Wednesday 22 May 2019

Magical night as Prosper and Rush school students give spectacular show


Catherine Reilly

'Are you ready to come on this musical journey with us?' John Paul McDermott, a service-user at Prosper Fingal disability organisation, asked the packed audience in the Millbank Theatre in Rush as he and his cast-mates staged a spectacular 'Night at the Musicals'.

And what a journey it was. A night of singing, dancing, fun and friendship was brilliantly staged on by the Transition Year (TY) students of St Joseph's Secondary School in Rush, and adults accessing the local Prosper Fingal day service.

Prosper Fingal provides services and supports to around 300 adults with an intellectual disability across north Dublin.

The annual collaboration, now in its seventh year, has garnered national media coverage for the power of its message of social inclusion.

Each year, at the beginning of rehearsals, the TY students and the 'Prosper Players' are 'buddied-up' and remain as each other's companions through the process, which culminates in a musical extravaganza.

Prosper Player Therese Fogarty, one of the narrators, told the audience that 'all the Prosper Players really like having a buddy'. She said the Prosper Players feel 'it is a great opportunity to get to know the students', as she introduced a performance of 'You've Got a Friend in Me'.

The ensemble also did a rendition of 'A Thousand Years' while using the lámh communication tool, which narrator John Paul McDermott explained was a means of communicating with people who may have difficulties in this regard. 'Lámh is actively used in Prosper Fingal and we wanted to teach the TY students, and no better way than through a song,' he said.

There were many fine performances on a night when everyone was a star, including students Seán O'Dea and Kadem Price who injected great energy into 'Everybody' by The Blues Brothers. There were a number of brilliant vocal performances, including by students Rachel Dillon and Lauren Cullen Browne, while Prosper Player Kim Doyle impressed with her poised ballet dancing.

Prosper Player Stephen Dowdall was sensational, particularly his singing of 'Bring Him Home' from Les Misérables, when candles were brought on stage to remember Prosper Fingal service-users who have passed away.

The ensemble were dressed as characters from musical productions including Prosper Player Anthony Conroy (lion- Wizard of Oz) and student Afua Anno Asante (Deloris Von Cartier - Sister Act). Students Liam Cobb and Sadhbh Eddison read-out essays describing their positive experience of the project.

'Inclusion in the context of the Prosper Fingal musical has allowed everyone to take part no matter what disability they may have,' said Liam.

Sadhbh said: 'I am so glad to be taking part in this programme, it has taught me so much about inclusion and how it can deeply affect people in such a positive way.'

TY coordinator at St Joseph's, Ciarán Reade, said 'the relationship we have formed with Prosper is really something - magical is the only word I can think of.'

Fingal Independent