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There’s no business like show business!

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This coming March will be their 38th production and members of Killarney Musical Society (KMS) are excited to get back to what they love most - being on stage.

Their colourful variety show 'A Musical Journey' takes place on March 7, 8 and 9 in the INEC and it couldn't come faster!

KMS members have unanimously counted their blessings to have somewhat cheated COVID as their last production 'Joseph and the Technicolour Dream Coat' took place in February 2020 - a month before the world was first locked down.

Long standing member, Phil Spillane confirmed that in the meantime, the lock had rusted over and she had her son-in-law Joe O’Shea ‘have at it’ with an angle grinder so the next step was to tackle the container's contents in preparation for this year's production.

Bringing the sound of melodious music and dance to the community with almost 120 years combined, I was eager to chat to the KMS members Derek O’Leary, Phil Spillane, Ilona McCubbery and Brid Griffin O’Callaghan.

Phil Spillane has dedicated 35 of those years to Killarney Musical Society.

Clearly ‘there’s no business like show business’ for you Phil - 'Let's start from the very beginning'......

Founding member Dr Dick Shanahan (RIP) from Farranfore began the Society together with many others, including active founding member Pam Brosnan in 1985. I was a member by 1989 and my first show was 'The Show Boat' at the Árás Pádraig. Music and dance is in the genes as my aunts were music teachers and held many shows in Belfast. I was a member of Marian Arts Society, Dublin as a child and would you believe Stella O’Shea’s mother, Mrs Moore, was my dance teacher and took us the length and breath of the country dancing for the public. Social media updates weren’t a thing back then so you can imagine my surprise as a receptionist at the Dunloe Hotel when Stella O’Shea disembarked the bus as a tour guide with her brother's company, Brian Moore Tours. Much to my delight, Stella remained in Killarney and together with Sorcha O’Connor (Choral Mistress) and working with Jack Brosnan, she is now the assistant to the director for choreography.

What was your favourite show to part take in Phil?

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Anything Goes’ because it is filled with tap dancing which I loved. Afterwards, in 1992, I became a committee member, taking a back seat to shows, making a small appearance in the finale of our most recent show 'Joseph and the Technicolour Dream Coat'.

Reverting back to a giggle I noticed when Phil mentioned the shows at the Árás Pádraig, Derek O’Leary, who has been with the Society for 30 years now, was next up for questioning.

You must have some stories from your performances at the Áras Derek?

The expectations at the Áras were slightly lower than that of the INEC. Those were the days when we could pop to McSweeneys for a quick pint at half time. When we moved to the INEC in 2001 for the 'New Pirates of Penzance', we needed to become more like pros as we could be seen from all angles. There was no room for pranks! Some of the funnier moments at the Áras was when the entire set fell right in on top of the orchestra in 1991 for 'Belle of New York'. Sure what could you do? We had free rein at the Áras to act as we wished when our backs were turned to the audience for whatever reason. I will always remember my twin brother Conor, off the cuff, in the Temple scene of 'Jesus Christ Super Star' at the markets, where most of the cast were on stage selling various wears. With his back to the audience he passed from seller to seller with a credit card in hand asking if they would accept a card. Needless to say the uncontrollable laughter of the cast unknown to the audience had a domino effect across the stage. At the INEC there is nowhere to hide!

Blessed amongst women Derek, have you always had a leading role?

I have a distinct advantage being the token male since 1992. Like any club, KMS is my club and I thoroughly enjoy it. My favourite show to date was also produced by this year's director/choreographer Oliver Hurley, 'Me & My Girl'. It was full of comedy with great dialogue. The dancing was a stretch. I can do hands and I can do feet but the communication was lost when both had to coordinate. I just about got away with it. I am a contemporary tenor, not operatic, so the 'New Pirates of Penzance' challenged me hugely.

Ilona, how long have you been with KMS and what are your most memorable moments?

