00:00 Saturday 12 September 2009  Written by Flor Dullea

Musical tribute night to Corks Queen of Theatre

Eileen Nolan, the founder of the Montford College of Performing Arts in 1962 is to be honoured in style at the Everyman Palace Theatre on Sunday, September 20 in a musical show entitled, An Enchanted Evening, A tribute to Eileen Nolan.

All the tickets are gone at this stage, so those lucky enough to share in the celebrations will be entertained by 200 Cork artistes, including Michael McCarthy who starred in Les Miserable in the West End and Irene Warren from Starlight Express, all past pupils of the Montfort School. Eileen Nolan affectionately known as the Queen of Theatre, is celebrating her milestone birthday (never ask a lady her age) and her fiftieth wedding anniversary, plus almost fifty years of the Montfort school.

Husband Tony deserves special mention too as he has been Eileen's constant companion by taking part in all the stage shows she directed in Cork. I first met Tony in Kinsale Golf Club where he was a club officer and a great competitor in the 60s but the theatre took over from the bunker play and our meetings and greetings were at the great production of Hello Dolly, Camelot, The Music Man and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, etc, all memorable Montford shows.


Eileen Nolan has directed the annual Christmas musical at the Sacred Heart Convent Post Primary School in Clonakilty and hundreds of young performers are grateful for her encouragement and expertise. She directed numerous musicals in Mallow and Fermoy and her teachers hold classes at several North Cork venues on a weekly basis.

On Sunday at the Palace, two past pupils the renowned Marian Wyatt, who has directed a spate of successful shows in Cork, including Singing In The Rain, Man of La Mancha, The Sunbeam Girls and The Good Sisters and actor-director Trevor Ryan of Cork Opera House Pantomime fame, plus a producer/director of I Love You You're Perfect, Now Change, Seussical, Sylvia and The Gingerbread Lady are the tribute co-directors.

Michael Casey comes home from Dublin as musical director and the singers will be accompanied on two grand pianos. Michael will perform some new compositions on stage as a personal tribute to his old friend and mentor. Mary Weston, the Montfort's chief choreographer will oversee the musical staging and Jim Queally will design the settings.

Paul Denby's lighting and Shelia Healy's costumes will add style to the evening's pleasures. Marion Wyatt has chosen the music of Richard Rodgers for the celebration and tells us the background to this choice of entertainment. He wrote the music to Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, Flower Drum Song, and The King and I etc. to the Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein.


Marion tells us that, "in 2002, I was commissioned to write a review style show in celebration of Richard Rodgers 100th birthday. That production enjoyed a successful run at the National Events Centre, Killarney. The show has not been produced since, as I wanted to develop the script further. I've been saving this show for a special occasion.

"Recently, I woke with the notion that my salute to Rodgers would make a very pleasant evening's entertainment and be a pleasing way to pay tribute to my mentor and lifelong friend, Eileen Nolan. 2009 is a special year for Eileen and several of her former students, associates, family and friends want to pay tribute to her.

"Never one to hang around I made a few calls and found like-minded artists willing to come on board. That was towards the end of last summer and now we've a creative team, a production team, and booked a venue.

"We now have an improved script in our hands, a production design and production plans. All that's required now are performers and an audience.

"However, we don't see this as a problem. We're confident they will be queuing in the streets and pounding on the door to join in this celebration.

"We, Trevor Ryan and myself, plan to stage the show with two pianists and am very pleased to say that Michael Casey, a dear friend of Eileen and Tony's, and a superb musical director, will look after the music for this production. The second pianist for the event is David Wray.

"In the script, An Enchanted Evening, Act 1 focuses on Rodger's stormy, inspired relationship with Lorenz Hart, while Act 2 celebrates his uniquely productive partnership with Oscar Hammerstein.

"Richard Rogers' music still represents a standard of quality, accessibility unrivalled by any other 20th century composer. Rodgers published more than 900 songs during a career that spanned more than five decades. Collectively, they read like a treasury of classics from American musical theatre's golden age", she concluded.

Filthy fun

Twink was in town for the week and had three wonderful acolytes on tow in a comedy play Dirty Dusting that gave the audiences a filthy funny evening of laughter and innuendo. It was innocent fun as the three Dublin office cleaners, all in their 70's were made redundant much to the delight of the janitor, Steve Blount (from Fair City) a wacky gentleman that gave the audiences a visual characterisation of a guy on speed or some such aphrodisiac.

Twink (Adele King), Aine Ni Mhium (Ballykissangel) and Eileen Cogan (Glenroe) decided to become entrepreneurs and advertised as The Telephone Belles, offering a phone sex service. Now these golden oldies were by their own admission out of commission in the matrimonial stakes at home, so when the zaniest of guys rang the office phones looking for verbal adventure, the ladies were almost out of their depths.

With altered accents, they seduced the caller, once they got his credit card number noted. When the male demands got too outrageously explicit and complicated, the ladies had a tendency to revert to type, and the Dublin accent spat vituperative refusals that scorched the ears of the testosterone callers. Great crack. Twink in a curtain speech told us of the huge success of the piece of nonsense all over the world and she hoped Cork would also support the show. I have no doubt full houses was the norm for the week.

The Good Father, runs at the Half Moon all this week and Playing Burton by Josh Richards is a the Everyman. At the CAT Club, Son of Derry Ruler of None, deals with the North of Ireland situation.

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