Thursday 23 November 2017

Angela's Ashes gets a little razzmatazz in 'truthful' musical

Angela's Ashes
Angela's Ashes
The team behind Angela’s Ashes: The Musical (from left) composer Adam Howell, writer Paul Hurt and producer Pat Moylan deliver the music to Bord Gais Energy Theatre

Frank McCourt's memoir Angela's Ashes is to get the razzmatazz treatment as it is transformed into an all-singing all-dancing musical.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning book may seem an odd choice for a musical adaptation but producer Pat Moylan believes the 1999 film has tainted our collective memory of the story.

She said the book is filled with moments of hilarity and reckons the stage show will be much more truthful to it than Alan Parker's movie.

"There was so much rain and misery in the film," she said. "It didn't seem to capture the humour.

"I think the musical is a more truthful adaptation."

Moylan also said that many musicals have depressing subject matter.


For example, Cabaret was set during the fall of the Weimar Republic, rock musical Spring Awakening features suicide and abuse and Oliver charts an orphaned child falling in with a gang of murderers and pickpockets.

Les Miserables could hardly be described as a laugh riot either, she added.

"Angela's Ashes: The Musical is similar in many ways to Blood Brothers," Moylan said.

"People have asked me, 'Why are you doing such a miserable book?' but I say look at Les Miserables.

"And there weren't many laughs in Phantom Of The Opera," Moylan said.

"Oliver is another of those great musicals that comes from poverty, the same with Annie. A lot of them are rooted in situations quite similar to the one we're portraying."

McCourt's memoir has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and Moylan believes the show will be a hit with Irish audiences.

"A lot of Irish families had alcoholic fathers and faced unemployment," she said.

"And there are so many Irish rites of passage in the play - like your first Holy Communion and skipping Irish Dancing classes to spend the six pence at the pictures to see James Cagney."

Well-known singer and actress Jacinta Whyte takes one of the leading roles in the play as Frank's mother.

Emmet Byrne who most recently starred in Striking Out alongside Amy Huberman will play Frank's brother Malachy Jr.

Byrne is heading into a busy few months and will begin filming the second series of Striking Out once the musical finishes its run.

Angela's Ashes: The Musical will play Bord Gais Energy Theatre from July 18-30 and will also have dates at Limerick's Lime Tree Theatre from July 6-15.

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