Interview with the wonderfully talented Karyn McCooey (Dundalk Musical Society)

imageAfter posting up my last interview with the delightful Sean Og Cairns, the response of the public to this one-to-one discussion was amazing. My fingers began tapping on my work station and my pencil never left the page for one second, whilst brain storming for my follow up interview with another cast member.

As I scribbled down the words Sister Act and Nuns, it was a no-brainer to predict where I was going to set my sights on next. Why not interview one of the fabulous, hilarious and most memorable nuns themselves? It was then that I made it my responsibility to secure an interview with the outstanding, refined, and superb talent that is Karyn McCooey.

Karyn was given the opportunity, and most of all the great responsibility of playing one of the most memorable characters of both the film and stage version of Sister Act, in the Dundalk Musical Society’s production. This role was Sister Mary Patrick, of course. The role was made famous in the film version by actress Kathy Najimy, and then followed up by the West End debut by newcomer Claire Greenway.

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So as I got dressed in my room on the first of my two nights attending the stage musical version of this classic, I had the soundtrack blaring on my iPad, whilst chiming in to each line and lyric.

When I later sat in the stalls, I pondered to myself whether the cast would live up to my expectations and to the original character personalities. Sister Mary Patrick is probably everybody’s favourite nun, due to her jolly, care-free attitude and love of a bit of adventure outside the walls of the convent. As soon as the curtain went up and Karyn walked out onto the stage in full nun get-up, delivering her first line… I had to hold myself back from throwing my arms up and screaming “HALLELUJAH!!!” The Dundalk Musical Society could not have cast anyone better than Karyn. Firstly she has, and always will have the flair for theatrical performance. Secondly, she portrayed the part right down to Mary Patrick’s comedic characteristics. And ultimately, her musical numbers were out of this world. From the first lines of the song “Good to be a Nun!” to her final number with the entire cast for “Spread the Love Around,” it was like heaven to my ears. With such a flawless voice; both powerful and soft in various stages, she showed total control over her stage presence and it was clear to see that both the leading and supportive cast looked up to her. And who wouldn’t? Her personality was infectious throughout the show.

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However, now that Karyn has hung up her habit, placed her rosary beads back in their case and held back on waking up “at 4am RIGHT on the dot,” I got the chance to catch up with the lovely lady herself.

Entertainment Fairy (EF): Hi Karen, first of all, let me congratulate you on a successful run of Sister Act The Musical. You all brought the house down!! What was your reaction to the 6 sell out shows at the An Tain Theatre?

Karyn: It was absolutely breathtaking. It was as if we were a West End/Broadway cast in a Dundalk theatre. The audiences reaction was completely overwhelming, in the best possible sense. I will never forget it.

EF: What was your favourite part about playing the character of the iconic Sister Mary Patrick?

Karyn: I think it was her permanently positive attitude that she had about everything. I felt she would put a smile on your face even in the dullest moment.
If I came into the rehearsal feeling the littlest bit under the weather, as soon as you switched on Mary Patrick, she would brighten your entire day. She was so infectious.

EF: Were you a fan of the film version starring Whoopi Goldberg and also it’s west end debut, before taking on one of the character roles yourself?

Karyn: I have seen the movie so many times, I really do love it. It’s the type of story that you never get tired of. All of the varying characters that you have throughout the piece, and the different perspectives that they give it, are what makes it for me really. The music of course is different on stage compared to the film. I loved the movie score but the new music; coupled along with all its dance routines and harmonies, you cannot help but dance and clap your way through it. I adore it.

EF: I know what you mean! The new songs created for the musical, add an entirely new dimension to the show, whilst still maintaining respect for the original storyline. What is your favourite song of the entire musical, and of course, you can be biased?

Karyn: If it was the ladies/nuns, I would have to say…….“Bless our show.” When they all come together to give a blessing to prepare for the Pope, who is coming to see them perform; the solidarity and friendship that develops between the nuns and Deloris is heartbreakingly beautiful.
My favourite song from The Gangsters is…I think “Lady in the Long Black Dress“, it’s comedy gold!
And for the Ensemble piece….I adore “Spread the Love Around“. It’s the essence of what the show is all about.

EF: Dundalk Musical Society is a great place for expressing your creativity and love of the theatre. What have you learned and gained from being a part of the DMS?

