Moyna Macgill (McIldowie)
Born Belfast 10th December 1895
Died Los Angeles 25th November 1975
Obdurate and methodical character player, whose career although not glittering, will probably be forgotten and instead will be unfairly remembered as the mother of Angela Lansbury. She was on stage at the end of WW1, making her debut in a supporting role in the Somerset Maugham comedy ‘Love in a Cottage’, at the Globe Theatre London in 1918. Other notable London stage appearances between 1920/22 included an adaptation of George Meredith’s drama ‘ Rhoda Fleming ‘ at the Ambassadors Theatre in 1920 and ‘Angelo: The Romance of a Great Composer ‘ at Drury Lane 1922. Her 1920 introduction to films was equally significant, taking the female lead in the Welsh/Pearson silent ‘Garryowen’, a horse racing drama directed by George Pearson, going on to appear in several more dramas in the early twenties and had another starring role in her final silent production, ‘Miriam Rozelle’ 1924.
In the latter half of the decade she continued to make a modest impression on the London stage, with roles in ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ at the Barnes Theatre 1926 and two West End appearances in 1927, ‘The Great God Brown’ with John Gielgud, at the Strand Theatre and the long running ‘Interference’ at St James’ Theatre. Her first marriage to actor/writer Reginald Denham ended in 1924 after seven years and soon afterwards she married Edgar Lansbury, the son of Labour party leader George Lansbury.
This union lasted until Lansbury’s death in 1934 and produced three children, the eldest of which was Angela, born in 1925 but her career, shelved from the late twenties due to family commitments, was by the end of the thirties all but defunct. Another relationship around this time brought no stability to her life and in 1942, together with her children, including Isolde, a daughter fom her first marriage, she abruptly left England, hoping to re-invent herself in America.
With no work permit she was unable to ply her trade in the United States for several months, but was fortunate to find at least a period of job security with a part in a Canadian theatre company’s tour of the provinces in Noel Coward’s ten one-act playlets, entitled ‘ Tonight At 8-30 ‘. A year later RKO offered her a minor role in the WW2 London set drama ‘Forever and a Day’ 1943, which brought her to the hub of the film industry and more importantly a chance to resurrect her screen career after a gap of eighteen years. Between then and 1945 she appeared in nine feature films, working out of contract for almost all of the major studios in Hollywood.
These included ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ and director Clarence Brown’s Academy Award winning ‘National Velvet’, all 1944 the latter with teenage daughter Angela Lansbury and noteworthy also for the first starring role of twelve year old Elizabeth Taylor. 1945 was slightly better in terms of role significance, the best of which was her Hester Quincey, in director Robert Siodmak’s ‘The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry’, although she managed to work with her daughter again in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, for which Lansbury won a Best Supporting Oscar. This period would prove to be her most industrious, as the latter half of the decade yielded nothing of consequence, save a co-starring role in the Fred M.Wilcox directed musical ‘Three Daring Daughters’ 1948, starring star on the wane Jeanette Macdonald.
Her big screen aspirations finally floundered in a handful of B features during 1951/52 but she did have her moment on the Broadway stage, cast as Lady Brockhurst in director Anton Coppola’s production of English born composer Sandy Wilson’s ‘The Boyfriend’, at the Royale Theatre in 1954. She found scraps of work on television and made her first small screen appearance as a dressmaker in an episode of the enduring drama series ‘Studio One’ in 1956. Further infrequent guest appearances during the early sixties included top rated series such as ‘The Twilight Zone’ 1962, ‘Dr Kildare’ 1963 and ‘My Favourite Martian’ 1964.
A brief return to films in 1964 saw her bow out in style in two successful musicals, with a marginal role in ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ and as Lady Boxington in George Cukor’s oscar winning ‘My Fair Lady’, featuring the surprisingly harmonious partnership of Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. Moyna Macgill was an able but luckless actor, who was brave enough at age forty seven and with the none too trifling pressure of four children, to undertake and establish, largely without the comfort of a contract, a relatively modest career in the maelstrom of forties Hollywood.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– Will Shakespeare(1921) Shaftesbury Theatre, London
– Pagan in the Parlour(1952) Theatre Royal, Bath
– Nothing Else Matters (1920)
– Should a Doctor Tell (1923)
– The Uninvited (1944)
– Winged Victory (1944)
– The Clock (1945)
– Black Beauty (1946)
– Green Dolphin Street (1947)
– Kind Lady (1951)
– Adventures in Paradise (1959)
– Mr Ed (1963)
Born Fermanagh 6th April 1889
Died Los Angeles 22nd February 1971
Unprepossessing character actor who had a protracted if functional Broadway career, which from the early twenties ran in tandem with a raft of minor Hollywood screen appearances encompassing both silence and sound. He was on the American stage as early as 1912 as a member of English actor Constance Crawley’s travelling company, specialising in Shakespearean roles.
His New York stage debut, an uncredited role in Jacques Coinis’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’at the 44th Street Theatre in 1915, was followed by another low key credit in ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ at the Park Theatre in 1917. The following year he appeared in the long running ‘The Betrothal’, first at the Shubert, later transferring to the Century Theatre in a cast which also featured the teenaged and prospective Hollywood star, Gladys George.
In the early twenties he took a number of medial roles in diverse productions such as ‘The Mandarin’ at the Princess Theatre and was Tom Rainey in a decent revival of St. John Greer Ervine’s Belfast set tragedy ‘Mixed Marriage’ at the Bramhall Playhouse, both 1920. Small roles in two major productions. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at the Longacre Theatre 1922, starring Ethel Barrymore and ‘Macbeth’ at the 48th Street Theatre in 1924, more or less cemented his status as an enthusiastic and dependable utility player.
His first taste of the fast and furious world of screen acting came with his 1923 debut as Looney Luke in director Henry King’s adventure yarn ‘Fury’, notable only for the curiosity value of the film’s leading man, Tyrone Power Snr. After this experience he returned to the New York stage and it would be a period of six years and the advent of sound before his Hollywood journey could resume in earnest. Among his better theatre work in the latter half of the twenties were, ‘Outside Looking In’, a fast moving comedy presented first at the Greenwich Village Theatre and then the 39th St Theatre in 1925 and his Johnny Boyle in ‘Juno and the Paycock’ at the Mayfair Theatre in 1926.
The Hollywood he returned to in 1929 had now changed beyond recognition and was attracting the great and good from the world of theatre. His talkie debut that year was similarly low key, playing a character called Dogface in director Robert Flory’s mystery drama ‘The Hole in the Wall’, starring Edward G. Robinson and French starlet Claudette Colbert. He worked on another film ‘Secrets of a Secretary 1931, but once again his passion for the stage took him back to New York, where for a further six years he would ply his trade in some of Broadway’s most prestigious venues.
Between 1931 and 1934 his versatility was tested in a raft of productions across the genres. At the Guild Theatre in 1931 he enjoyed a long run in the sumptuous ‘Elizabeth the Queen’, in a cast headed by American Theatre’s golden couple, Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt and the same year appeared at the Longacre Theatre as Cokey Davis , in his own production, the short lived and rather flat comedy ‘In Times Square’. Two roles in plays by Northern Ireland writers then allowed him the freedom of his Ulster dialect, playing Willie in Denis Johnston’s ‘The Moon in the Yellow River’ at the Guild Theatre in 1932 and ‘Clutie’ John McGrath in St. John Greer Ervine’s Co.Down set ‘John Ferguson’ at the Belmont Theatre in 1933.
He made four more appearances on Broadway in the thirties before his departure once again to Hollywood, where his stay this time would be much longer than he probably anticipated. Before that however he was part of a huge cast convened at the National Theatre New York in 1934 for Sean O’Casey’s drama ‘Within the Gates’, which ran for a total of 141 performances and followed this with the role of Thomas Murphy in Elsie Schauffler’s ‘Parnell’ at the Ethel Barrymore in 1935. He found work readily in the now hectic confines of Hollywood, making three films in 1937, the most significant in terms of credit rating being director Albert S.Rogell’s ‘Murder in Greenwich Village’.
In the last two years of the thirties he had a crash course in screen character playing, working on almost every conceivable narrative theme, including the French period swashbuckler, ‘If I Were King’, with Ronald Colman and Basil Rathbone and a western ,‘Ride a Crooked Mile’, both 1938. He also had a minor role in William A. Wellman’s star studded and Oscar nominated desert epic, ‘Beau Geste’ 1939, but still entered the forties at the lower end of an increasingly expansive actors stockpile. Following three largely forgettable films, the best of which was the Abbott and Costello vehicle ‘It Aint Hay’, he saw his star rise briefly with director Andrew L. Stone’s superior comedy ‘Hi Diddle Diddle’, starring fading silent star Pola Negri and a co-starring role as Dr. Harvey Keating in the cult horror ‘Revenge of the Zombies’, all 1943.
His reward was a notional leg-up the credits in 1944 ,with also starring roles in the Oscar nominated ‘Kismet’ and the Oscar winning, Elizabeth Taylor breakthrough film ‘National Velvet’. He also made a short run return to New York that year, appearing as Archie Campbell in Frederick Jackson’s flimsy comedy ‘Slightly Scandalous’, which lasted barely a week at the National Theatre. A better stage/screen work balance was realized during the remainder of the forties and included Broadway successes ‘Happily Ever After’ at the Bilt Theatre 1945 and ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ at the Booth Theatre in 1946, in which he shared the stage with promising Belfast born Abbey Player, Eithne Dunne.
