Friday 18 October 2019

Declan Cashin: Reel Life

Declan Cashin

To London's West End for a breakfast-time chat with Roddy Doyle about the upcoming stage musical adaptation of his classic novel (and, arguably, classic-er 1991 film) The Commitments.

Reel Life met the author in the show's future home, the Palace Theatre, currently housing Singin' In The Rain (which, come to think of it, would be a decent title for any musical set in Dublin).

It turns out Roddy wasn't always the biggest fan of musicals. "In my house, if The Sound of Music comes on, all male members of the house, including the dog, walk out," he explains.

"And the female members stay and cry. If we stay and sneer, we're told to get out.

"It was the same when I was a kid – any musical came on, I was out of the room. The exception was West Side Story. It had more going for it because of the gang fights, I suppose."

However, Doyle became a late convert to the genre when he caught certain productions with his kids on regular trips to London.

"With Jersey Boys, for example [about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons], the songs were terrific, but the songs didn't interrupt the story any more than the story interrupted the music," he said.

"Both flowed at the same time. The rhythm of the songs was maintained the whole way through. I thought it was fantastic that you could tell a story that way.

"Similarly, I loved the Billy Elliot film, but within two minutes of watching the stage show, it was like the film didn't exist.

"It was a brand new thing. I was baffled that they wanted to do another version of The Producers – but then I saw it and it was like a fresh show. They, above all others, nudged me in a direction I wanted to go."

The play, much like Alan Parker's movie adaptation, will have a mostly unknown cast, and Doyle added that this incarnation will be set in the year he wrote the book – 1986.

"If I was to try to set the story today, a lot of it would fall away immediately because Jimmy Rabbitte would have a smartphone," Doyle said.

"He'd be able to sit and organise everything to do without having to come into contact with anybody – and that's the end of the story."

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Q The Light House Cinema in Dublin is going Baz Luhrmann crazy this month in the run-up to the release of his 3D take on The Great Gatsby on May 16.

Luhrmann's back catalogue will be getting an airing (Strictly Ballroom this Sunday, Romeo + Juliet on May 8 and 12, and Moulin Rouge (inset) on May 15 and 19, while F Scott Fitzgerald's text is the pick for this month's Light House Cinema Book Club.

Read the book and then pop along for a screening of the movie and a discussion in the bar afterwards on May 27.

Follow them on Twitter @CinemaBookClub or Facebook

Q One final shout out to the Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival, which kicks off next Friday and runs to May 19.

It's a programme of masterclasses, workshops and public film screenings geared towards 12 to 25-year-olds.

The screenings include modern classics like Little Shop of Horrors, Empire of The Sun, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Karate Kid, Robocop, and Bugsy Malone.


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