Karyn: I joined at the tender age of 12 and have been involved for the last 22 years in some capacity. I started by selling programmes for the annual Panto and shows produced each year and then aged 15 I started on stage as part of the chorus in a Panto and learned the ropes from there. I then went to going onto shows as I got older and being in the chorus; progressing to getting small roles in Panto, finally building up to being a leading lady. When not on stage, I have been behind the scenes as part of the stage crew and learned the ropes there as well; eventually moving up to ASM (Assistant Stage Manager). I have enjoyed each show and learning curb along the way.
The musical society teaches you about stage etiquette and what is expected from you within a theatre; all the old traditions that are still in place in theatre land.

EF: Lastly, what is in store for you next? Any plans on the horizon?

Karyn: I could list the next 12 months but I won’t. Lol!! Firstly, I am ASM for our upcoming pantomime “Beauty and the Beast,” so this means starting the stage construction and gathering what’s needed, like props etc. The show is confirmed to take place at the An Táin Arts Centre, January 5th-12th in Dundalk.
Before that I have a Christmas concert with international award winning choir Clermont Chorale who are based here in Dundalk that is on the 13th December in Carlingford Heritage Centre at 4pm.
Lastly, I am also getting my own students ready for their annual Christmas concert, which is being held in the Studio Theatre in the An Táin Arts Centre on 19th December at 7:30.

EF: Thank you once again for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to answer these questions, and I’m sure I’ll see you again very soon. Best of luck Karyn.

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All I can say is WOWWWW!!! How busy is Karyn? I’ve never seen such a hard-working girl, balancing so much; all in the love of theatre. In the spirit of Sister Act, that lady is one Nun on the Run.

For all people looking to attend any of the above shows that Karyn mentioned, head straight on over to http://antain.ie/ where you can buy your tickets in advance to the shows commencing, and then pick them up at the box office before the performance. Each of the shows are destined to be just as successful as the last.

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I think I’m voicing everyone’s view when I say that we cannot wait to see Karyn on stage again, and we definitely all cannot wait for the Christmas/New Year Pantomime, as well as big stage musical performances for next year.

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Exclusive Interview with Sean Og Cairns from Dundalk Musical Society’s Sister Act: The Musical

imageAs you may all know, Dundalk Musical  Society’s production of Sister Act The Musical sadly finished it 6 day run last week. The rave reviews were coming in from all areas of the media, from newspapers, word of mouth on the town and on entertainment blogs like our own “Entertainment Fairy.”

I was over the moon for the entire cast to hear such a good reception from everyone, and as you may know, I immediately took my quill and ink; along with some fairy dust, and wasted no time in creating a 5 STAR review for these talented and unique bunch of artists.

After posting my review, I felt that the public who attended the musical would like to hear something from the cast themselves. After getting such dazzling compliments of his portrayal as one of Deloris van Cartier’s smooth assassins, I caught up with Sean Og Cairns after the production had ended to get his take on the role of TJ in Sister Act, and also to find out how much the Dundalk Musical Society means to him.

Entertainment Fairy (EF): Hi Sean, would it be ok to ask you a few questions about your time performing on stage at Sister Act?

Sean Og: Yes, of course. That’s no problem.

EF: What was your initial reaction to the 6 sell-out shows at The An Tain Theatre, Dundalk, County Louth?

Sean Og: It was absolutely exhilarating to sell out 6 shows. It added a new level of anticipation to the opening of the show each night. With a standing ovation at the end of every performance we did, and the highly praising reviews coming in, it really showed the level of support that the town of Dundalk has for it’s local Musical society.

EF: What was your favourite part about playing the character of TJ?

Sean Og: My favourite part about playing the role of TJ was his constant state of blissful ignorance and how, even through times of terror and dismay, he always managed to find the comedy in a situation. I found the role of TJ to be one that I could sink my teeth into, and most importantly, a role which I would thoroughly enjoy portraying.

EF: Were you a fan of the film and it’s West End/Broadway debut, before taking taking on one of the characters yourself?