On screen he was seen momentarily in the adventure drama ‘Two Years Before The Mast’ 1946 and had an improved rating in George Cukor’s excellent ‘A Double Life’ 1947, which netted an Oscar for leading man Ronald Colman. In 1949/50 he made guest appearances in several teleplay format productions made popular by the de riguer casting of notable Hollywood stars of the day. His big screen CV, in need of a sharp infusion of superior product, was given a boost albeit tenuously with two very different roles, he was Lee J. Cobb’s banker ‘JP ‘ Morgan in Elia Kazan’s seminal ‘On the Waterfront’ 1954 and a Hebrew slave in Cecil B. DeMille’s biblical extravaganza ‘The Ten Commandments’ 1956.
Theatre work was virtually non-existent in the latter half of the fifties, save a subsidiary role as Foster in Sean O’Casey’s well travelled ‘Red Roses For Me’, presented at the Booth Theatre New York in 1956. Television would dominate the last years of his career and his cameo as Patsy Kelly in a 1965 episode of the ground breaking Liverpool set police series ‘Z Cars’ was to say the least curious. His Broadway swansong and indeed his last gestures as an actor were played out in style at the Broadhurst Theatre New York in 1967, where as Jamie Cregan he appeared alongside Ingrid Bergman in Eugene O’Neill’s ‘More Stately Mansions’, the unfinished and posthumously abridged sequel to his 1958 play ‘A Touch of the Poet’
Barry Macollum in fairness was a more natural performer on stage than screen, where his rather stilted manner often produced moments of awkwardness, but he did manage to survive for over fifty years working in both citadels of the American performing arts industry.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– The Shadow (1922) Klaw Theatre
– Loggerhead s(1925) Cherrylane Theatre
– The Banshee (1927) Daly’s 63rd St Theatre
– Mr Gilhooley (1930) Broadhurst Theatre
– Doctor X (1931) Hudson Theatre
– The Joyous Season (1934) Belasco Theatre
– Love on the Dole (1936) Shubert Theatre
– Much Ado About Nothing (1952) Music Box Theatre
– Bulldog Drummond (1937)
– Tarnished Angel (1938)
– Rulers Of The Sea (1939)
– Marine Raiders (1944)
– Going My Way (1963)
– Dr.Kildare (1964)
-The Girl From Uncle (1967)
Patrick Magee (McGee)
Born Armagh 31st March 1922
Died London 14th August 1982
Saturnine and compelling character actor, who was an internationally respected exponent of the plays of Samuel Beckett. He was yet another who learned his trade with the Group Players, making an early appearance as Maton in George Shiels’ ‘Mountain Post’ 1948. He spent almost three years with the company, during which he appeared in many critically acclaimed productions, including Harry Sinton Gibson’s ‘Bannister’s Cafe’ 1949 and ‘The Square Peg’ 1950. In 1951 he joined several Group actors, who under the auspices of Tyrone Guthrie, appeared in a series of Irish plays presented at the Lyric Hammersmith as part of the Festival Of Britain.
Preferring to remain in England, he eked out a living in repertory theatre, before a minor breakthrough, when he was cast in Ugo Betti’s ‘The Queen and the Rebels’ at the Theatre Royal Hammersmith in 1955. 1958 proved a watershed year for him, making his film debut as Flynn in director Lance Comfort’s ‘Rag Doll’, appearing with Jack Macgowran in ‘ The Iceman Cometh’ at the Arts Theatre Club and more significantly, a Royal Court appearance in Beckett’s ‘Krapps Last Tape’, a play the author wrote specifically with him in mind. In Joseph Losey’s hard hitting prison drama ‘The Criminal’ 1960, starring Stanley Baker, Magee as Chief Warder Barrows, created a persona he was to manipulate for most of his film career.
His television baptism was forgettable, appearing as Jason in an episode of the unremarkable thriller series ‘Here Lies Miss Sabry 1960 but he did enjoy a huge increase in work offers from that point on. He appeared in several films now considered classics of sixties British cinema, such as ‘The Servant’ 1963, ‘Seance on a Wet Afternoon’ 1964, ‘Marat Sade’ 1967 and as Seamus McCann in Harold Pinter’s ‘The Birthday Party’ 1968. His theatre standing was also enhanced during this period, with appearances at the Apollo in ‘A Whistle in the Dark’ 1961 and David Rudkin’s ‘Afore Night Come’ at the Aldwych in 1964.
That same year he joined the RSC and appeared again at the Aldwych, in the 1964 stage version of ‘The Birthday Party’, memorably putting his stamp on the character of McCann, a role he reprised in the film version four years later. In 1965 at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York, he gave what was arguably the most accurate interpretation of the Marquis de Sade, in Peter Brook’s cast laden production of Marat/Sade, for which he deservedly won a Tony award. During the seventies his screen output included two films for Stanley Kubrick, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ 1971 and the unfairly maligned ‘Barry Lyndon’ 1975, in which he gave a superb cameo as the libertine Chevalier De Balibari, perfectly capturing the character in both nuance and mood.
On television he was never short of offers, appearing in ‘ The Caucasian Chalk Circle’ 1973, in the title role of director Tony Davenall’s adaptation of ‘King Lear’ and as Ebenezer Balfour in the mini series ‘Kidnapped’ 1978. In ‘Endgame’ at the Royal Court in 1976, in a cast which included Stephen Rea, he once again demonstrated his mastery of Beckett’s work, giving a magisterial perfomance as the tyrannical Hamm, a role he first played at the Aldwych in 1964. Film work in the eighties included two flawless cameos, Reverend Slodden in Vivian Stanshall’s black comedy ‘Sir Henry at Rawlinsons End’ 1980 and Lord Cadogan in the Oscar winning ‘Chariots of Fire’ 1981. His last appearance was in writer/director Alan Gibson’s television play ‘Another Flip for Dominick’ screened in late 1982. Sadly in the summer of that year at the relatively young age of sixty, Patrick Magee died of a massive heart attack. He will be remembered as an actor, who with his probing gaze and lazy mouth, delivered the sinister element, right down to its darkened soul.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– Puntila(1965) RSC Aldwych Theatre, London
– Staircase (1966) Old Vic, London
– The Meteor(1966) RSC Aldwych Theatre, London
– Keep It in the Family (1967) Plymouth Theatre, New York
– Dutch Uncle(1969) Aldwych Theatre, London
– The Battle of Shrivings (1970) Lyric Theatre, London
– The Master Builder(1974) Thorndike Theatre, Leatherhead
– The White Devil(1975) RSC Old Vic, London
– Dementia 13 (1963)
– Zulu (1964)
– Cromwell (1970)
– King Lear (1971)
– Young Winston (1972)
– Telefon (1977)
– Dixon of Dock Green (1964)
– Canterbury Tales (1969)
– Thriller (1974)
– Oresteia (1979)
J.R. (Jimmy) Mageean
*Born Saintfield 1887
*Died Los Angeles 1972
Slight of stature character player and highly proficient interpreter of Ulster types, with a fine line in stage and screen comedy, who forged his name with the Ulster Literary Theatre Company in the twenties, Belfast Repertory Company in the thirties and later the Northern Irish Players, before securing senior status with the Group Players during the forties and fifties. Before that he was a valued member of Frank Benson’s Shakespeare Company, appearing at the annual Stratford-Upon-Avon Festival from 1911 until 1915, making his debut as Petruchio’s servant Nathaniel in ‘The Taming of the Shrew ‘ in July 1911. An early London stage appearance saw him prop up a reputable credit list headed by future English stage behemoth Basil Rathbone, in Frank Benson’s production of Henry V, at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London in 1914.
Despite this exalted beginning, he found life as an actor frustratingly unreliable and returned to Ireland after WWI, becoming an able supporting player with the Ulster Literary Theatre Company, registering some fine performances in the early twenties, including his role as Gnu in Rutherford Mayne’s bronze age set curiosity, ‘Phantoms’ at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin in 1923. The following year at the same theatre he appeared in two further productions, taking a leading role as Captain James Cornelius in St John Ervine’s ‘The Ship’ and as New York Italian, Antonio Chiapetta in Dorothea Donn-Byrne’s Irish-American rooted comedy, ‘The Land of the Stranger’.
By the late twenties he was central to much of the activities of the Ulster Literary Theatre Company and was receiving regular plaudits in plays such as Gerald McNamara’s ‘No Surrender’ 1928 and ‘Who Fears to Speak’ 1929, both presented at the Grand Opera House, Belfast.
In the early thirties he transferred allegiance to Richard Hayward’s newly formed Belfast Repertory Company, which basically replicated the strategy of his former employers, by showcasing the work of new and established local writers on the premier stages of Belfast and Dublin. One of those championed by Hayward was Sandy Row born and former shipyard worker Thomas Carnduff, whose penetrating studies of the Protestant working class struck a chord with audiences in the hungry thirties.
Mageean appeared in two such plays, ‘Workers’, at the Abbey in 1932 and ‘Traitors’ at the Empire in Belfast in 1934 and at the same venue in 1937 played Joe Anderson in Hugh Quinn’s ‘A Quiet Twelfth’, which after eight years ended his association with the innovative but itinerant Belfast Repertory Theatre Company. By the end of 1937 he had also become a veteran of seven homespun, shoestring budget films, unkindly labelled quota quickies, from the Lilliputian studios of Crusade and Fox.
His debut was as Sir Brian O’Neill, in director Donovan Pedelty’s Co Antrim set period melodrama ‘The Luck of the Irish’ 1935, which starred and was co-produced by his Belfast Repertory colleague Richard Hayward. He followed this with top billing in another Donovan Pedelty film, a stilted adaptation of James McGregor Douglas’ comedy play, ‘The Early Bird’ 1936 . With the exception of director Roy Kellino’s ‘Catch As Catch Can’ and his third Pedelty effort ‘Landslide’, both 1937, he found little or no comfort in the quality of screen work available to him.
