Last night we went to our little local theatre, the Playhouse Weston-super-Mare. It’s an interesting theatre, seating over six hundred and was opened in 1969 – built on the site of the previous theatre which had burned down. The previous theatre was smaller and had been converted from a market building designed by our famous local architect, Hans Fowler Price. This theatre had opened after the war in 1946 when Weston was still a very popular seaside town and many iconic entertainers graced the boards, including Frankie Howerd (who retired to the village of Cross, not far from Weston) Bob Monkhouse and the late Sir Ken Dodd. Other stars, proabably unknown to many of the present day audiences included Leslie Crowther, Brian Rix, Dickie Henderson, Terry Scott and Richard Todd – star of T’he Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’.
These days the theatre hosts an amazing variety of different shows, from local drama and opera groups, to touring performances, plays, ballet, music and of course, the annual pantomime. Last night we went to a musical evening based on the famous Irish band the Dubliners; ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ told the story of the band through narrative, reminiscences, dramatic episodes and of course their music! In a way it was a tribute performance but in fact it was more than that.
I didn’t know what to expect – I knew a few of the Dubliners’ most famous songs, including, obviously, ”Seven Drunken Nights’. It’s a really excellent show, the performances, the singing, the brilliant musicians and most of all the way the ‘players’ engaged with the audience. It cracked along smartly at a fair old pace and while action took place, with a set reminiscent of an old Irish pub and latterly a recording studio, there were old movie images playing across the back drop.
Ged Graham was the main narrator and lead vocalist, and sharing the narration and singing was Danny Muldoon. Billy Barton added reminiscences as his father was a great musician and part of the 1950’s and 60’s Dublin music scene and Billy knew from being a child many of the original Dubliners. Paddy Ryan was an incredible player and had a powerful voice, very different from the others which was a wonderful contrast. No Irish music would be complete without a fiddler, and Conor Elliot was fantastic. There was extra member of the cast, Max Grey who was barman/sound engineer/cameraman etc and also manned the merch stall!
The Weston audience has to have a little accolade, they applauded, they sang along, they laughed at the jokes and they were on their feet for the last few numbers and gave a very appreciative standing ovation!
Here is a link to their site: