Convent of Mercy students are busy rehearsing ahead of next Monday’s opening performance of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The show will run from Monday (28th) to Saturday (December 3rd) with shows at 8 pm every evening and a matinée performance at 1.30 pm on Saturday.
I paid a visit to the school earlier this week where I met some of the stars of the show as well as Director and Producer, Margaret Madden and Musical Director, Siofra Byrne.
Ms Byrne told me the students were working hard ahead of opening night.
“There are over 100 students involved from First Year to Fifth Year. There are also eight boys from the CBS who have been brilliant. We’re delighted to have them playing male roles such as ‘Beast’, ‘Le Fou’ and ‘Maurice’. Playing the lead characters, Belle and Beast, are Aoife McLaughlin from fifth year and Conor McCormack from Transition Year in CBS,” she said.
Mrs Madden and Ms Byrne have been working tirelessly along with Choreography Director, Fiona Madden, and her assistants Eimear Collier and Aoibhe Tiernan from Sixth Year. The whole school has a part to play with costumes and props designed and built by staff members.
Luckily, the stars of the show were taking a break from rehearsals when I dropped in and they politely agreed to grant me an interview!
Aoife McLaughlin who plays Belle, told me the introduction of boys to the production was awkward to begin with: “It’s probably better craic now that we all know each other. I didn’t really know him (Conor who plays Beast) that much at the start but we all got to know each other and it’s kinda funny now!”
“They’re good for a joke, good for a laugh,” says Aífe, who plays Gaston, “They don’t take it as seriously,” she added, as all three laughed.
The girls said they admire the lads’ bravery and admitted that they’d find it difficult to rehearse in the CBS.
As for their respective roles, Niamh Shanagher’s career has certainly skyrocketed since her first outing. “I’ve gone from ‘monkey’ to ‘old man’ to ‘clock’. My most challenging role so far would probably be this one (Cogsworth). I’ve to wear this big clock costume and it’s really heavy on the shoulders and only recently I got this big head piece as well so it’s changing my perspective on how I act because I can’t turn left now! I’ve to know exactly where I’m going on the stage.” (Laughs)
Aoife (Belle) is enjoying her big role but admits that it can also be challenging: “It’s awkward sometimes because we have to stare at each other (herself and ‘Beast’) without saying anything,” she said, before revealing a stage secret: “We look at each other’s eyebrows instead of looking at the eyes!”
As for stage fright, the girls said it can be “daunting” seeing so many people in the hall but seeing people you know can be even more difficult. Niamh remembered seeing a cousin in the front row while Aífe’s dad could be heard laughing throughout one performance!
Belle, Gaston and Cogsworth unfortunately ran out of time and had to rush back to class but they assured me that they are looking forward to seeing all their fans at next Monday’s opening performance of Beauty and the Beast!
Beauty and the Beast evening tickets are €12 while matinée tickets are €10 and both are selling out fast, so call Paula on 087-4027324 to book yours!