In the evolving years of the Group Players he surprisingly assumed a less obvious role, with a position on the Board Of Directors and as producer of a handful of plays, including the early work of Joseph Tomelty. He waited until the 1950s before making regular appearances in Group productions such as his own co-written comedy ‘Arty’, with James Young in the title role and Janet McNeill’s ‘Signs and Wonders’ both 1951. The period until 1955 offered him many opportunities to shine and included at least two Group classics, Michael J. Murphy’s ‘Dust Under Our Feet’ 1953 and Joseph Tomelty’s ‘Is the Priest at Home ? ‘ 1954. Both plays featured the cream of the Group Players, including J.G. Devlin, Elizabeth Begley, Margaret D’Arcy and Harold Goldblatt.
After a considerable absence from films, he returned for what proved to be his final appearance, taking a small role in the David Niven/ Barry Fitzgerald begorrah romp, ‘Happy Ever After’ 1954 and a year later in one of his last roles in local theatre, played Mr Appleton in Patricia O’Connor’s ‘ The Farmer Wants a Wife’, at the Group in March 1955.
In 1959, with his career all but over, he made an unremarkable television debut in an episode of CBS’ Westinghouse/Desilu Playhouse drama series and following another more substantial television role as a rather elderly criminal in the crime drama series ‘ The Untouchables’ in 1960, he effectively ended a career which began a few years before WW1 and embraced the golden years of Ulster theatre.
Other Theatre and Film credits:
– The Early Bird(1936) Empire Theatre, Belfast
– All Souls’ Night(1948) Group Theatre, Belfast
– My Brother Tom(1952) Group Theatre, Belfast
– Ballyfarland’s Festival(1953) Group Theatre, Belfast
– The Season’s Geetings(1953) Group Theatre, Belfast
– Mrs. Martin’s Man (1954) Group Theatre, Belfast
– Macushla (1937)
– Against the Tide (1937)
– My Wife’s Family (1956)
Died Dublin 10th January 2012
Poised and unflagging stage and screen actor, a Lyric Theatre Player in the early sixties, who cut his teeth in regional rep in England, later enjoying some relative success in London’s West End. He had an ensemble role as servant Leonardo in the Shaftesbury Theatre production of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ in 1964 and then took dual parts in the RSC’s staging of Robert Bolt’s children’s play ‘The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew’ at the Aldwych in December 1965.
Television work soon followed, with his debut as Philip, opposite Elizabeth Begley in Stewart Love’s ‘The Sugar Cube’, an episode of ‘Thirty Minute Theatre’ screened in February 1966. Two further television appearances saw him in a low-key credit in the series ‘Mogul’, aka The Troubleshooters’ in 1966 and a co-starring role as Johnson in a UTV production of John D. Stewart’s Co. Armagh shot, campy parochial comedy, ‘Boatman Do Not Tarry’in 1968, with a heavyweight local cast including Elizabeth Begley, J.G. Devlin and Patrick McAlliney as the on-strike ferryman, John Corby.
At the Royal Court, London in 1969, he was enveloped in a huge cast in writer Frank Norman’s prison drama ‘Inside Out’, overseen by the young avant garde director Ken Campbell. A year later and still at the Royal Court, he rubbed shoulders with Paul Schofield and Colin Blakely in Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’, directed by Anthony Page.
Between 1971 and 1975 he worked continuously on television and added two feature films to his burgeoning CV, albeit for the most part in a low profile capacity. The most significant of these were arguably as Ian McCullum in James Costigan’s Belfast set television drama ‘A War of Children’ in 1972 and as Irish cabinet minister’s son Brian Menton, in Dominic Behan’s political thriller ‘According to the Rules’, an ‘Armchair Theatre’ episode in 1974. A short sojourn with the National Theatre in 1977, saw him on the Olivier stage as Captain Brennan, with J.G. Devlin as Peter Flynn in director Bill Brydon’s celebrated adaptation of ‘The Plough and the Stars’ and as Jimmo in John Mackendrick’s child murder play, ‘Lavender Blue’ at the Cottesloe.
Another glut of screen credits through the end of the seventies, were short on quality and only his recurring role as Don Stevenson in Kenneth Royce’s crime thriller series ‘The XYY Man’, 1977 and as a Shrieve in the four episodes of the Doctor Who story, ‘The Ribos Operation’ 1978, were of any consequence. He returned to Ireland in 1979, appearing as Pearse Crowe at the Eblana Theatre, Dublin, in Brian Lynch’s social drama, ‘Crooked in a Car Seat’, a Dublin Theatre Festival presentation for that year. Prior to his protracted spell on the Irish stage in the early eighties, he was offered a peripheral role as Imperial Guard, Cabbel in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, George Lucas’ 1980 follow- up to the game changing spectacular, ‘Star Wars’ in 1977.
Key performances during this new chapter in local theatre, included his steadfast union activist John Graham, in Martin Lynch’s ‘Dockers’ at the Lyric in January 1981 and at the Oscar Theatre, Dublin in September of that year, played Walter, in Declan Burke-Kennedy’s Dublin Theatre Festival contribution, ‘The Wind That Shook the Barley’. He made two other appearances in Belfast/Dublin theatres in 1982 and was persuasive as RUC Special Branch officer Stanley, in Martin Lynch’s challenging, ‘The Interrogation of Ambrose Fogarty’ at the Lyric and at the Olympia, took the role of Tony Sleehaun in Hugh Leonard’s unconvincing political allegory ‘Kill’.
Following minor involvement in Willy Russell’s Oscar nominated ‘Educating Rita’ in 1983, he was cast as Father Gene in the 1984 television docudrama ‘Children in the Crossfire’, an early cross- community promotional film, co-produced by ‘Hill Street Blues’ actor Charles Haid. Between 1985/88, he was in television overdrive, but still disappointingly fell short of a leading role. The best he could muster during this productive period was as a Co. Roscommon garda sergeant in John McGahern’s emotive drama ‘The Rockingham Shoot’ in 1987 and his IRA chief in the thriller ‘Act of Betrayal’ in 1988.
On stage he was die- hard protestant and 36th Ulster Division volunteer George Anderson, in the premiere of Frank McGuinness’ imposing WWI narrative, ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme’, presented at the Abbey in 1985. Again at the Abbey in 1988, he played the objectionable father in Sebastian Barry’s debut play, the reflective rural Ireland drama, ‘Boss Grady’s Boys’.
He was just as busy on screen in the nineties, though with his profile still below the radar, however he did manage to secure roles in most of the major Irish produced films of the decade. He appeared fleetingly as a detective in Jim Sheridan’s 1993 autobiographical feature ‘In the Name of the Father’, based on Gerry Conlon’s 1990 Guildford Four exposition ‘Proved Innocent’. He played another police officer in Hugh Leonard’s 1994 comedy/mystery ‘Widows Peak’, starring Joan Plowright and Adrian Dunbar, then followed other supporting roles in a series of bleak, uncompromising films, graphically depicting the violence and despair of the troubles. Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s ‘Nothing Personal’ in 1995, with Michael Gambon and John Lynch, was perhaps a trifle clichéd, with his credit as Marty barely registering. Another lightning quick sighting as Independent Republican MP Frank Maguire in writer/director Terry George’s hunger strike chronicle, ‘Some Mother’s Son’ in 1996, preceded his transitory role as a prison governor in Jim Sheridan’s 1997 Golden Globe nominated ‘The Boxer’, enhanced by a tour de force performance from lead, Daniel Day- Lewis.
At the end of the nineties he was given a functional cameo, listed as Confessional Priest, in Alan Parker’s ‘Angela’s Ashes’, adapted from Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name and in 2003 was cast as the eccentric tenant, Russell, in three episodes of the popular RTE comedy/drama series ‘Bachelors Walk’. His final screen credit was unfortunately as routine as before, playing the fractious Bomber Brennan’s father, Victor, in another RTE produced series, the forceful Co Offaly set drama, ‘Pure Mule’ in 2005. Oliver Maguire’s screen efforts were many and varied, but in the main were critically without any meaningful degree of substance. He was clearly more respected in theatre and recorded a number of sterling performances during his committed and appreciable career.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
-The Merry-Go-Round(1973) Royal Court, London
-And Then Came Jonathan(1980) John Player Theatre, Dublin
-Many Young Men of Twenty(1983) Olympia Theatre, Dublin
-The Hidden Curriculum(1983) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-The Oval Machine(1986) Project Arts, Dublin
-Dialann Ocrais(1987) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-Waiting for Godot(1989) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-The Thirty Nine Steps(1978)
-The End of the World Man(1986)
-The Last of the High Kings(1996)
-We’ll Support You Evermore(1985)
-The Ted Kennedy Jr. Story(1986)
-The Hanging Gale(1995)
Born Belfast 1st January 1970
Spirited and versatile character actor, whose profile catapulted when she landed the role of Trixie, the wild west saloon working girl, in HBO’s top rated series ‘Deadwood’ 2004. Leaving Belfast in her mid teens, she backpacked around Europe before arriving in New York in 1991, where, working in a Greenwich Village bar she met independent film maker Michael Almereyda. With no previous acting experience, she was offered the role of a bar tender in his experimental film ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ 1992.
The acting bug had now taken hold and after a rushed course in dramatic arts and against all convention, she was cast as Allie Earp in director George P. Comatos’ big budget western ‘Tombstone’ 1993. For the next couple of years it was back to learning the trade, appearing in small scale theatre productions in Los Angeles. She returned to the big screen in the mid to late nineties with roles barely on the right side of uncredited, which was probably the level she realistically would have expected to be, given her her lack of experience. She had to wait until 1999 and the meatier role of Marjorie Detterick, in director Frank Darabont’s Oscar nominated ‘The Green Mile’, before she could consider her luck had changed.