Before we go any further, Derek neglected to mention that he won us our first AIMS Award in 2003 for 'Annie Get Your Gun' which was a massive achievement for us, but to answer your question, I am a sucker for variety shows and this year will be our fourth. I like them because there are no main leading roles but many responsible roles making for inclusive opportunities in giving everyone a time to shine. From an audience point of view, everyone goes home with a favourite part. The buzz of being on stage is always memorable to me, but the one that stands out the most would have to be 'Les Miserables'. On stage as a group singing together, I cannot put it into words - the best feeling ever.

Last but not least, how are things going this year Bríd?

This my 25th year with KMS and the largest cast to date. There are 38 eight to 12-year-olds, 25 teenagers and in total a whopping 118 cast members. The children are a fantastic bunch and a credit to their families. These figures are without lighting, sound, orchestra, backstage, props, front of house staff etc. The coordination is full on but we are being well looked after at our rehearsal venue Ross Products by Cathleen Collins who keeps the cafe open throughout rehearsals. Our director/choreographer Oliver Hurley is hugely creative as is our fantastic musical director Jimmy Brockie.

Tickets are available from Ross Products during rehearsal times but can also be bought at the INEC on show dates; March 7, 8 and 9 at €26 standard, €21 Snr Citizen/Student and €74 for a family of two adults and two children. Group rates are available on request and also on Ticketmaster where the usual fees apply. Weekly updates of ‘A Musical Journey’ can be found on Facebook and Instagram.

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Trilogy of comedy on offer by Dóchas Drama

By Sean Moriarty Dóchas Drama Group will present a series of three short comedy plays next week. All three plays are written and produced by Dóchas and will be acted […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Dóchas Drama Group will present a series of three short comedy plays next week.

All three plays are written and produced by Dóchas and will be acted out by the group’s members.

The opening act, ‘Flossing Around’ is written by Ger Madden and directed by Brian Bowler.

“A woman has an innate fear of the dentist. We go on the journey with her as she faces her fears, with hilarious consequences,” explained the group’s Liz Ryan.

This will be followed by ‘Faraway Hills’ which is written by Mary Quirke and directed by Michael Mills.
It is a tongue in cheek look at family life.

“A son wants to get away from small town life. His mother wants to keep him at home but his father can’t wait to see the back of him,” added Liz, who plays the mother in this short play.

Brain Bowler wrote the third instalment called ‘A Little Visitor’ which is directed by Ryan Jones.

“There are lots of misunderstandings when a hypochondriac visits a group of doctors who have other things on the their minds,” added Liz.

The run, which will feature all three performances each night, starts Wednesday next week and continues Thursday and Friday (February 8 to 10) at the Killarney Avenue Hotel. Tickets are €10 and are available at the door.

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Killarney secures three gold medals in national business awards

Three hotels in Killarney have won gold medals at the Virgin Media Business Gold Medal Awards. Now in its 33rd year, the awards the best of the best in the […]

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Three hotels in Killarney have won gold medals at the Virgin Media Business Gold Medal Awards.

Now in its 33rd year, the awards the best of the best in the hotel and catering sectors across the country.

This year, judges received over 460 entries from 150 hotels, guest houses, country houses, restaurants, cafés, bars and catering companies from around Ireland.

“An important factor in the Gold Medal Awards is the credibility and impartial nature of the judging process. Every property that undergoes this process is subject to benchmarking against a strict set of criteria and a blind site inspection conducted by the judging panel,” said an event organiser.

“This panel comprises respected industry experts from across the hospitality, culinary and catering sectors.”

Three Killarney hotels took top awards in different categories at the awards ceremony held at the Galmont Hotel and Spa in Galway on Tuesday night.

The Great Southern Hotel was named as the best Business and Conference Hotel in Ireland.

“To be recognised among the greatest hotels in Ireland is a marvellous achievement for Great Southern. It is fantastic news and has provided all our staff with a little morale boost. Our Business & Conference partners and customers are extremely important to us with some relationships in place annually for over 30 years. Receiving this recognition for the service we provide is a fantastic achievement and testament to the incredible work of our outstanding staff,” said Michael Jacobi Managing Director said.

The best front of house team award went the staff at the Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa.

In the Hotel Casual Dining Experience category the Dunloe Hotel and Gardens came out on top.

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