester Square. It's given everyone a huge boost," he added.

Penned by Simon Humphreys, '1916: The Musical' is expected to open in Dublin next year before moving to the West End. Producers are hoping the musical will be successful in tours of the United States, Canada and Australia.

Irish Independent

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