That year she also appeared in the Pacific Resident Theatre production of ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, which at least gave her a taste of the classic plays of her homeland and in her television debut played Jean Stanley in an episode of the crime drama series ‘The Profiler’. Screen roles in 2000 were still insubstantial and included Marcella in former mentor Michael Almereyda’s modern day version of ‘Hamlet’, with Ethan Hawke in the title role and some fleeting guest appearances in television series such as ‘The Practice’. She followed this with another low- key part in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Artificial Intelligence’ 2001 and after three years of routine television work and the odd quality stage appearance in productions such as the Pacific Residents Theatre presentation of ‘Pygmalion’ in 2003, she finally secured her career making role in ‘Deadwood’.
However after ‘Deadwood’ in which she appeared in all thirty six episodes, she continued working on television, guesting on a number of highly successful series, including ‘Lost’ 2006, ‘E.R.’ and ‘Cold Case’, both 2007. With no worthwhile film work on offer during 2009/11, she once again found television a more compliant source of employment, with an unbroken run of appearances in a number of moderately successful series. In 2009 she took a leading role as Amanda Greystone in the one season ‘Caprica’, a spin-off of the more enduring ‘ Battlestar Galactica’.
The following year on much shorter contracts, she had recurring roles in the political crime drama ‘ The Event’ and ‘Sons Of Anarchy’, Kurt Sutter’s imprecise depiction of the lives of a Northern Californian biker Gang. In 2011 she was a little more constricted, registering only guest appearances in a number of television series, such as the fatuous ‘Lie to Me’, the medi-drama ‘Private Practice’ and ‘Prime Suspect’.
In perhaps her most significant part since ‘Deadwood’, she was cast as Mrs Everdeen, mother of principle character Katniss, in the ‘Hunger Games’ film trilogy, 2013/15, Gary Ross’ adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ sci-fi adventure novels. During the same period she had a long run as Abby Donovan in the CBS acclaimed crime drama series, ‘Ray Donovan’ and in 2015 she took a leading credit in director Alison Eastwood’s romantic drama ‘Battlecreek’, opposite rising Swedish born, Bill Skarsgard. Paula Malcolmson has been fortunate in what could best be described as an interesting career, a few diversions notwithstanding, her major role in a hit television series certainly made life that much easier.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– Anna Christie (2002) Pacific Residents Theatre, Los Angeles
– An Ideal Husband (2003) Met Theatre, Los Angeles.
– Trance (1998)
– Quintessence (2003)
– June And Orlando (2003)
– Grass Stains(2016)
– Baby (2000)
– John from Cincinnati (2007)
– Law&Order: LA(2011)
Born Belfast 1919
Died London 1988
Resourceful actor/singer/theatre producer, who following his arrival in London in the immediate post-war, was offered a minor role as Aden Grayshott in Noel Coward’s romantic musical ‘Pacific 1860’. The production was presented at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in December 1946, with a cast including Broadway and Hollywood diva, Mary Martin.
A year later he made his screen debut in producer Philip Bates’ television operetta ‘Miranda and the Statue’ and was recruited by Laurier Lister to appear alongside Max Adrian and Joyce Grenfell in the revue ‘Tuppence Coloured’, which opened at the Lyric, Hammersmith in September 1947, later transferring to the Globe Theatre.
He would work with Lister and Adrian again and at the same theatres during 1948/49, in the musical comedy ‘Oranges and Lemons’ and co-starred in the subsequent television adaptation, broadcast in May 1949. He made another high profile appearance in Ivor Novello’s long running musical romance ‘King’s Rhapsody’, which ran at the Palace Theatre, London from September 1949, registering 841 performances along the way.
In late 1952 he was a splendid, lovestruck Albert Porter in a revival of Eleanor and Herbert Farjoen’s operetta ‘The Two Bouquets’, opposite ‘Round the Horne’ regular Hugh Paddick. This commendable production was staged at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin and was another, afforded a wider television audience, screened by the BBC in August 1953.
He kept busy in 1954 with low-level credits in two feature films, appearing unsurprisingly as a singer in director Mario Zampi’s rural Irish comedy ‘Happy Ever After’, aka ‘Tonight’s the Night’, starring David Niven and Barry Fitzgerald. In writer Jack DeWitt’s Korean war drama ‘The Bamboo Prison’, he played a P.O.W in a cast that featured Brian Keith and the ill-fated Robert Francis, who was tragically killed a few months later aged twenty five.
That same year he was singularly impressive as the penurious Don Antonio in Lionel Harris’ adaptation of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comic opera ‘The Duenna’, performed at the Westminster Theatre, London, in a cast headed by Joan Plowright and Patricia Routledge.
In demand during 1955/56, he made appearances at the Duke of Yorks, London in Ronald Duncan’s ‘The Punch Review’, at the Little Theatre, Bristol in the Chinese romantic drama ‘Lady Precious Stream’ and had a recurring role in the television comedy series ‘Here and Now’.
He was a longtime and enthusiastic member of music-hall custodians the London Players Theatre, where in later years he would become Director of Production. Notable roles there included the spurned and devious Geoffrey Ware in a musical adaptation of the Henry Arthur Jones/ Henry Herman melodrama ‘The Silver King’, which opened in December 1958.
One of his last screen roles was as the eponymous hero in director Marion Radclyffe’s 1959 musical ‘The Highwayman’, lending an air of conviction to an otherwise stilted production. In the mid sixties and early seventies he brought his enthusiasm and expertise to the cast of the enduring Victorian themed, variety show ‘The Good Old Days’, first broadcast in 1953, ably presided over by a garrulous Leonard Sachs as master of ceremonies. Denis Martin was blessed with a distinctive tenor voice and a surfeit of acting skills and soon established himself in 1950s London musical theatre, a tried and tested genre still flourishing on stage and film on both sides of the Atlantic.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits
-William Poel Commemoration(1951) Old Vic, London
-Hello Out There(1954) Drama Dept, Bristol University
-1066 and All That(1952)
Born Belfast 1964
Unfeigned and self-contained character actor, who attended E15 Acting School in Laughton, Essex from 1987/90 and following her graduation, returned to Belfast and wasted no time in securing her first professional role. At the Lyric Theatre in November 1990, as part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, she appeared as the pragmatic Marian Mitchell, daughter of ethical shop steward Davy Mitchell in a reasonable revival of Sam Thompson’s enduring masterwork, ‘Over the Bridge’. Further stage work in December of that year saw her in the Michael Poynor produced Christmas pantomime offering ‘Cinderella’, which also featured Sheelagh O’Kane and New Zealand actor/director Morag Brownlie.
In 1991 she was the spirited Maggie in director Roland Jaquarello’s adaptation of Robert Ellison’s ‘Rough Beginnings’, a tale of hopes and dreams played out in a colourless Belfast backdrop, in a cast that included husband-to-be Stuart Graham. Her screen debut that same year was a modest role in director Robert Cooper’s adaptation of William Trevor’s rural Irish murder mystery ‘Events at Drimaghleen’, an episode broadcast as part of the screenplay series on BBC2. Work in the nineties was irregular and included Declan Hughes’ portrait of sororal angst, ‘New Morning’, presented at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast during the 1994 Queen’s Festival.
In 1996 she toured with the Clonmel based Galloglass Theatre Company in Oscar Wilde’s romantic comedy ‘An Ideal Husband’ and made her big screen entrance as scorned wife Patricia Starkey in Colin Bateman’s dark comedy ‘Divorcing Jack’ in 1998. At the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre in 1999 she received favourable notices as Margaret, the hard –as-nails wife of UDA boss Geordie, played by Patrick O’Kane, in Gary Mitchell’s ‘Trust’, directed by Mick Gordon it was the first of his plays to be produced on the London stage.
A welter of stage activity in 2000 proved an exercise in versatility, beginning in March with her pivotal role as Portia in a touring production of ‘The Merchant of Venice’. In April again at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre, she was particularly effective in a strong Ulster cast, as by the book D.S. Caroline Paterson in Gary Mitchell’s political drama ‘The Force of Change’. She finished the year at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester, in a festival production of Brian Friel’s plaintive ‘Aristocrats’, with another central role as the phlegmatic Judith O’Donnell, eldest daughter of a failing patriarch, presiding over a disjointed family and a crumbling mansion in 1970s Donegal.
In director Harry Bradbeer’s 2002 screening of Gary Mitchell’s brutal play ‘As the Beast Sleeps’, she was effective as the disaffected Sandra, wife of Stuart Graham’s UDA commander Kyle, but would wait almost two years for another screen role. She returned as religious spinster, Auntie Rita, sparingly used in writer/director Terry Loane’s comedy- drama ‘Mickybo and Me’, adapted from Owen McCafferty’s play ‘Mojo and Mickybo’ and released in 2004.
During 2005/07 she registered two incidental television appearances and a median stage role, with the more notable of her screen output as Annie McKenna in two episodes of RTEs medi-soap, ‘The Clinic’ in 2005. At the Baby Grand in Belfast in 2007 she appeared as Anne, opposite Harry Towb in the premiere of Sam McCready’s quasi-autobiographical ‘New York State of Mind and remained in the cast for the subsequent short tour.
A second husband/wife screen pairing with spouse Stuart Graham offered her no room to impress, with only a short glimpse as Mrs Lohan to his prison warder Raymond, in Steve McQueen’s multi-award winning ‘Hunger’ in 2008. Further inconspicuous roles in 2009 found her once again deployed as the symbolic spouse. She was a visiting wife in Martin Lynch’s ‘Chronicles of Long Kesh’, a tracing of the relatively short history of the notorious ‘Troubles’ prison which premiered at the Waterfront Studio, Belfast. On screen she played Mrs Hill, other half of Lalor Roddy’s private detective, in writer/director Michael McDowell’s television docudrama ‘Scapegoat’, a commendable reconstruction of the infamous Patricia Curran murder case of 1952.
Laine Megaw has had an unremarkable screen career, where opportunities were scarce, but fared much better on stage, which has proved a more effective medium for her skills.
Other Theatre and Film and TV credits:
-Bell, Book and Candle(1998) Edinburgh Suite, Europa Hotel, Belfast
-Give My Head Peace(2001)
Somewhat esoteric but enduring character actor with a heavily slanted and respected theatre background, whose earliest professional appearances were with the Lyric Belfast at the beginning of the eighties.
She was cast as a bar -woman in Tommy McArdle’s ‘Heritage’, an adaptation of two Eugene McCabe plays, Dolly, in ‘The Threepenny Opera’, both 1980 and at the same venue in 1981, appeared in Wilde’s ‘An Ideal Husband’ and as IRA hostage Millicent Armstrong in another McCabe piece,’ Victims’. In 1983, with fellow actors Carol Scanlon and Marie Jones, she co-founded Charabanc Theatre Company and saw their first production, Martin Lynch’s ‘Lay Up Your Ends’, premiered at the Arts Belfast the same year.
For the next twelve years she remained closely associated with Charabanc, appearing in the majority of the progressive company’s productions during the eighties, including Marie Jones’ ‘Now You’re Talkin’, at the Arts in 1985 and ‘The Girls In The Big Picture’ at the Ardhowen Theatre Enniskillen in 1986. A year earlier she made her low- key film debut as a receptionist in Bill Miskelly’s Irish produced ‘The End Of The World Man’ 1985, which for the remainder of the eighties proved her only distraction beyond the confines of theatre.
Her first television role was fleeting, playing a headmistress in the controversial political docudrama ‘Shoot To Kill’ 1990, in which she was lost amidst the huge Irish born cast which included James Greene, Denys Hawthorne and Ian McElhinney. In the nineties she found herself more in demand in theatre, with notable roles in Andrew H inds’ ‘October Song’ at the Playhouse Derry 1992, Jennifer Johnston’s ‘How Many Miles To Babylon’ at the Lyric Belfast 1993 and a Charabanc production of Thomas McLaughlin’s ‘Iron May Sparkle’ at the Drill Hall London in 1994. On screen she had a small part in Jim Sheridan’s successful 1997 feature film ‘The Boxer’ and took a slightly better position in the credit list with her role as Georgina Simpson in the Co.Wexford set melodrama ‘A Love Divided’ 1999.
During the 2000 Edinburgh Festival she was part of an excellent Abbey cast in town for the showpiece event, the premiere of Frank McGuinness’ translation of Ramon Maria Del Valle-Inclan’s trilogy of plays, entitled ‘Barbaric Comedies’, which disappointingly drew mixed reviews during its run at the Kings Theatre. Later that year she was back on the Abbey stage, appearing as the Housemaid in an updated Dublin set christmas farce version of Moliere’s much loved classic, ‘Tartuffe’ and in 2001 had co-starring roles in two Irish produced restricted budget films, writer/director John Forte’s comedy ‘Mad About Mambo’ and Kirsten Sheridan’s black curio ‘Disco Pigs’. In 2003 she deservedly won the Irish Times/ESB Best Actress Award for her role as the stalwart Maggie Mundy in the 2002 An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny production of ‘Dancing At Lughnasa’.
She had now established herself as a reliable theatre player and endorsed this with appearances on the two main Dublin stages in 2003, taking prominent roles in Thomas Kilroy’s ‘The Shape Of Metal’ at the Abbey and a Frank McGuinness adaptation of Ibsen’s ‘The Wild Duck’ at the Gate. On television she was still struggling to create even a modest profile, a dilemma seemingly lost on casting agents, whose drip feed of also starring parts could hardly be described as challenging. There were glimpses of her screen potential in two such roles, as Helen Dempsey in Dermot Boyd’s compelling drama ‘The Return’ 2003 and as Ursula in writer Peter Whalley’s excellent ‘The Baby War’ 2005.
In 2006 she produced another solid performance in ‘Homeland’, an Abbey production of Paul Mercier’s modern day take on legendary celtic heroes, Oisin and Tir Na- nog and in a more comfortable cameo played Mrs LeFroy in ‘Becoming Jane’ 2007, director Julian Jarrold’s loosely structured biopic of the early letter writing years of Jane Austen. In a busy period from 2007, her most active to date, she made numerous appearances on the Dublin stage and enjoyed decent cameos in two contrasting Irish produced films, both directed by Tom Hall. At the Abbey in 2007 she had a median role as the maid Lucy in George Farquhar’s early eighteenth century restoration comedy, ‘The Recruiting Officer’ and was dispirited writer Lilian in a Dublin Theatre Festival production of Ioanna Anderson’s bittersweet, ‘You Are Here’, presented at the site specific Quartiere Bloom in 2008. A short term contract with RTE through 2007/08, saw her play unfastidious counsellor Dervla Rodgers in the medical drama series, ‘The Clinic’ and in 2009 she took an also- starring role in Tom Hall’s decidedly unfunny comedy, ‘Wide Open Spaces’, starring among others, a bewildered Ardal O’Hanlon. In March of that year, at the Project Arts in Dublin, in celebration of Rough Magic Theatre Company’s twenty fifth anniversary, she played discontented lesbian, Louise, in Bryan Delaney‘s splendid adaptation of Michael Tremblay’s complex ensemble play, ‘Solemn Mass For A Full Moon In Summer’, in a cast which also included Cathy Belton and Aoife Duffin. She was more fortunate with her cameo as Rosemary, in another Tom Hall offering, the black comedy ‘Sensation’, released in 2010, a much smaller budgeted project than his previous ‘Wide Open Spaces’, but infinitely more convincing. Easily inside the comfort zone was her Norma Hubley, mother of the bride, in Rough Magic’s production of Neil Simon’s biting comedy ‘Plaza Suite’, which undertook a successful Irish tour in 2012. She again was persuasive as Mrs Dangle, in another Rough Magic presentation, Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s late 18th century theatrical satire , The Critic’, a 2013 Dublin Theatre Festival offering , directed by Lynn Parker and staged jointly at the Culture Box and The Ark. On television in 2014 she appeared peripherally in three episodes of the Irish produced family drama ‘Amber’, starring Eva Birthistle and David Murray. Eleanor Methven has, in a long and not too conspicuous career made her own appreciable impression , particularly in Irish theatre, where she has seldom, if ever, disappointed.
Born Greyabbey 4th January 1974
Born Glengormley 8th September 1956
Actor/director/writer and veritable pantologist, a Stranmillis College, Belfast(1979) and QUB(1999) graduate, who enrolled at the Lyric Theatre Drama Studio, Belfast in 1979.
Her professional theatre debut was a walk-on role as a servant in Moliere’s 17th century farce, ‘The Miser’, presented at the Arts Theatre, Belfast in 1981. In early 1983, together with Marie Jones, Eleanor Methven, Maureen McAuley and Brenda Winter, she co-founded what was to become the prolific itinerant theatre company Charabanc, conceived initially to correct the unquestionable imbalance in work offers endured by female performers.
The company thrived for twelve years, producing a respectable twenty two plays, written in the main by Marie Jones during its 1980s apogee. The inaugural production, Martin Lynch’s ‘Lay Up Your Ends’ opened at the Arts Theatre, Belfast in May 1983 and featured chief protagonists Jones, Methven and Scanlan(Moore) as striking mill workers, set in Belfast in 1911. Director Pam Brighton utilized the strengths of each actor to unerring effect with Marie Jones as the profane Belle, Eleanor Methven as the redoubtable Florrie and Scanlon herself as the plaintive Eithne McNamara.
Buoyed by this success, the company then unveiled a second piece, the social drama ‘Oul Delf and False Teeth’, written by Jones and again directed by Pam Brighton, which premiered at the Arts in early 1984. Set in the Markets area of Belfast, she took a central role as the young, optimistic Anna McNamara, seeking direction in the throes of the Northern Ireland elections of 1949.
She made her television debut in a ‘Play for Today’ episode ‘The Cry’ in 1984, an ancilliary role as Shevaun in writer/director Christopher Menaul’s adaptation of John Montague’s short story of the same name, set in late 1950s Northern Ireland, with a cast largely comprised of Ulster born actors, including Denys Hawthorne, Adrian Dunbar and Michael Duffy.
Other leading parts with Charabanc during the eighties, included her over wrought Jackie in the satire ‘Now You’re Talkin’, at the Arts Theatre, Belfast in 1985, notable for its flexible denouement and in multiple roles in the dark comedy ‘Somewhere Over the Balcony’, staged at the Drill Hall, London in 1987.
Her first big screen appearance in writer/director Joe Comerford’s award winning 1988 Galway set thiller ‘Reefer and the Model’, was significant, co-starring as Teresa the model, opposite Ian McElhinney as the eponymous Reefer.
In writer Neill Speers’ taut three hander ‘Cauterised’ in 1989, Charabanc’s first presentation at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, she was impressive as shop manageress Mill and in the company’s return to the Arts Theatre the following year, took another leading role as school canteen supervisor Jeanette Duncan in Marie Jones’ social narrative ‘The Hamster Wheel’. This was to be Marie Jones’ last direct contribution to the Charabanc cause and of the founding five, only Eleanor Methven and Scanlan herself remained. Undeterred they continued into the nineties, touring with plays of conscience, from established writers such as Thomas McLaughlin’s ‘The Frontline Café’ 1991, Andy Hind’s ‘October Song’ and Cathy Hayes’ ‘Skirmishes’, both 1992.
