Loreto College - Coleraine, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
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Pupils at the Primary Schools' Matinee performance meeting the Head Girl and Head Boy - View Full Size Image
Pupils at the Primary Schools' Matinee performance meeting the Head Girl and Head Boy
Cast members with the Male Chorus in the production of Guys and Dolls - View Full Size Image
Cast members with the Male Chorus in the production of Guys and Dolls
A scene from the production of Guys and Dolls - View Full Size Image
A scene from the production of Guys and Dolls
The Chorus Line of dancers in the production of Guys and Dolls - View Full Size Image
The Chorus Line of dancers in the production of Guys and Dolls
Senior Chorus members in the production of Guys and Dolls - View Full Size Image
Senior Chorus members in the production of Guys and Dolls
15/10/2011 STUNNING ‘GUYS AND DOLLS’ AT LORETO COLLEGE COLERAINE

A week-long run of the well-known musical ‘Guys and Dolls’ was a highlight of the Autumn Term at Loreto College Coleraine from 10th-14th October 2011.

With two matinees, the first for pupils from local Primary Schools and the second for Loreto College’s own Year 8-10 students, followed by four evening performances to packed houses, the hard-working cast, crew and directors of this lively, happy show provided tremendous entertainment for all those lucky enough to see it.  Directed by Mrs Oonah McEwan (Head of Drama) and Musical Director Mr Howard Gillespie, ‘Guys and Dolls’ offered something for everyone: humour, pathos, romance, the redemption of a way of life and the winning through of true love.  Along the way, audience enjoyed some superb performances from a cast whose levels of talent and dedication belied their youthful age.

A set of two alternate casts took the leading parts.  Both Niamh Meehan (Y13) and Ruth Bleakley (Y12) brought a serene steadfastness to the role of Sergeant Sarah Brown, each combining beauty of voice with a calm stage persona and showing a mature judgement in the development of Sarah’s complex character.  As Sarah’s love interest, Sky Masterson, both John McLister (Y13) and Darryl Wills (Y14) were suave and convincing as the gambler-turned-good: both Darryl and John produced subtle performances in their interpretations of a man whose interests and principles shift as his heart is unexpectedly won.  As a foil to this couple we have Miss Adelaide Adams (of the Hot Box Dance Troupe) and Mr Nathan Detroit.  Appearing as this couple at alternate performances were Una-Marie Darragh and Ruairi Mooney (both Y13), and Maria Mooney and Conor Doherty-Greene (both Y14).  All four combined comic timing with genuine pathos as the long-term couple who hadn’t quite got around to getting married through the course of a fourteen-year engagement.  Both Adelaide/Nathan couples lit up the stage with witty delivery, comic timing and a convincing chemistry of partnership. 

Other stars of the Loreto production of ‘Guys and Dolls’ included Ben Levy (Y12) as Nicely Nicely Johnston: in a comic part, Ben combined some fine vocal performances with a witty portrayal of an endearingly eccentric character on the fringes of the New York gambling fraternity.  Among the other gamblers there were some stand-out leading performances from Fergus Kelly (Y12), Conor Carlin (Y12) and Lucas Levy (Y11) as well as Conor Donnelly (Y14) as the occasionally menacing visitor Big Jule from Chicago.  Trying to keep these men (and many others) in some kind of order was the occasionally bewildered, trench-coated police officer Lieutenant Brannigan, played by Peter Reid (Y14), who miraculously combined the long-limbed walk of Basil Fawlty with a knowing air of the officer often outwitted, which was implied in a resigned style of delivery.  Adored by the gamblers and admired by the audience were the dancers at the Hot Box Cabaret: led by Alex Brownlow (Y14), Katie Burns (Y14) and Rosanna McAleese (Y12), the dancers performed with great aplomb and glamour through a series of numbers through the course of the show.  Showing the ensemble strength of the cast, these dancers were just one of five choruses: audiences were hugely impressed by the boys’ chorus (gangsters and gamblers but remarkably adept at both singing and dancing), the Mission Band, and the Senior and Junior girls’ choruses throughout the show.

At the head of the Mission Band was Arvide Abernathy, and Shane Phillips (Y13) brought a seriousness and a gravitas to this role which was a challenge to such a young actor.  Alongside him was Olivia McCullagh (Y12) as General Cartwright of the Save-A-Soul Foundation: Olivia managed to seem by turns terrifying, compassionate and even witty in a memorable cameo.  Ciara Brankin (Y14) also shone as  another Mission leader, always ready with a cup of coffee for Arvide or a piece of advice for Sergeant Sarah. 

‘Guys and Dolls’, with its message of the redemption of love and forgiveness, was an uplifting show for the darkening autumn evenings.  With well-known songs such as ‘Luck be a Lady’, ‘A Bushel and a Peck’, ‘If I were a Bell’, ‘Sit Down you’re Rocking the Boat’ and ‘Marry the Man Today’, the Loreto production was colourful, joyful and often exuberant, combining tremendous energy of ensemble performance with subtlety of leading actors and some really exceptional singing performances.

Mr Michael James, Principal of Loreto College, paid tribute to all members of the cast, crew, orchestra, backstage and front of house teams and in particular to members of staff Mrs Oonah McEwan (Director), Mr Howard Gillespie (Musical Director), Mrs Katrina Brolly (Costumes Manager), Mrs Lorraine McCool (Props Manager), Mr Paul Cunning (Scenic Artist) and Ms Julie Wilson (Stage Manager) on a production of an exceptionally high standard.