Thursday 22 March 2018

'It's a big honour to be in Commitments,' says Kevin Kennedy

Kevin Kennedy
Kevin Kennedy
Roddy Doyle
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

It's the iconic film that put Dublin's northside on the map, but when the stage version of The Commitments arrives in the capital after a two-year run in London's West End, it will be crossing the Liffey for the bright lights of the Bord Gais Energy Theatre.

The show will see English- born actor Kevin Kennedy, who played Curly Watts in Coronation Street, taking on the role of Jimmy Rabbitte's dad when the curtain goes up next month.

Kennedy said it was a "privilege and a big honour" to land the part from one of Ireland's most celebrated films.

He admitted there was a certain nervousness about performing to an Irish audience for the first time, but he is keen to do the role justice.

"There's a responsibility, not just to the audience but to ourselves as actors, musicians and singers to do the best job we can and do what we can, which is to take the story off the page and make the audience buy into the characters, even though they may know a lot about them," said Kennedy.

"We still have to grab them and pull them in as there's people out there who may not have heard of Roddy Doyle or the Commitments."

When it came to mastering the Dublin accent, Kennedy said it was a big help that his mum is from Foley Street in the heart of the north inner city, while her family were from Artane.

"I was brought up around my gran and my grandad and the Irish are great storytellers, especially when they're away from Ireland," he told the Herald.

Roddy Doyle
Roddy Doyle

"So when I was a kid, all I got were stories about Dublin, and 90pc of the stories were very, very funny. The rest were tragic due to the history of the place, but there was always a story to tell and the music was very important."

Written by former teacher Doyle in 1986 as part of the Barrytown trilogy, the 1991 movie version went on to become a cult classic and grossed more than €12m in America.

Kennedy said he "devoured" Doyle's books and the movie when they were first released and had no problem with the dialect.

"I loved it - it's uniquely Dublin, but I knew exactly what they were talking about, even all the swear words as I'd heard them all before," he said.


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