seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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“The Beauty Queen of Leenane” Wins Four Tony Awards

the-beauty-queen-of-leenaneAfter being nominated in six categories, Galway’s Druid Theatre Company wins four Tony Awards on June 8, 1998 for its production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, a 1996 comedy by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh.

The play receives its world premiere when the Druid Theatre Company opens the production at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway on February 1, 1996. It then tours Ireland, stopping off in Longford, Kilkenny and Limerick. It transfers to London‘s West End, where it opens at the Royal Court Theatre on February 29, 1996.

The Druid production returns to Ireland to embark on an extensive national tour, playing in Galway, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Fermanagh, Donegal and Derry amongst others. The play returns to London where it is revived at the Duke of York’s Theatre on November 29, 1996 for several months.

The play is produced as part of Druid’s Leenane Trilogy, which includes two other plays by Martin McDonagh, in 1997 where it plays as part of another Irish and UK tour, which includes stops at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin and the Royal Court Theatre in London again.

The play receives its American premiere opening Off-Broadway on February 11, 1998, presented by the Atlantic Theatre Company at the Linda Gross Theater. It transfers to the Walter Kerr Theater on Broadway where it opens on April 14, 1998. It receives six Tony Award nominations, winning four for Best Supporting Actor (Tom Murphy), Best Actress (Marie Mullen), Best Supporting Actress (Anna Manahan), and Best Director (Garry Hynes), the first female recipient of a Tony Award for directing a play.

The play is produced in Australia in 1998 and again in 1999. The 1999 production is a tour by the Royal Court Theatre Company, appearing at the Adelaide Festival Centre (May – June 1999) and Wharf 1 (July 1999) and directed by Garry Hynes. The production returns to Ireland in 2000 as part of a final national tour.

The play is revived in July 2010 at the Young Vic Theatre in the West End, starring Irish actress Rosaleen Linehan. The production transfers to Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre where Linehan reprises her role opposite Derbhle Crotty. It then returns to the Young Vic for another run, closing in September 2011.

The Druid Theatre Company presents a revival in 2016–2017. The production starts in Ireland in Galway at the Town Hall Theatre in September 2016, and then tours to The Everyman in Cork, the Lime Tree Theatre in Limerick and the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin. The play then tours in the United States starting in November 2016. The play runs at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in November 2016 then opens at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City, running from January 11, 2017 to February 5. The production returns to Ireland, playing at The Gaiety Theatre from March 28 to April 15, 2017.

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The Opening of the Gaiety Theatre

The Gaiety Theatre, a theatre on South King Street in Dublin off Grafton Street and close to St. Stephen’s Green, opens on November 27, 1871 with John Spencer, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, as guest of honour and a double bill of the comedy She Stoops to Conquer and a burlesque version of La Belle Sauvage. Designed by architect Charles J. Phipps and built in under seven months, it specialises in operatic and musical productions, with occasional dramatic shows.

The Gaiety is extended by theatre architect Frank Matcham in 1883, and, despite several improvements to public spaces and stage changes, it retains several Victorian era features and remains Dublin’s longest-established, continuously producing theatre.

Patrick Wall and Louis Elliman purchase the theatre in 1936 and run it for several decades with local actors and actresses. They sell it in 1965, and in the 1960s and the 1970s the theatre is run by Fred O’Donovan and the Eamonn Andrews Studios, until Joe Dowling, former artistic director of the Abbey Theatre, becomes director of the Gaiety in the 1980s. In the 1990s Groundwork Productions take on the lease and the theatre is eventually bought by the Break for the Border Group. The Gaiety is purchased by music promoter Denis Desmond and his wife Caroline in the late 1990s, who undertake a refit of the theatre. The Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism also contributes to this restoration fund.

Performers and playwrights associated with the theatre have been celebrated with hand-prints cast in bronze and set in the pavement beneath the theatre canopy. These handprints include those of Luciano Pavarotti, Brendan Grace, Maureen Potter, Twink, John B. Keane, Anna Manahan, Niall Tóibín and Brian Friel.

The theatre plays host to the 1971 Eurovision Song Contest, the first to be staged in Ireland, during the Gaiety’s centenary year. Clodagh Rodgers, a contestant in that particular contest, later presents her RTÉ television series The Clodagh Rodgers Show from the theatre in the late 1970s.

The Gaiety is known for its annual Christmas pantomime and has hosted a pantomime every year since 1874. Actor and director Alan Stanford directs both Gaiety productions of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Irish entertainer June Rodgers stars in the Gaiety pantomime for years, until she begins to headline the equally established Olympia Theatre panto. The Gaiety shows have included Irish performers that appeal to home grown audiences, including a number of Fair City actors. Pantomimes in the 21st century have included versions of Mother Goose (2006), Beauty and the Beast (2007), Cinderella (2008), Jack and the Beanstalk (2009), Aladdin (2010), Robinson Crusoe (2011/12), Peter Pan (2013/14), Red Riding Hood (2014/15).


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Birth of The Pogues’ Guitarist Philip Chevron

philip-chevronPhilip Ryan, Irish singer-songwriter and guitarist professionally known as Philip Chevron and best known as a member of The Pogues, is born on June 17, 1957. He is regarded as one of the most influential figures in Irish punk music.

Chevron grows up in Santry, a suburb of Dublin. Beginning in the late 1970s, he is lead singer and co-founder of the punk rock group The Radiators from Space, receiving some critical acclaim but little widespread popularity or financial success. Following a temporary breakup of the band in 1981, he lives in London for a while where he meets and befriends Shane MacGowan through time spent working together at a record shop. Following the release of the Pogues’ 1984 debut album Red Roses For Me, Chevron is invited to join the band as a temporary replacement for banjo player Jem Finer while on paternity leave. He takes over as guitarist following MacGowan’s decision to concentrate on singing, thereby becoming a full-time member of the band in time for the recording of its second album, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash.

Chevron proves himself as a singer-songwriter, writing the songs Thousands Are Sailing and Lorelei among others. He leaves The Pogues in 1994 following problems with drugs and alcohol. In 2003, he reforms The Radiators (Plan 9) with ex-Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan. They release the album Trouble Pilgrim in 2006.

In later years, he becomes The Pogues’ unofficial spokesperson and resident expert on the reclusive MacGowan, frequently visiting online fora and directly answering questions from fans. In 2004, he personally oversees the remastering and re-release of The Pogues’ entire back catalogue on CD. He tours regularly with The Pogues, who reunite after a successful reunion tour in 2001.

In June 2007, The Pogues’ website announces that Chevron has been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. In early 2008, the website announces that Chevron has recovered, and to his surprise and joy, his hearing has returned to almost pre-treatment levels. He embarks on the March 2008 tour of the United States and manages to sing Thousands Are Sailing at each performance. By 2009, Chevron appears to have recovered from the cancer.

However, in May 2013, it is announced that the cancer has returned and it is “lethal.” In June he stoically tells the Irish Daily Mail, “I am a gay, Irish, Catholic, alcoholic Pogue who is about to die from cancer – and don’t think I don’t know it.” Chevron dies on October 8, 2013 in Dublin at the age of 56. His last public appearance is at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin for a fundraiser in August of that same year.