Following her role as the sagacious housekeeper Poncia in Lorca’s final play, ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’, directed by Lynne Parker and staged at the Arts in February 1993, she delivered an admirable performance at the Project Arts, Dublin in July 1993, as Karen, wife of an imprisoned IRA man in Jennifer Johnston’s short monologue ‘Twinkletoes’.
In 1994 at the Drill Hall, London, in Thomas McLaughlin’s sketch driven two hander ‘Iron May Sparkle’, both her as Olive and Eleanor Methven as Claudette filled their custom built roles with more than a hint of gay abandon, in a production which later toured in Northern Ireland in late 1995.
Earlier in 1995, in her first directorial project with the company and with a name change to Moore, she took the helm at the Playhouse Theatre, Derry, in Sue Ashby’s specially commissioned , ‘A Wife, A Dog and A Maple Tree’. The piece, at the heart of Charabanc’s raison d’etre, a company with a pure social voice, that survived a number of years beyond the departure of Jones, marked the end of an enlightening and stimulating journey.
In the late nineties, after a functional screen role in Jim Sheridan’s Golden Globe nominated ‘The Boxer’ 1997, she was back on form as dutiful wife Linda Loman in the Lyric’s 1998 revival of Arthur Miller’s modern classic, ‘Death of a Salesman’, with an equally notable performance by Bernard Kay as the woebegone Willy Loman.
In the early 2000’s she alternated equally between acting and directing and included Marie Jones’ ‘Women on the Verge of HRT’ 2000, Brian Friel’s ‘The Freedom of the City’ 2001, Frank McGuinness’ ‘The Factory Girls’, Billy Roche’s ‘The Calvacaders’, both 2002 and Stewart Parker’s ‘The Iceberg’ 2004, all as director.
Acting roles in the same period saw her in ‘Weddin’s Weeins and Wakes’ 2001, ‘The Blind Fiddler’ 2003, both by Marie Jones and Sam Shepherd’s ‘True West’ 2004, all at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. In a continuous spell of directing during 2006/09 on both stage and screen, she registered a decent level of success with Damien Gorman’s ‘1974: The End of the Year Show’ at the Lyric in 2006, ‘The Liverpool Boat’ at the Docker’s Club, Belfast in 2008, co-written by Marie Jones and Maurice Bessman and the independently produced feature ‘Pumpgirl’ 2009. The film, adapted from actor/director Abbie Spallen’s 2006 stage play, a sex lies and misery study, let loose in a very dark corner of South Armagh, featured a formidable cast headed by Gerard Murphy, Geraldine Hughes and Richard Dormer.
Around this time she began her association with the avant-garde, Belfast based Kabosh Theatre Company, taking the role of shopkeeper Maggie Boyd in a revival of their promenade piece ‘Henry and Harriet in 2008 and as Rosie, opposite Vincent Higgins, in another moving theatre experience, Laurence McKeown’s two hander ‘Two Roads West’ in 2009.
Key stage roles from 2010 included the senescent prostitute/madam, Bella in a revival of Marie Jones’ tragicomedy ‘Rock Doves’ at the Waterfront Studio, Belfast in 2010. As one of the Three Witches/Weird Sisters in director Lynne Parker’s adaptation of ‘Macbeth’ at the Lyric in 2012 and as the ghost Lily Matthews in a commendable production of Stewart Parker’s final play ‘Pentecost’, directed by Jimmy Fay, again at the Lyric in 2014.
An undoubted champion of Ulster theatre, Carol Moore would certainly have thrived in another time, another place, perhaps the inventive effervescence of the celebrated Group Theatre during its glory years of the 1940s’50s.
Other Theatre and TV credits:
– Gold in the Streets(1986) Arts Theatre, Belfast
– The Glass Menagerie(1996) Arts Theatre, Belfast
– The Chairs(2003) Market Place Theatre, Armagh
– Shrieking Sisters(2013) City Hall, Belfast
– Belfast By Moonlight(2013) St George’s Church, Belfast
– Can’t Forget About You(2014) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Those You Pass on the Street(2015) Tour
– The Truth Commissioner(2016)
– The Daily Woman(1986)
– Five Minutes of Heaven(2009)
Born Armagh 1st January 1986
Insouciant and effective leading actor and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduate from 2007, who rather auspiciously made his professional debut that same year at the Young Vic, Southbank, London. He made the most of this opportunity, proving impressive in the title role of DBC Pierre’s black comedy ‘Vernon God Little’, directed by Rufus Norris, in a cast including ‘The Thick of It’ regular Joanna Scanlan.
A few months later in September 2007, he was cast as the teenaged Esteban in Samuel Adamson’s adaptation of Pedro Almodovar’s multi-award winning film ‘All About My Mother’, staged at the Old Vic, London, with Lesley Manville as the eponymous Manuela.
Back at the Young Vic in 2008 he effected a masterful performance as murder suspect Jimmy Rosario in a revival of Thomas Babe’s New York set drama ‘A Prayer for My Daughter’, directed by Dominic Hill. Following his first screen engagement as Jethro Cane in an episode of ‘Doctor Who’ in July 2008 and subsequent central credits in two independent films, he was propelled into instant stardom as the young wizard Merlin, in the BBC’s fantasy drama of the same name, which ran from September 2008 until December 2012.nd
During this protracted period he registered only one stage appearance, playing the gay and low spirited Carlos in Pedro Miguel Rozo’s intensely comic ‘Our Private Life’, which opened at the Royal Court, London in February 2011.
In the wake of his ‘Merlin’ success, he unsurprisingly was offered a plethora of screen work aafter his well-received role as Prospero’s mischievous spirit/servant Ariel, in director Jeremy Herrin’s commendable 2013 production of ‘The Tempest’ at the Globe Theatre, London, his career would take further steps in the right direction.
In 2014 he took significant roles in the Belfast set psychological crime thriller ‘The Fall’, appearing in three episodes of the second series as Detective Sergeant Tom Anderson and on the big screen played ill fated WW1 soldier Victor Richardson in Vera Brittain’s autobiographical and critically acclaimed ‘Testament of Youth’. The following year he was convincing as Kray gang member and driver Frankie Shea, brother of Frances, the tragic and ephemeral wife of Reggie Kray, in writer/director Brian Helgeland’s indifferently received ‘Legend’, starring an inspired Tom Hardy as both Kray brothers.
On television in 2016 he starred as eminent London psychologist turned Somerset farmer, Nathan Appleby, in writer Ashley Pharoah’s late 19th century supernatural drama series ‘The Living and the Dead’, co-directed by Alice Troughton, with whom he worked during his brief time on ‘Doctor Who’. A number of film appearances followed, most notably his leading credit as Paul Ashton in writer/director Charles Garrad’s 2016 mystery drama ‘Waiting for You’, which co-starred celebrated French actor Fanny Ardant.
Colin Morgan was fortunate to have experienced early success on both stage and screen, and in the intervening years has justified the confidence in his ability, first identified by among others, NT Artistic Director Rufus Norris.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
-Mojo(2013) Harold Pinter Theatre, London
-The Huntsman: Winter’s War(2016)
-The Rising: 1916
– Amadeus(1982) Theatre Royal, Bath
– Act of Union(1980) Soho Poly, London
Born Belfast 1928
Died Belfast 8th August 2014
Imperishable and unashamed stage actor, whose career spanned eight decades, beginning in the late forties at the Group Theatre, Belfast. As a wide-eyed nineteen year old in 1947, he enrolled at the Group Theatre School of Acting, studying in the midst of the exalted Group Players.
It would be the early fifties before he was recruited as a professional actor and even then he was to find parts of any consequence hard to come by. Indeed his credits were a little better than ancilliary, illustrated by his role of a press photographer in the premiere of St John Greer Ervine’s intricate comedy, ‘Ballyfarland’s Festival’ in 1953. He fared a little better as Cathal McNulty in another comedy, Joseph Tomelty’s neatly observed ‘Is the Priest at Home?’, with Harold Goldblatt as the clerical fulcrum, Father Malan.
Following the forced expiration of the Group Players in 1959, he found regular work in the mid sixties with the Sam Cree farce ensemble, then resident in the Arts Theatre, Belfast. Such froth included ‘Cupid Wore Skirts’ 1965, ‘Widows Paradise’ 1966 and ‘Don’t Tell the Wife’in 1967. At the same theatre also in 1967, he appeared in the first of two Roger Kelly comedies, ‘The Boys From U.S.A.’, which featured a debut making Frances Tomelty and the following year ‘The Gay Wolf’, a two hander with former Group stalwart Maurice O’Callaghan. He moved to the newly opened Lyric Theatre, Belfast in 1969, appearing in several productions that year, most notably in the title role of Ben Jonson’s most successful comedy, ‘The Alchemist’, directed by Robert Armstrong.
In the seventies he worked almost exclusively with the Lyric Players, registering strong performances in a series of surreal pieces by Cork born writer in residence, Patrick Galvin. The emotive ‘Nightfall to Belfast’ in 1973 was followed by the late 19th century Tipperary set drama ‘The Last Burning’ 1974 and the tragi-comic ‘We Do It for Love’ 1975.
Other significant work at the Lyric in the seventies saw him as Captain in Tom Coffey’s constricted and neglected ‘It Would Be Funny…’ 1975 and as Father Mullarkey in Mary McCarthy’s teasing satire ‘Once A Catholic’, 1975, in a cast which included Ciaran Hinds and Stella McCusker. In 1976 he joined Ulster Television, becoming a familiar face as a continuity announcer, working at the station until 1984.