Sean Og: You know, it’s funny. To this day, I’ve never actually seen the film of Sister Act. However, once I learnt that our upcoming production was going to be Sister Act The Musical, I immediately started doing my homework on the characters, the songs and of course, the Storyline. When I did this, I fell in love with the show; it’s feel good anthems, beautiful 4 piece harmony lines, the comedic relief, the beauty of the plot line and the sensational dance numbers. Above all, there is a sense of theatrical elation; I couldn’t help but clap along to “Raise Your Voice” and break my sides laughing to “Lady in the Long Black Dress,” whilst trying to gulp down the tears during the end of the reprise of “Fabulous Baby.” The musical has the power to make you laugh, cry, cheer, dance, sing, and most importantly, it makes you permanently catch the Theatre Bug. So in regards to the initial question… No I wasn’t a fan of the musical before being cast, but after I got the part, it quickly soared up my list of favourite musicals.

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EF: What is your favourite song of the entire musical, and of course, you can be biased?

Sean Og: My favourite song…now that’s a toughie. I suppose, at the end of the day, I’d have to say it is “Raise Your Voice.” Primarily because it has that power behind it and has the “wow factor” to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. The choreography and multiple harmonies are also breathtaking. Ultimately, it is during this musical number that the nuns get their first taste of Deloris’ musical prowess. They can’t believe what’s happening, and don’t know why she’s singing, but they like it. Soon after they can’t help but join in themselves. It’s also during this song that Sister Mary Robert, played by Niamh Craven, fights her fears, swallows her inhibitions and sings her heart out, which then adds a whole new dimension to her character.

EF: Dundalk Musical Society is a great place for expressing your creativity and love of theatre. What have you learned and gained from being a part of the DMS?

Sean Og: You can say that again! What Haven’t I learned and gained? I made my stage debut with the DMS, to begin with. I joined the 2013 pantomime “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” as a dancer, and since then I have not looked back. I owe so much to the DMS. It’s here I gained the confidence to stand up on stage in front of hundreds, and deliver a performance. It’s here I harnessed the different areas of the performing arts. I learned not only to do a show on stage, but to be part of the stage crew also, by becoming a team with everyone involved backstage. It’s here I began many, many friendships, that will last a lifetime. They welcomed me with open arms when I joined, and now they are like a second family. Each and every person in the DMS, I love. Always will.

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EF: So what’s next for you? Any plans?

Sean Og: Next on the cards for me is the Dundalk Musical Society’s pantomime “Beauty & The Beast.” I’m not quite sure how much I’m allowed to give away at the moment, but all I can say is, it’s going to be a cracker of a show, as always. I’m also a member of DCU’s Drama Society, so I’m sure I’ll have a few auditions lined up in the coming months. Who knows what’s next?

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EF: Sean, thank you so much for chatting to me for the Entertainment Fairy Blog. Well done on a wonderful and memorable performance, and we hope to see you soon.

Sean Og: Thank you very much, it was a pleasure.

So there you have it folks. I’m sure Everyone is with me when I say, “best of luck in your future performing career Sean. Your willingness to take part in this interview was much appreciated. Many thanks.”

For such a young man he seems to be already achieving his dreams and is proof that the Dundalk Musical society is a great outlet for people of all ages.

Maybe you are interested in singing, maybe you have a flair for dance or maybe you love the creative side of set production. Maybe the Dundalk Musical Society is for you.

“Always aim for the Moon, for when you do, you will sail among the Stars.”

Sister Act The Musical… An Tain Theatre Dundalk (Review)

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When it was announced on 2nd September 2015 that the wonderful Dundalk Musical Society, Co. Louth were creating a performance schedule of the much loved musical version of “Sister Act,” my heart leaped for joy, as it was one of my most favourite musicals and films of all time.

The moment tickets were released to the Box Office, eager theatre goers grabbed them up so quickly, that the An Tain Theatre had to allow for an extra Matinee performance on the last day. Running from 14th – 18th October, I had the pleasure of attending 2 performaces and I can ultimately say that I was blown away each time; firstly as a treat for myself and secondly to review it for my blog/website.

The script was flawless and the songs were out of this world. Never have I been to a musical that you immediately know the lyrics to each song after one listen. This is possibly due to the input of its talented composer, Alan Menkin; better known for creating the soundtracks from such movies as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Enchanted & Beauty & The Beast. So, now that we were sure of a great script and great musical score… How about the cast and performance?

“Spectacular” “Hilarious” “Tremendous” and “Awesome” were some of the words I heard attendees describe the performance on the night.

“Talented” “Stars” “Inspiring” and “A credit to our Town” were words used to describe its cast.

