A scene from Phoenix Productions Bugsy Malone a few years ago.
The Thurles youth musical theatre group are celebrating 20 years in existence
With Thurles' youth musical theatre group Phoenix Productions currently in the throes of rehearsal for their up-coming show “Into the Woods”, perhaps it is time to take stock of this magnificent group and quote from another hit show, Mamma Mia, to simply say 'Thank you for the Music'.
You see, Phoenix Productions is twenty years old this year and what started out as an idea to bring young people into the theatrical fold, and to help with numbers for the Cathedral Folk Group, has grown into one of the great oak trees of the local community, which towers above, reaching for the skies, and yet whose roots have become an intrinsic part of the fabric of The Cathedral Town.
What Phoenix Productions has achieved is nothing short of spectacular. Leaving aside the outstanding shows which have charted the meteoric rise of the group - who could forget Cats, or High School Musical, Phantom of the Opera or Peter Pan? - the contribution to the local community in terms of giving teenagers a platform to display their endless talents, and a cause for which to expend their boundless energy, has been nothing short of outstanding. To see the performers grow before our eyes each and every year, and then those who have come of age, moving on to pastures new, but always with the Phoenix DNA ingrained - you don't leave Phoenix Productions, you simply outgrow the stage, but remain part of the story.
It has been so wonderful to witness the different generations of Phoenix come and go, to see the newcomers blossoming into the star performers and to see the many talents required to put on a great show, nurtured and developed. From sewing to building, painting to assembling, publicising to dressing, the list of jobs is endless and so are the talents of those who take on the responsibilities.
Gerard O'Brien, centre, pictured at an event in Thurles with Peter Ryan, Mary Hanafin, Sinead Ni Riain and Jim Ryan Anthony.
But, no ship can sail without someone to man the rudder - without Gerard O'Brien, Phoenix Productions would not have come to pass and without Mary Blake and her team, it would not have continued to illuminate the stage like a shining beacon.
Surely, this year of all years, is the time for Gerard, Mary and all those who have kept the ship afloat for the two decades of sailing, to take a well deserved bow - not to bow out mind, but to accept the applause of those who value and appreciate what it is they have created.
Phoenix Productions members will be working like demons over the coming weeks, getting ready for their August production in The Premier Hall. But, they will celebrate their 20 years in existence in November with a gala evening which is awaited with great anticipation - it's hard to beleive it is 20 years, but there you go .
For now, let's wait in anticipation of another fabulous show, details of which will follow in due course.