Following his UTV appointment he was cast in two leading and memorable roles at the Lyric, which would arguably be considered among his finest work. He played the assiduous, flawed and doomed Joe Keller in Arthur Miller’s ‘All My Sons’ in 1977 and the drunken malingerer ‘Captain’ Jack Boyle in Sean O’Casey’s ‘Juno and the Paycock’ 1979. Still active in the Lyric in the early eighties, he was effectively cast as Professor Van Helsing in Warren Graves’ ‘The Death of Dracula’ 1980 and gave a masterful performance as sagacious Belfast dock worker, Leg McNamara, in Martin Lynch’s influential ‘Dockers’ in 1981.
He reunited with Patrick Galvin that year in the writer’s final play for the Lyric, an operetta, ‘My Silver Bird’ and in 1984, aged fifty six, made his low key introduction to the big screen in director Pat O’Connor’s Irish produced ‘Cal’, starring Helen Mirren and fellow neophyte John Lynch. Unimpressed possibly with this experience, he would not appear again on screen for another fifteen years. Theatre output from the mid eighties decreased and produced little of substance, with the exception of Aodhan Madden’s drama, ‘The Private Death of a Queen’, presented at the Eblana as part of the 1986 Dublin Theatre Festival.
In the nineties he appeared infrequently on stage, although he did have an opportunity to shine, taking dual roles in the 1997 Lyric Theatre production of the Michael McKnight/ Paddy Scully adaptation of Brian Moore’s uncompromising castigation of the Irish catholic educational system, ‘The Feast of Lupercal’. A second film role, again minor, came in director Alan Parker’s acclaimed ‘Angela’s Ashes’, a faithful translation of Frank McCourt’s reminiscences of his painful and impoverished Limerick childhood in the 1930s/40s.
He was relatively more active, particularly on screen in the early 2000’s, playing a villager in Spike Milligan’s manic Irish romp, ‘Puckoon’ 2002 and a fleeting cameo in writer/director Terry Loane’s comedy/drama, ‘Mickybo and Me’ in 2004. His last stage appearance was fittingly in a 2011 Centre Stage revival of Joseph Tomelty’s 1948 classic, ‘All Souls Night’, which opened at the Playhouse Theatre, Derry and ended with a two week run at the Lyric in Belfast.
His staggered and limited film career ended with a supporting roles in writer/director Stephen Don’s shoestring budget, Belfast set thriller, ‘Faraway’ in 2013 and at the other end of the financial spectrum, Gary Shore’s epic, ‘Dracula Untold’ in 2014. JJ Murphy was one of the last links to the celebrated Group Players, a dexterous character actor, who later became an invaluable member of the natural successor and keeper of the flame, the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.
Other Theatre credits:
-Family Fever(1968) Arts Theatre, Belfast
-Stop it Nurse(1968) Arts Theatre, Belfast
-The Field(1969) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Luther(1969) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Guests(1974) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Romersholm(1975) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-The Plough and the Stars(1977) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Uncle Vanya(1978) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Whose Life is it Anyway ?(1979) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-The Tempest(1980) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Spring Awakening(1980) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-The Drums of Father Ned(1981) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Convictions(2000) Courthouse, Belfast.
Born Belfast 1st January 1986
Intuitive, largely screen oriented actor, a Trinity College, Dublin graduate in Drama and Film Studies, whose in-house stage appearances included ‘Vinegar Joe’, ‘A Full Moon in March’, ‘At the Hawk’s Well’ and in her final year, 2007, ‘Phaedra: After Racine’, Frank McGuinness’ insightful re-working of Europides’ classic Greek tragedy.
She made her professional debut that same year in the Livin’ Dred Theatre Company’s touring production of Tom Murphy’s 1970s Galway set comedy/drama, ‘Conversations on a Homecoming’, taking the role of wistful young barmaid Anne.
Her first screen appearance was a propitious title role casting in writer/director Agnes Merlet’s 2008 psychological drama ‘Dorothy Mills’, for which she received an IFTA Best Actress nomination in 2009.
On stage at the Project Arts Centre during the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2008, she played Maeve in Belinda McKeon’s ‘Two Houses’, presented in tandem with Philip McMahon’s ‘Investment Potential’, both two-handers, combining as ‘Love 2.0’, which also featured Belfast born Kathy Kiera Clarke.
Between 2009/11, her net efforts were confined exclusively to the small screen. The most noteworthy were arguably a guest role as the orphaned Susan, in director Nick Copus’ mini-series adaptation of John Wyndham’s post apocalyptic, ‘The Day of the Triffids’ in 2009 and a five episode run as Natalie in in the one season, but BAFTA winning supernatural drama ‘The Fades’ in 2011.
A second big screen role in 2012 saw her co-star as Maria, opposite Rafe Spall’s alien, Joe, in Alan Brennan’s Irish produced sci-fi comedy ‘Earthbound’. A year later she returned to a decent spell of work in Billy Ivory’s Nottingham set comedy/drama series ‘Truckers’, as the young transport manager Michelle Truss, with Stephen Tompkinson starring as the woebegone, veteran long distance driver, Malachi Davies.
Her three film roles during 2014/15 were unremarkable, save for a starring credit as the seriously disturbed, eponymous Angel, in Ray Burdis’ horror/thriller ‘Angel’ aka ‘Still Waters’, released in 2015. A veritable film/television devotee with qualified success, Jenn Murray’s shortcoming it seems is her decidedly finite stage career, an imbalance awaiting address.
Other Film and TV credits:
-Testament of Youth(2014)
-Love & Friendship(2016)
Born Belfast 25th May 1952
Composed and accomplished character actor with a more than respectable CV, who began his professional career with the Lyric Players in Belfast during the seventies. He made his debut as Skinny in John Boyd’s ‘The Street’ 1977, in a cast which included Margaret D’Arcy, Stella McCusker and another young and inexperienced actor, Liam Neeson. The demands of the thriving repertory company were made evident to him during his first year, with appearances in four further productions, most notably as Mike in Frank Dunne’s ‘The Rise and Fall of Barney Kerrigan’ and Lennox Robinson’s comedy, ‘The White Headed Boy’.
In 1978 he played Bill Derry in Dominic Behan’s well constructed drama ‘Europe’, set in a Belfast hotel during the troubles and received good notices in Sam Thompson’s often neglected ‘The Evangelist’. He produced another excellent performance as Manuel Rodriguez, in Joseph Long’s ‘The Second Life of Tatenberg Camp’ and demonstrated his suitability for the classics in ‘The Tempest’, both 1979. In the early eighties he toured with the Druid Theatre Company in RB Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals’ 1983 and in 1984 appeared in two translated Field Day productions, Tom Paulin’s ‘The Riot Act’ and Derek Mahon’s ‘High Time’, both presented at the Guildhall in Derry.
His first television appearances were as James Hope in writer/director Pat Murphy’s ‘Anne Devlin’ 1984, with Brid Brennan in the title role and the following year director Mike Leigh cast him as Eugene, in his Belfast set, religious drama, ‘Four Days in July’.
Significant stage work in the late eighties included the 1988 Abbey Theatre production of Frank McGuinness’, ‘Carthaginians’ and Billy Roche’s ‘Poor Beast in the Rain’, at the Bush Theatre London in 1989.
His theatre output thinned out during the early nineties due to increasing screen commitments, but he still managed a Field Day appearance in the Stephen Rea directed ‘The Cure at Troy’, at the Guildhall Derry in 1990 and a second Billy Roche play, ‘Belfry’, again at the Bush Theatre in 1991. From 1990 his screen credits included Ken Loach’s Ulster political thriller ‘Hidden Agenda’ 1990, the horse racing series ‘Trainer’ 1991 and in 1993 he reprised his stage roles in the television adaptations of ‘Poor Beast in the Rain’ and ‘Belfry’.
In writer Timothy Prager’s one season television comedy series ‘Safe and Sound’ 1996, he played Belfast motor mechanic Tommy Delaney opposite business partner Dougy Flynn played by Donegal born Sean McGinley, which despite their best efforts failed on most counts. He fared a little better in writer/director Mary McGuckian’s post 1994 ceasefire film ‘This Is the Sea’ 1997, in which he was scrupulously credible as an RUC Inspector and boasted a cast headed by Richard Harris and Gabriel Byrne. He experienced a disappointing return to high profile theatre in 1997, in the Abbey’s production of Brian Friel’s bloodless drama, ‘Give Me Your Answer, Do!’, valiantly holding his own as novelist Garret Fitzmaurice and saw out the decade with cameos in two feature films, Roger Michell’s ‘Titanic Town’ 1998 and Frank McCourt’s emotive ‘Angela’s Ashes’ 1999.
In 2000 he appeared with the RSC at the Swan in Stratford and the subsequent transfer to the Barbican, in Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals’, swopping his Druid Theatre role for the more suitable Sir Lucius O’Trigger and at the Barbican a year later, was Friar Laurence in Michael Boyd’s production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
On screen in 2000 he played Jimmy Keaveney in the Veronica Guerin inspired Dublin crime drama, ‘When the Sky Falls’ and the same year took a minor role in the American produced, Belfast set comedy, ‘An Everlasting Piece’. A more successful period in theatre followed and included the roles of Walter in Arthur Miller’s ‘ The Price’ at the Tricycle Theatre, London in 2002 and Malvolio in the English Touring Theatre production of ‘Twelfth Night’ at the Theatre Royal, York, 2004. His quiescent screen image did not improve during this period, with further supplementary roles in the French produced thriller ‘Deadlines’ 2004, the David Jason television comedy drama, ‘Diamond Geezer’ 2005 and Chris Cook’s frivolous football frolic, ‘The Penalty King’ 2006.
