Local musician reveals his West End dreams

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HUNDREDS of people packed into the Auditorium at Princes Gardens, Larne for the debut performance of a new musical that was 10 years in the making.

Behind the Dream, a stage production written and composed by local singer-songwriters Esler Burke and Richard Geddes, finally burst into life on Friday evening after months of rehearsals and meticulous preparation.

The two-hour production is a cautionary tale of fame in the music industry told through the eyes of a character called Will Sampson, played by Gerry McGarry. It is a story of love, self-doubt, humour, betrayal, loyalty, madness and death.

The narrative starts off with a debate between Sampson and several young people, many of whom believe that being famous is all that matters in life.

In a bid to demonstrate the folly in this belief, our hero takes them - and the audience - on a journey through his own life, recounting the struggles and disappointments that he faced on the road to fame. The cast featured local singing sensation Zolene Mayberry and ex-chairman of Larne FC, Johneen Black.

Behind the Dream did not originally start out life as a musical, but gradually became one over the course of the decade since its inception.

Esler and Richard, who played in bands together when they were younger, had been writing music separately for many years. About 10 years ago they started writing songs together, and soon realised that there was a common thread linking them all together.

And so the concept of Behind a Dream was born - an idea that continued to develop over the years until it finally took to the stage on Friday.

A delighted Elser told the Times that the process of taking the musical from page to stage was “very stressful at times”, but added that the feedback he has received from audience members has made it all worthwhile.

“The whole evening was a great success and I was really pleased with the performances of the entire cast, which was mostly made up of young amateurs. The Auditorium was full to capacity and all the comments we have received have been very positive,” he added.

“I want to say a big thank you to everyone who supported us and helped make Behind the Dream such a big success, including St Comgall’s Club, St MacNissi’s Choral and Dramatic Society, Larne Tourist Board, Larne Councillor Roy Beggs and many others.”

With the success of the debut performance, Esler and Richard now hope to bring their musical to a much larger audience, and the pair even harbour dreams of the taking the project all the way to London’s West End.

The debut production was filmed and put onto DVD, and Esler and Richard will now embark on a promotional campaign in the hopes that a producer will provide them with the financial support they need to take the project forward.

“Getting a musical onto the West End can cost millions of pounds. Friday’s performance was a way to test the water and see how people reacted to the production. If the show had been a flop, then that would have been the end of the road for us. But because it was a success, we now have the mandate we need to take this forward,” he concluded.

Were you at the Auditorium for the debut performance of Behind the Dream? If so, tell us what you made of the production. Send your comments to news@larnetimes.co.uk or by post to Larne Times, 8 Dunluce Street, Larne, BT40 1JG.