Tuesday, August 09, 2022

 

St. Patrick’s Gateway: Jack Cunningham Productions

 

JACK Cunningham’s school has come a long way in the last eight months. Tonight’s concert has a cast of 24 teenagers, aged 13 to 17, and the talent on show is astonishing. The concert is slick, professional and classy with the cleanest of entrances and exits and a programme that just zips along. 22 songs with dance in a programme that lasts just about two hours is just the ticket for a warm Spraoi night.

Fronted by five mikes, with a dazzling array of strong singers, the show just flows along. The cast of 24 team off into a front line of singers, backed by 10 dancers and two rows of singers that support. Cunningham always changes the picture we’re watching and it’s a delight to see the lead singers interchange with the dancers and the chorus so that everyone gets to perform. The golden rule of musical theatre – act… react… and smile – is not lost and that feelgood warmth never leaves the stage of the Gateway.

 

‘Jack Cunningham’s troupe of players is young, talented, enthusiastic and full of that energy that only youth can bring’

 

When the ensemble, dressed in classic black, burst open the show with “Magic to do” from Pippin, you just know that the audience is in for a treat. In fact, there are big ensemble numbers everywhere with front lines that continuously alternate. “Freak Flag” from Shrek… “I can hear the bells” from Hairspray… “This is me” from The Greatest Showman… “Joseph’s Technicolour Dreamcoat” from Joseph… “The Sparkling Diamond” from Moulin Rouge and “Spread the Love” from Sister Act are sung, acted and danced in a remarkably small acting space.

Jack’s performers are well drilled. These songs are not simply sung; they’re interpreted and performed. Alex Kavanagh’s “My Man” from Funny Girl captures all the contradictions of loving a ne’er-do-well, while Anne-Marie Cooper, complete with dancing eyes, nails “Miss Baltimore” Girl from Hairspray.

Rhea Kennedy’s soprano is a showstopper with “Wishing you were somehow here again” from Phantom, while Alex Healy, Millie Sloan and Charley Fitzgerald bring great fun with “Matchmaker” from Fiddler; the excellent Sam Horsfell and ensemble with “Dancin’ Fool” from Copacabana, and also with Patrick Drennan in “Seize the day” from Newsies, as do Aoife Curtain, Jenna Dunphy, Holly Grant, Ellen Jacob and Charley Fitzgerald with “Let’s be bad”, complete with flapper dance routine from Smash.

Emma Walsh does a fine job on the multi-layered and ironic “Leave you” from Follies and the equally difficult “I’m not afraid of anything” from Songs for a New World. Chloe McGrath is a delight with “I dreamed a dream” from Les Mis; Anne-Marie Collins is an excellent Momma Morton from Chicago, while Jack McGrath brings multiple characters to “You’ll be back” from Hamilton.

Some other standout moments feature Charley Fitzgerald and Emily O’Mahony with “Breathe” from In the Heights and Jenna Murphy’s very moving “Astonishing” from Little Women.

Jack Cunningham’s troupe of players is young, talented, enthusiastic and full of that energy that only youth can bring. The future of musical theatre in Waterford is bright.

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By Pat McEvoy, Arts Correspondent
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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