Friday 20 September 2019

Three friends find perfect harmony as The Evertides

The talented trio behind one of the latest groups to make waves here tell about the cracking chemistry they feel together on stage

The Evertides. Alma Kelliher, Ruth McGill and Ruth Smith
The Evertides. Alma Kelliher, Ruth McGill and Ruth Smith

Anna Coogan

Three young women are preening and posing in a sunlit house in Ranelagh, and the atmosphere is playful as The Evertides get ready to have their photograph taken. When the talk turns to how these three talented young performers, all classically trained musicians, feel they have such cracking chemistry on stage, you just know this is no mere PR line. "The three of us sang Scarlet Ribbons at the Theatre Forum in Galway in 2011, and it was instinctive, we each knew where to come in," says Alma, 29, of the moment the girls gelled as performers.

Ruth McGill, Ruth Smith and Alma Kelliher are the real deal in that they are genuine pals who love to perform – and they want their audience to feed off their musical energy, and to leave their gigs happier than when they arrived.

Words they use to describe their onstage persona are "spiritual", "elevated" and "in communion with the audience".

It's in Alma's home that the girls are rehearsing, and which she shares with her husband, Shane O'Brien, a comedy writer and performer who makes an appearance in Irish director Lenny Abrahamson's upcoming film, Frank.

It's been a pretty big week all-round for petite Alma, a Tralee-born sound designer and composer, who plays piano and trumpet in the group, and also sings, and whose credentials include a BA in music from Trinity and an MSc in sound design from Edinburgh University.

The Sunday before our interview, she was awarded the Best Sound gong at the Irish Theatre Awards for her composition for Riverrun, a musical evocation of the voice of the river in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, and which was directed by Olwen Fouere.

"It's there on the mantelpiece," she says, pointing proudly at her trophy which stands among cards wishing her and her husband future happiness in their new home.

The Evertides is a three-part harmony group, with Alma having the 'pop-y' voice, Ruth (McGill) having the 'divine' voice, and Ruth (Smith) having the 'earthy' sound.

"A bit like Earth, Wind and Fire," jokes 34 year-old Ruth (Smith) who is the brunette in the group, which has the full complement of a red head, brunette and blonde. She plays piano and fiddle and sings with the trio.

A classical pianist who trained at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Ruth has also studied music, drama and theatre at Trinity. She topped off her qualifications with an MA in traditional performance from the University of Limerick.

Currently single, she returned from London last December, where she had been working in events management. She has been the driving force in getting the girls together on stage as The Evertides – they had their first gig in Chancery Lane Theatre in January.

"I've experience in the PR and business side of stage events so I'm bringing that to The Evertides in terms of highlighting what we're all about," explains Ruth.

"We're really enjoying ourselves on stage and I think that comes across in our energy. We want to bring the audience along with us. Our song choice is eclectic and performed in our own style, and ranges from Bruce Spingsteen to You're The One That I Want from Grease to our own original numbers," she says.

The Evertides are due to perform in Portumna, Ruth's home town to which she has returned. "I'm taking advantage of the cheaper rents than in Dublin so that I can focus on the creative side of things," she says.

Ruth (McGill), 33, is mum to the group's youngest and biggest fan – seven year-old Charlie. She originally hails from Donegal, but these days she lives with her young son in the more urban setting of Rathmines.

A classically trained soprano, Ruth's voice is described by her fellow performers as 'angelic'. As well as carrying the high heavenly notes, she also plays guitar and the ukulele with The Evertides.

Ruth has also established herself as an in-demand actress, and after graduating from the professional acting course in Trinity in 2003, has gone on to perform on stage in the Abbey, Gate and Project.

She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the recent Irish Theatre Awards for her performance as Lucy in The Threepenny Opera in the Gate Theatre.

"No, there's no boss in The Evertides, we all have very different personalities," laughs Ruth.

"I think at this stage all our egos are put aside for the good of the group. We're very honest together, and have fun together and like each other. It's the first time we've all been available to perform together, and I like to think serendipity is on our side," she says.

The Evertides are booked for three nights in June at Chancery Lane Theatre (June 12-14).

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