One of Galway’s most popular entertainers, Little John Nee takes on a new role next month, when he joins the cast of Decadent Theatre for the Irish premiere of Vernon God Little at the Town Hall Theatre.
This production, based on DBC Pierre’s Booker-winning 2003 satirical novel on American life, is directed by Decadent’s Artistic Director Andrew Flynn, following his recent success with Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, which premiered in Galway before a 50-show tour of Ireland.
This marks the first time John has worked with Decadent – the first time, really, that the writer and performer has ever worked on a theatre show that he hasn’t created himself.
He plays the part of Lally, a conman who befriends the teenage Vernon of the title after the youngster is suspected of being involved in mass shooting at a Texas high school and ends up on a version of death-row, driven by the rules of reality TV.
John also plays another, smaller but integral role as well as being part of the ensemble cast, where members take on multiple roles in the zany, fast-paced stage version, originally performed in London’s Young Vic Theatre in 2007.
“We all play a few parts except for Jarlath [Tivnan] who is Vernon,” John explains on a break from rehearsals. “It’s a very exciting cast, with several people from Fregoli Theatre and people who have worked with Andrew in the past. It’s a very vibrant group and I love the ensemble style of it.”
It’s not the first time John has been asked by other theatre companies to act in their productions, but he’s been busy with his own work until now.
However, he was open to being approached, and admired Andrew’s work, so the time was right. Also, because there is a live band in Vernon God Little – the three-piece Soprano Bats – and music is integral to John’s shows, the fit was a good one.
It is strange, however, to have to learn lines written by other people and to be working solely as an actor rather than a writer-director.
John’s own musical plays are collaborative, as he works with a team and takes people’s views on board, but this is different.
“With my work, it’s always my vision and now it’s not. But it’s exciting and it’s interesting learning other people’s lines,” he says about the script. That was adapted from the book, which John hadn’t read before signing up for the production. Since then he has read it and listened to the audio-book “to get a handle on it before going into rehearsals”.
While Decadent is using the Young Vic script, Andrew also relies a lot on the book in terms of capturing the story’s feeling, according to John.
“The temptation is to be really slapstick, but the writing is more subtle and Andrew is going for the story and the real humour and satire,” he explains. “Vernon God Little is a contemporary satire about American culture, where a young boy befriends an outsider and is something of an outsider himself.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be
Folk duo Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce are launching their new album What Will We Be, a blend of folk, Americana and acoustic music, this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in An Taibhdhearc.
The success of their well-received 2020 release Taobh le Taobh, as well as recent successes at the Pan Celtic and Oireachtas Song Contests, spurred the duo on to record this new album which represents many years of collaboration and musical development.
It features Niall and Pádraic on vocals, harmonies, and acoustic guitars, Maidhc Ó hÉanaigh on double bass and Neil Fitzgibbon on fiddle. The catchy title track, What Will We Be, features contributions from percussionist Jim Higgins (The Stunning, Christy Moore, Paul Brady) and haunting, driving melodies on vocals, guitar, and fiddle.
Themes of love and hope are woven through Come Away with Me which features interplay between piano and fiddle as well as rich vocal harmonies.
People, places, and broken dreams are celebrated and lamented on Martin and Tom, Guitar Gold, Memories of You and Achill Island. The influence of David Henry Thoreau’s novel Walden features on the tracks Simple and Wise and Walden, with the beauty of nature, escape and simple pleasures at their core.
The album moves from minimalistic folk ballads such as Galway Ghost to swirling, string-laden arrangements on the song Neptune, both of which are influenced by maritime tales from Galway. Much of the work on this album was supported by the Arts Council, including work with musical arranger Eoin Corcoran and the string ensemble Treo.
The album will be launched this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in an Taibhdhearc. Tickets €22, plus booking fee at Eventbrite.ie.
All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh
Dunmore is the place to be this weekend for lovers of traditional music, as the Galway County Fleadh will take place there from this Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 23.
It is 10 years since Dunmore last hosted a fleadh and the local Comhaltas branch, which has re-formed since Covid, is looking forward to facilitating this gathering of music, song, dance and craic.
The official Opening Concert will take place in Dunmore Town Hall this Friday at 8pm with the acclaimed Mulcahy family from Limerick. Mick, Louise and Michelle are well known throughout the country, thanks to their live performances, television appearances and numerous CDs. They were the winners of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Grúpa Ceoil Award for 2023. Tickets for their concert can be purchased on the door and a great night of music is promised.
Two days of competitions will kick off this Saturday at the town’s Community School, with more than 1,500 competitors taking part. Participants will be hoping to qualify for the Connacht Fleadh 2023, which will be held in Ballina, County Mayo, from June 23 to July 2.
Competitions for those aged Under 10, Under 12 and Under 15 will be held in a large variety of instruments on Saturday, as well as in singing and Comhrá Gaeilge. Sunday’s competitions will be for the Under 18 and Over 18 ages groups, as well as in dancing.
On both days a large entry is expected for Grúpaí Cheoil and Céilí Band competitions across all age groups.
Seventeen Comhaltas branches from across Galway will have participants in this weekend’s competitions, which will result in a large number of visitors to the Dunmore area.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the competitions, which offer a great opportunity to hear and see the talent on display. There will be sessions in local pubs over the weekend as well and everybody is welcome to attend these.
For more information on the County Fleadh, go to www.galwaycomhaltas.ie.
Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday
Music for Galway’s concert with renowned Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia which had been due to take place on April 27 but which had to be deferred, will now take place next Tuesday, May 23, at 8pm, in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the University of Galway.
This concert of German classics with Bach at its core, will brings the Bach element of Music for Galway’s 41st season to an end.
This world-class pianist who won the famous Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition, has a repertoire that spans many eras from baroque to contemporary and he is widely known for his elaborate programmes. Cédric Pescia describes music as ‘language and movement at the same time’.
Audiences will have a chance to experience his soft, clear touch as he performs a programme for solo piano that will include classics such as Schumann’s popular Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), a suite of nine short pieces, and the penultimate of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, No. 31. These pieces will be interspersed with French Suites by Bach.
■ Ticket for Cédric Pescia’s concert are available at www.musicforgalway.ie, or by phone 091 705962 and on the door on the night. They cost €20/€18. The price for fulltime students of all ages is €6 while MfG Friends can avail of the friends’ rate of €16.