The cast of at rehearsals last week Back l-r: Gerard McKenna, Patrick Keaveney, Paul Gavin, Padraig Cullen, Jason Brennan and Vivian O'Loughlin. Front l-r Fiona Kuehl, Stephanie Kelly & Dolores Hannon
The strong tradition of amateur drama in Dromahair is set to continue when the Lough Gill Players bring the hilarious Tom, Dick and Harry to life with performances scheduled for Manorhamilton, Sligo and Dromahair in the coming weeks.
Although drama has been strong in Dromahair since the 1970s the local scene was rejuvenated when the Lough Gill Players staged their first production in 1990 under the guidance of Fr Patsy Young when they performed Sharon's Grave.
In the subsequent years there have been a host of memorable performances as the group have staged some of the country's favourite plays to local audiences.
This year's production will once again be directed by Paul Gavin whose challenge has been significantly added to by the fact that he also plays one of the lead characters in this year's play, Tom, Dick and Harry. He describes the play as a farce that is “daft but great craic!”
Looking to buck the trend of relying on the same plays that regularly feature on the local circuit Paul and the group opted for the comedy written by the English father and son partnership of Ray and Michael Cooney.
When Paul outlined the play's storyline it became clear why they opted for it.
“The play has a little bit of everything,” said Paul before rehearsals got underway last week in Ballinagar hall.
“Tom and Linda are hoping to adopt a baby and the woman from the agency, Mrs Potter is coming to visit.
“Tom's two brothers Dick and Harry arrive on the scene. Dick has smuggled cigarettes and brandy and Harry has smuggled bits of a dead body to bury in the back garden.”
Throw in the combination of two illegal immigrants and a nosey police officer all landing to the house as Tom and Linda wait for Mrs Potter to arrive to carry out her inspection and it is easy to see how there is a perfect recipe for complete chaos!
It has been a long journey for the Lough Gill Players but Paul insists it has all been worthwhile.
“We began readings at the end of October to become familiar with the play and from the first week of January it has been full-on in terms of rehearsals.
“It is a big commitment from everyone but it helps pass the winter.”
The cast of nine features many faces familiar to those who have seen any of the Lough Gill Players past productions with Paul ably assisted by Vivian O'Loughlin, Jason Brennan, Dolores Hannon, Fiona Kuehl, Patrick Keaveney, Gerard McKenna, Stephanie Kelly and Padraig Cullen.
As well as the cast the group are fortunate to be able to call on the assistance of Holger Kuehl for stage design while Paul was also full of praise for what he describes as “a real community effort.”
Paul added: “We are really lucky. We have loads of people who chip in and help. John Cavanagh and Sinead McKeon do loads and Sean McTiernan provides transport.”
The play was performed for the first time on Sunday last in Ballinagar hall, a day later than originally planned with Paul joking: “It was going to start on Saturday but with Leitrim playing in Croke Park we said we better wait until Sunday because there wouldn't be a sinner here!”
A notable feature of the group's performances is that once again monies raised from their Hawk's Well Theatre performance will be donated to the North West Hospice and SHOUT.
It is understandably something the entire group is very proud of with Paul noting: “Over the past six or seven years we have raised in excess of €40,000 for charity.”
Although this year's production has only just begun its run of performances Paul is already looking ahead to the group's 30th anniversary next year and is urging anyone with an interest in drama to get involved.
“Next year we are going to do a drive for newer and younger members. We need new blood every year and we have a few but we are always looking for more.”