And truthfully, these overheard reviews from the theatre goers were spot on. Taking the lead as Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence was Carol McCourt; a well known performer in the Dundalk Musical Society, who had the sass, the class, and by god, she rocked that mass. Mother Superior was played by the powerful, breath-taking talent of Orlaith Crosbie, Niamh Craven played the young, delightful Sister Mary Robert, Olive Curran played straight talking, chapel rapping Sister Mary Lazarus and Karyn McCooey played the lovable part of Sister Mary Patrick, whose voice could bring you to new heights. Two outstanding performers were Paudie Breen who played Deloris’ love interest Eddie, whose musical and acting abilities were outstanding. And of course, who could forget Sean Og Cairns, who played the hilarious character of TJ. With an awesome voice and killer dance moves, he captivated the crowd with his take on one of Deloris’ captors.

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From the sassy, sexy opening numbers of “Take Me To Heaven” and “Fabulous Baby” to the emotional title song “Sister Act,” it’s clear to say I laughed, cried, giggled like a child and hooted like desperate housewife, with every single lyric. And I was not the only one… This being the Understatement of the year. The crowds had tears running down their face and their cheeks red with laughter.

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Now before I go further, due credit much be given to the entire cast. The actresses and actors who played the rest of the cast were outstanding, and just because I have not named every member of the DMS, it does not take away the utter awe and appreciation I have for them. Without the supporting cast, each number would not have had its impact, so these talented, amazing artists deserved the 6 standing ovations they received each performance. From the backing club singers, to the smooth talking villains…from the fellow nuns of Our Lady Queen of Angels & far-out boogie style parish priest, to the backstage angels themselves (the crew) …they all blew me away. Each member of the DMS played their role perfectly and you could not ask for more from this fabulous bunch of people.

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When the show came to an end; with An Tain Parishioners dancing and clapping in their rows, I had already gained a deep, permanent respect for the Dundalk Musical Society. I wanted to jump up on stage and dance my lil heart out beside them, to their foot-stomping, booty shaking, fist pumping and rosary-bead swinging final musical number, “Spread The Love Around.”

So with joy in my heart and love in my soul… Sister Act’s Performance at the An Tain Theatre, Dundalk County Louth… Receives a…

5 Star Rating * * * * *

(STAY TUNED FOR AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW FROM THE TALENTED CAST MEMBERS)

The Visit… I’m never visiting my Grandparents again

imageFor quite some time, I have searched high and low for a horror movie that would get your heart racing, as well as ensure your inability to sleep for days. After watching films like “The Conjuring” this set the bar quite high and I had much doubt about the silver screen creating another gem.

Enter THE VISIT! The movie basically follows two kids who have never met their grandparents due to familial disputes, as well as geographical distance. Rebecca and her younger brother Tyler set off with eager anticipation and excitement at meeting their mother’s parents for the first time. The trip starts with hugs, kisses and cookies; the usual occurrence when you push open the front door of your grandmother’s house.

Just as soon as you feel a familiar, genuine warmth to the elderly characters, things change. And I mean CHANGE! As time passes, they both start exhibiting disturbing tendencies, making the confused, frightened children more uncomfortable by the second. With each passing minute, the kids descend into a pit of fear and terror. With no-one around to help, it is up to these brave minors to discover the hidden secret of their grandparents behaviours, in their terrifying race against time.

After the cinema lights turned back on after the movie had ended, I realised I had more popcorn and chocolate around me than inside me; purely due to the suspense of the film. Apologies in advance to the IMC Dundalk Cinema Staff… you did not have a miniature snack explosion in Row R. That was just me.

Much credit needs to be given to the director, M. Night Shyamalan, who decided to record the entire film by character hand-held camera. It thankfully worked so well, as it makes the viewer feel they are in the movie themselves and adds to the suspense of the film.

This movie is still out in cinemas, but if you want to wait until it is released on DVD/Blu-Ray; where you can scream like a school-girl (ehhh boys??) and pee yourself in the comfort of your own living room…you will have to hold out until December 2015.

My last bit of advise I shall give before you view this cracker of cinematic excellence…

  1. Think twice before accepting an out-of-the-ordinary invitation to visit an unpredictable, reclusive family member
  2. When something looks CRAZY it probably is
  3. and most of all… if in doubt RUNNNNNNN!!!

RATING: 4 STARS * * * *

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