Following years of successful productions, it is safe to say that the Backstage Theatre Group (BTG) has set the bar quite high in terms of expectation. This year Longford’s ambitious amateur dramatic society undertook the John B. Keane classic, ‘Many Young Men Of Twenty’.
Directed by long-term member of BTG, Gus Hanley, the production looks at a number of social challenges including the impact of emigration on a small rural community – a fitting choice give current socio-economic and cultural trends. Hanley, who has previously directed ‘15 Streets’ by Catherine Cookson and ‘Evening with Chekov’ by Neil Simon, directed a cast of 15 through a dramatic work interspersed with music.
Leading the way on the music front was Lyndsey Clyne. Although this was her first lead role in a dramatic production, her long-standing experience with St. Mel’s Musical Society was clearly evident in her role as Peg Finnerty.
The inimitable Benny O’Brien took to the stage once again and delivered a superb performance as Danger Mulally. His light-hearted and quick delivery of Keane’s classic one-liners was in keeping with the actor’s usual dramatic gait.
Other cast members included; Maureen Dunne (Seelie Hannigan), Gerry Rafferty (Tom Hannigan), Gail McNeill (Maynan), Tom Maguire (Dawheen Timmineen Din), David Flaherty (Kevin), Stephen McLoughlin (Dinny), Nancy Bermingham (Kitty Curley), Niamh Quinn (Dot), Roy Davis (J.J. Houlihan), Philip McCarthy (Johnny Houlihan), Jim Maher (Maurice Browne), Niall Brewster (Aloysius), Muireann Mulcahy (Mary) and Shane Casserly (Mikey).
The musical touch was enhanced by the performance of local singer Seamus Farrell. The band’s presence was built into the stage, which added further ambiance to the set and this was well constructed allowing for the frequent movement of conversations, singing and dancing. The set design and construction fell under the remit of Gerry Gorman and Gus Hanley, while the Stage Manager was Shane Crossan. Other stage crew included Nuala McNiven, Mary O’Hara, Chris McCormack, Jimmy Lennon and Paddy Phipps.
Hanley was assisted in his direction by Christian Dann who also undertook sound. Meanwhile lighting was left to the capable hands of Mairtin Kenny, and makeup fell to Nuala O’Kane and Vivian Mulligan.
Finally costumes were well designed to the period (1960s) and added to the overall authenticity of the group’s performance. These were co-ordinated by Anne Egan and Ursula Bowler.