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“INTO THE WOODS”

 

 

Our bi-annual Musical took place during the last week of October.   The following excellent article was written by Brian Byrne (C. IV), Myshall, who played a leading role in the show as the Narrator.   We hope he forgives any small additions that have been made!

Once upon a time, in a far-off kingdom. . .’

With those words were the curtains drawn back on FCJ Bunclody’s 2017 stage production of ‘Into the Woods’, Stephen Sondheim’s darker, less idealistic take on the Disney fairy tales of yore. ‘Into the Woods’ features a varied ensemble of characters, all connected by their common ambition; to see their wishes fulfilled, by whatever means necessary.

The story unfolds as Cinderella (Ellen Hutt, (B.V) Clonegal) wants so desperately to attend the King’s Festival, but is obstructed by her nefarious stepmother and half-sisters. Meanwhile, Jack (Niall Kehoe, (M. II) Marshalstown) wishes to travel the world and have adventures alongside his sole companion and confidant Milky-White, his cow, leaving his worried mother (Ciara Kinsella, (P.V) Camolin) and his dreary homestead behind him. The Baker (Niall Fogarty, (C.IV) Tullow) and his wife (Grace Kehoe – sister of Niall – (P.IV) Marshalstown) must abide by the neighbouring Witch’s (Kate Power – Winner of the Best Actress Award at this years All Ireland Drama Finals in Athlone) (V.VI), Ballyrankin) ambiguous agenda should they wish to have a child. Finally, Little Red Riding-hood (Róisín Barry, (B.VI), Kildavin – Winner of the Adjudicators Special Award at the 2012 All Ireland Drama Finals in Athlone) endeavours only to visit her isolated grandmother who lives deep in the woods, but will the menacing allure of the forest entice her to stray from the path?   As the narrative progresses our heroes are embroiled in the treacherous environment that has manifested itself in the seemingly peaceful forest. They all discover in time that their choices carry with them unforeseen and terrible consequences.

Our production of ‘Into the Woods’ was especially ambitious in that it featured a chorus that starred alongside the principal cast. Thus, it fell to our choreographer Ms. Gemma Grant to not only instruct both principals and the chorus with regards to their routines, but also to integrate this 60- strong group into the narrative. As wolves stalked the aisles and lords and ladies danced at the ball in all their finery (courtesy of our costume department headed by Ms. Kay O’Connor and Ms. Stephanie O’Dwyer), our audience was treated to a spectacular celebration of the musical and dramatic tradition of our school.

The accomplishments of the set construction team, led by Mr. Daithi Flynn, cannot be overstated, as they so effectively portrayed the world and the setting, immersing the audience in a fantastic and intriguing kingdom from the moment they entered the concert hall.   Ms. Gail Connolly and Mr Niall Ó’Muirí  supervised set design & painting, while Mr. Kevin McEvoy, our lighting director and a past pupil, illuminated the stage in the emerald greens of the forest.

The show could not go on but for the immense amount of voluntary work of so many students and teachers who played an integral role offstage by overseeing microphones, lighting, props and makeup, before and during the performances. Under the guidance of Mr. Tomás Earls, our director and producer, the 20 principal actors were assisted in interpreting their characters and memorising lines – a herculean feat on his part, given the complexity and breadth of our tale. Finally, to accommodate the diverse selection of musical arrangements, Mr. Dale Hennessey and his team of musicians collaborated with the entirety of the cast and chorus to bring the tremendous score to life, culminating in seven thrilling and exhilarating performances, for both audiences and performers alike.    For the first time ever the orchestra had a proper pit for the performances.   Thanks to the work of the construction department, it was set into the floor in front of the stage.    Weeks later there is no sign of the pit, where the floor has been skillfully replaced until it is needed again.

At this point I find myself reflecting on the entire process, a relatively short period that encompassed a mere six weeks and yet, a time that was packed to bursting with so many unforgettable memories and shared experiences. The impromptu speeches that spurred us onto great things before every performance, or the spontaneous song and dance routines the cast was prone to, will remain with me forever, as will the vivid recollection of that stage, of the music and of every single person involved. . . and the odd controversy, but what happens in the woods, stays in the woods.

Now, it’s all over. The stage is bare and I can’t help but be reminded of the undertaking each and every time I pass the concert hall, and I know that, given the opportunity, we’d gladly do it all again.

He who moves not forward goes backward. Much as the cast of 2015’s production, Back to the 80s, made way for the latest selection of performers, it’s time to look to the future, and come 2019, under the confident tutelage of the diligent and dedicated teachers and staff of FCJ Bunclody, a new generation of performers will arise, eager to perform for a new audience. Until then, we all have quite the experience to recount, as we chase new opportunities, and face new challenges. Considering FCJ’s 50 year dramatic heritage, ‘Into the Woods’ stands proudly amongst the greatest shows of the past half century and we, the cast and crew, are so proud to have been a part of it.

Other principals included:

Narrator: Brian Byrne (C.IV), Myshall

Cinderella’s Father: Paraic Nolan (B.IV), Bunclody

Cinderella’s Mother (and voice of Giant): Sarah Kealy (A.V), Knockananna

Cinderella’s Prince: William Dunne (A.V), Clohamon

Florinda: Kate Wibbe (A.IV), Hacketstown                                              

Granny: Eimear Harrington (P.V), Clonegal

Lucinda: Chloe Kavanagh (B.VI), Knockaree                                  

Mysterious Man: Ben Kavanagh (C.II), Ballindaggin

Rapunzel: Paulina Skiersinis (A.IV), Bunclody

Rapunzel’s Prince: Leon Malone (P.IV), Camolin

Stepmother: Paige Prinsloo (V.V), Bunclody                                  

Steward: Emmanuel Njoku (P.V), Ferns

The Wolf:  Daithi Medcalf (C.VI), Enniscorthy

 

 


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FCJ Secondary School,
Bunclody,
Enniscorthy,
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Tel: (+353)53-9377308
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