"Is this the first time it has been performed publicly? That’s very exciting! " Very exciting indeed, Ray, as producer Pat Moylan and leading lady Jacinta Whyte were in studio with The Ray D'Arcy Show for a live version of a ballad from Angela’s Ashes: The Musical.
"Nobody has heard this song outside of rehearsals" says Pat, who describes the project as a labour of love. She had her light-bulb moment four years ago and began looking into the prospect of turning the iconic book into a play, but she wasn’t the only one thinking along those lines.
"I heard about this composer who was writing music for Angela’s Ashes for a student production and I got in touch with them. We started developing it, I brought a director on board and here we are!"
While ‘musical’ certainly wasn’t the genre of stage show Pat had in mind, the quality of the songwriting by composer Adam Howell soon had her changing tack. Not only was Pat totally sold on the idea, but Ellen McCourt, Frank’s widow, described the music as "sensational" and was hugely enthusiastic about getting it to the stage.
Someone else who did a complete turnaround for the project was West End star Jacinta Whyte, who Pat headhunted specifically for the role and who made the leap back across the pond to play the lead. A quick read of the script convinced her that the team was onto something special and that feeling has only increased as time as gone by.
"We look around at each other when we’re rehearsing a scene and everybody that’s been cast has been cast so superbly. Everybody’s bringing something else to the table. We’ve done a few rehearsals where we’ve had press in and the press have gone, wow!"
A notable difference to the 1999 film version of Angela’s Ashes is that the musical aims to bring out a warmer, lighter side of the story. Pat says,
"The movie is very dark and very grey and very rainy, and I knew that this was not the type of stage show that I wanted… There’s also an awful lot of humour in the book."
Angela’s Ashes opens in Limerick (where else?) in the Lime Tree Theatre on July 6th, then travels on to Dublin and Belfast. Click here for the interview.