NORTHERN Ireland has always had a thriving arts scene with the first records of theatre dating back as far as 1736 and generations of local performers developing their talents on the stage from James Young and Stephen Boyd to Liam Neeson and Adrian Dunbar.
This year will see the world premiere of The Titanic Boys, a new musical by Belfast’s favourite playwright Martin Lynch and JJ Gilmour, open in the Grand Opera House on Wednesday August 8. The play will mark 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic and is based on a true story of young apprentices who built, sailed and died on the RMS Titanic.
From small community venues to the recently opened MAC in Belfast, Northern Ireland offers theatre lovers an array of venues and shows that promise to entertain the crowds according to the Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s (NITB) Product Marketing Officer Helen Carey.
“Theatres in Northern Ireland have always attracted big names with many international stars continuing to grace our stages. No matter what time of year it is there is always something taking place in the theatres that everyone can enjoy, from performances by local school groups to world-class theatre productions and from musicals to comedies,” said Helen.
“The new play Titanic Boys by Martin Lynch is a powerful true story of ordinary men who found themselves at the centre of an extraordinary world event and is a fantastic opportunity for everyone to celebrate our shipbuilding heritage in Northern Ireland. “With theatres in every county in Northern Ireland and so many productions taking place over the next few months I would encourage everyone to take a trip to the theatre and enjoy the entertainment that is right on your own doorstep,” she added.
NITB has highlighted some up-and-coming shows that are taking place across Northern Ireland;
Les Miserables, The MAC, Belfast, August 3 – 4. A cast of fifty young people from across Ireland perform this musical extravaganza which follows the stories of many characters as they struggle for redemption and revolution in early 19th century France.
The Titanic Boys, Grand Opera House, Belfast, August 8 – 25. To mark 100 years since its sinking, Belfast’s favourite playwright Martin Lynch tells the untold story of young Harland & Wolff men who built, sailed and died on the RMS Titanic.
The Gruffalo, The Lyric Theatre, August 28 – September 2. Songs, laughs and scary fun as Mouse takes on an adventurous journey through the deep, dark wood and encounters a number of hungry animals that he scares away with stories of the terrifying Gruffalo, but what happens when he comes face to face with the very creature he imagined?
Blood Brothers, Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, September 7 – 8. The tale of twin brothers who are born into a large working-class family and what happens when their mother decides to have one of them adopted.
The Importance of Being Earnest, Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey, September 27 – 29. Oscar Wilde’s theatrical masterpiece is widely-acknowledged as one of the greatest comedies in the English language with wonderful characters, dazzling wordplay, comic invention and a sprinkling of romance.
Wake In The West, The Market Place Theatre, August 17. An old farmer dies on the coast of Western Ireland and when his devastated family bury his body at sea they forget to weight the body launching a full sea and air rescue mission to recover a man thought to have been lost overboard.
A Night In November, The Market Place Theatre, September 7. When Ulster Protestant Kenneth McCallister finds himself on the football terraces for a crucial Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland World Cup qualifying match, little does he know that his humdrum life is about to change forever.
What a Feeling, Newcastle Centre, July 28. The 80s come to Newcastle with this spectacular, fast-moving, international show featuring more than 30 of the best songs of the decade from artists such as Michael Jackson, Abba, Cher and Dire Straits.
Stick Granny On The Roof Rack, Web Theatre, Newtownards, August 3. Take one everyday family, heat to 36 degrees, cover in suntan oil, leave in hired car to cook, then stand back and watch as years of family tensions boil over in a hilarious mix of laughter and tears.
Don’t Lose The Place, Ardhowen Theatre, August 9 – 11. When Sylvia’s boyfriend Robin walks out on her she decides on a rather unconventional method of finding a replacement. A delightful and comic story with unexpected and hilarious results.
The Chronicles of Elvis McGonagle, Strule Arts Centre, August 18. Set in 1977, the McGonagle family from Omagh await the birth of their first grandchild. On arrival, the boy looks very familiar with sideburns, jet black hair, the curling lips and gyrating hips. He couldn’t be... could he?
Midnight at Mildew Manor, Burnavon Arts and Cultural Centre, August 30 – 31. A musical drama unfolds at Nanny McBee’s summer boot camp which was established to cure kids who are addicted to technology.
Galatea, The Playhouse, August 23 – 24. Following a sell out performance and standing ovations in the Derry Playhouse, this comedy is back again by popular demand as part of a tour across Northern Ireland for this year’s Pride Festival.
Chicago The Musical, Millennium Forum, October 22 – 27. Based on events in the roaring 1920s, nightclub singer Roxie Hart shoots her lover and along with Cell Block rival and double-murderess Velma Kelly, they fight to keep from death row with the help of smooth talking lawyer Billy Flynn.
The Wedding Singer, Riverside Theatre, July 27 – 28. It’s 1985 and rock-star wannabe Robbie Hart is New Jersey’s favourite wedding singer. He is the life of the party until his own fiancée leaves him at the altar and he goes on to make every wedding as disastrous as his own.
For further information on theatres and what’s on across Northern Ireland click on www.discovernorthernireland.com or visit your local tourist information centre. You can also keep up-to-date with the latest news, images, videos and competitions by visiting http://www.facebook.com/discovernorthernireland.