Friday 17 November 2017

This is Ireland's answer to Blood Brothers - Angela's Ashes: The Musical

‘Angela’s Ashes: The Musical’ cast members Emmet Byrne (Malachy Junior), Jacinta Whyte (Angela), Marty Maguire (Malachy), Clare Barrett (GrandMa) and Eoin Cannon (Frank). Photo: Patrick O’Leary
‘Angela’s Ashes: The Musical’ cast members Emmet Byrne (Malachy Junior), Jacinta Whyte (Angela), Marty Maguire (Malachy), Clare Barrett (GrandMa) and Eoin Cannon (Frank). Photo: Patrick O’Leary
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Think Angela’s Ashes and you generally don’t think of laugh out loud comedic gold and slapstick dance routines.

In fact, the Guardian dubbed author Frank McCourt the ‘father of misery memoir’.

But producer of Angela Ashes: The Musical, Pat Moylan, believes the 1999 film has tainted our collective memory of the Pulitzer Prize winning book.

Ms Moylan says the book is filled with moments of hilarity, and believes the stage show will be much more truthful to the book than Sir Alan Parker’s film.

Moylan also points out that many musicals have depressing subject matter.

For example, Cabaret was set during the fall of the Weimar Republic, Spring Awakening features suicide and abuse, Oliver charts an orphaned child falling in with a gang of murderers and pickpockets and Les Mis could hardly be described as a laugh riot.

“Angela’s Ashes: The Musical is similar in many ways to Blood Brothers,” she said.

“People have asked me, ‘Why are you doing such a miserable book?’ but I say look at Les Miserables.

“And there weren’t many laughs in Phantom of the Opera.

“Oliver is another of those great musicals that comes from poverty, the same with Annie.

“A lot of them are rooted in situations quite similar to the one we’re portraying.”

McCourt’s memoir has sold over 10 million copies world wide and Moylan believes the show will be a hit with Irish audiences.

“A lot of Irish families had alcoholic fathers and faced unemployment,” she said.

“And there are so many Irish rites of passage in the play – like your first Holy Communion, and skipping Irish Dancing classes to spend the six pence at the pictures to see James Cagney.”

Well-known West End singer and actress Jacinta Whyte takes one of the leading roles in the play as Frank’s mother.

Emmet Byrne who most recently starred in Striking Out alongside Amy Huberman will play Frank’s brother Malachy Jnr.

Angela’s Ashes: The Musical will play Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from July 18th-30th and will also have dates at Limerick’s Lime Tree Theatre from July 6th-15th.

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