Despite the dearth of worthwhile film and television work, the situation was never as desperate in theatre, as he proved, with leading roles in Sharit Samed’s ‘Pictures of Clay’ at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, 2005 and Moliere’s ‘Tartuffe’ at the Watermill, Newbury in 2006. Towards the end of the decade he enjoyed a busy period on both stage and screen. This included an incisive portrayal of acclaimed football manager Matt Busby in writer Terry Cafolla’s ‘ Best: His Mother’s Son ‘ 2007 and a laudable credit as old retainer Joseph in Peter Bowker’s worthy adaptation of ‘ Wuthering Heights’ in 2009. Notable theatre appearances were his Inspector Hubbard, in a 2009 touring production of Frederick Knott’s ‘ Dial M for Murder ‘ and an unerring performance as the penurious foreman Dennis Hunter in Robert Tressell’s socialist parable, ‘ The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists ‘, presented at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester in 2010.
Modest screen work during 2012/15, was emphatically eclipsed by his first-rate stage playing, most notably his self-serving skiver, ‘Captain’ Jack Boyle, opposite Niamh Cusack in a touring production of Juno and the Paycock in 2014. He was back in Belfast that year, marvellous as the father S.B. O’Donnell in Brian Friel’s masterful tragicomedy, ‘Philadelphia Here I Come!’, staged at the Lyric Theatre and directed by Andrew Flynn. In 2015 he was part of the ensemble for the Young Chekhov season at Chichester Festival Theatre, appearing in three plays,’ The Seagull’, ‘Ivanov’ and ‘Platonov’, later transferring to the National Theatre.
In a somewhat restrained screen career, Des McAleer has flourished unabashed on stage, a skilful performer who rarely disappointed.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– The Mandrake (1979) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Macbeth(1987) Theatre Royal, Bath
– Fanshen (1988) NT Cottesloe Theatre, London
– The Playboy of the Western World(1994) Almeida Theatre, London
– The Weir (1997) Royal Court, London
– Tis Pity She’s a Whore (1999) Young Vic, London
– War and Peace (2008) Hampstead Theatre, London
– Molly Sweeney(2010) Curve Theatre, Leicester
– Paisley and Me(2012) Grand Opera House, Belfast
– Butterfly Kiss (1995)
– My Week with Marilyn (2011)
– How I Live Now(2013)
– Out of Tune (1985)
– A Handful of Stars (1993)
– Picking Up the Pieces (1998)
– Kings in Grass Castles (1998)
– Silent Witness (2004)
– Rebus (2007)
– Wuthering Heights (2008)
– Field of Blood(2013)
Born Omagh 9th November 1913
Died Milton Mowbray 22nd August 1990
Bucolic and perceptive stage and screen actor, who as a member of the Omagh Players was headhunted by Sir Tyrone Guthrie for his Ulster troupe during the 1951 Festival Of Britain, making his London theatre debut at the Ambassadors Theatre, in George Shiels’ ‘The Passing Day’. On his return he joined the Ulster Group Theatre, first appearing as Councillor James Luke JP, in St John Ervine’s ‘My Brother Tom’ in 1952 and the same year appeared in his first film role, as Reverend Soater, in director Lewis Gilbert’s comedy ‘Time Gentlemen Please’.
He stayed with the Group for two years, appearing in several memorable productions, including Patrick Riddell’s ‘The House of Mallon 1952, ‘A Lock of the General’s Hair’ 1953, ‘Boyd’s Shop’ 1954 and Joseph Tomelty’s ‘Is the Priest at Home?’ 1954. He had two further uncredited film roles during his Group Theatre tenure, before his 1954 Edinburgh Festival triumph as Malachi Stack, in Thornton Wilder’s ‘The Matchmaker’ and subsequent Broadway debut at the Royal Booth Theatre in the same play, which ran for almost eighteen months until 1955. Better film work in the late fifties included ‘A Night to Remember’ 1958, ‘Shake Hands With the Devil’ 1959 and in 1961 he appeared in his first television role, cast as Warden, in an episode of the series ‘One Step Beyond’. Also that year in a rare Dublin theatre outing, he appeared in Cyril Cusack’s ‘The Temptation of Mr O’ at the Olympia and was prominent in a huge cast which included Cusack himself in the title role.
During a hectic spell on screen he appeared in four films, all in minor roles, the best of which was arguably ‘The Return of a Stranger’ 1962, starring the downwardly mobile Canadian, John Ireland and in 1964 found himself unsurprisingly typecast as Tickler Murphy in ‘Coronation Street’, which mercifully for him lasted only for a handful of episodes. Over the next few years he worked almost exclusively on television, with multiple appearances on ‘Z Cars’ and ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ among others, playing an assortment of token Irish characters. His now occasional stage work provided him with a median credit in the weighty ‘ Hadrian VII ‘ at the Mermaid Theatre, London in 1967 and in 1968 he had the central role in John D. Stewart’s ‘ Boatman Do Not Tarry ‘, a UTV production which was broadcast nationally as part of ITVs Playhouse series. Significant screen output in the seventies was scant and only his press photographer role in director Richard Donner’s ‘The Omen’ 1976, redeemed an unexpected and lacklustre period. One of his last contributions to television was as Dr Daley, the alcoholic best friend of Arthur Lowe’s catholic priest Father Duddleswell, in the 1950s set comedy series ‘Bless Me Father’, which ran from 1978/81.
1981 was to prove his last year as a professional actor and he bowed out as he began, on stage, appearing in the title role of ‘The Magic Grandad’ at the Arts Theatre London and in the summer of that year joined old friend JG Devlin in Wesley Burrowes’ Strangford set comedy ‘Affluence’ at the Arts in Belfast, where both gave a nightly masterclassain the art of scene stealing. Patrick McAlinney was another example of tunnel vision casting, identified and labelled Irish type, he was seldom afforded the opportunity of choice and reluctantly but always professionally, accepted his lot.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– Ballyfarland’s Festival (1953) Group Theatre, Belfast
– Farewell, Farewell, Eugene (1959) Garrick Theatre, London
– Man and Superman (1966) Vaudeville Theatre, London
– The Pot Carriers (1962)
– Gold is Where You Find It (1968)
– Revenge (1971)
– The World of Tim Frazer (1961)
– Special Branch (1973)
– Kizzy (1976)
– Butterflies (1978)
Born Belfast 22nd June 1899
Died Belfast 2nd June 1982
Understated stage and screen character actor, whose most enduring role was in neither medium, but who became a Saturday night radio star during the years 1949/1955.
He began his acting career with Lisburn British Legion Dramatic Society in 1927 and appeared with Richard Hayward and J.R. Mageean in several Ulster Literary Theatre revival productions, such as Rutherford Mayne’s ‘The Drone’ and Gerald McNamara’s ‘Thompson in Tir-Na-N-Og’ and ‘The Throwbacks’, all performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in the company’s final year, 1934.
He turned professional comparatively late in life, fortuitously in the same year, 1948, his friend, actor and writer Joseph Tomelty was commissioned by the BBC N.I. Home Service to formulate a script schedule for his proposed comedy show ‘The McCooey’s’. McBride was mooted as Sammy, the father of the eponymous, ordinary Belfast family, Mina Dornan as his wife Maggie and J.G. Devlin, eight years McBride’s junior, as the Granda. Tomelty’s character, the local grocer Bobby Greer, made irregular appearances in what became a local broadcasting sensation, from its inaugural transmission on 13th May 1949.
In 1951 he was part of a large contingent of Group Theatre Players, who under the direction of Tyrone Guthrie and the banner of the N.I. Ireland Festival Company, travelled to London for a series of plays in celebration of the Festival of Britain. In early April of that year he appeared as Chas Quinn in John D. Stewart’s comedy/drama ‘Danger Men Working’ and later the same month took a supporting role in Jack Loudan’s adaptation of Charles Shadwell’s ‘The Sham Prince’, both staged at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. The company returned to London in July 1951 for George Shiels’ social tragedy ‘The Passing Day’, with McBride as Samson the grave digger and Joseph Tomelty as the miserly shopkeeper John Fibbs.
His film debut in 1953 was undemanding, a low-key credit as Mick in C.M. Pennington-Richards’ curious rural Irish set comedy ‘The Oracle’, aka ‘The Horse’s Mouth’, starring Robert Beatty and Virginia McKenna, with a decent role for Joseph Tomelty as village postmaster Terry Roche.
Although not in the original production of Gerard McLarnon’s contentious piece ‘The Bonfire’, rejected by the Group’s Board of Directors and subsequently presented at the Grand Opera House, Belfast in August 1958, McBride did make the cast of the Edinburgh Festival presentation of the play staged at the Royal Lyceum Theatre a few weeks later.
A second and more destructive controversy enveloped the Group in 1959, with yet another board interference, this time aggressively challenging the artistic content of Sam Thompson’s Belfast shipyard exposition, ‘Over the Bridge’. James Ellis the recently appointed Artistic Director, who also appeared in ‘The Bonfire’, fought in vain against what proved to be an illiberal, immovable object. Resignations followed, the illustrious Group Players were effectively no more, Thompson’s play eventually premiered at the Empire Theatre, Belfast on January 26th 1960, under the direction of James Ellis, with John McBride as the bible thumping Billy Morgan.
A second screen appearance in 1961 was a little more substantial than his first, playing Uncle Theo in Stewart Love’s television play ‘The Randy Dandy’, another with a Belfast shipyard backdrop, starring an inspired James Ellis as the discontented hero Dandy Jordan. He followed this with a sustained period of television work in 1963, appearing most notably as Mr Macrory in four episodes of the prototype medical soap, ‘Emergency-Ward 10’. He then took a minor role as Jackson in the second of Stewart Love’s Belfast shipyard dramas, ‘The Big Donkey’, starring Tom Bell, with a supporting cast brimful of ex- Group Players.
At the Grove Theatre, Belfast in 1965 he joined Harold Goldblatt’s occasional Ulster Theatre Company for a short run in Joseph Tomelty’s final play, ‘A Year in Marlfield’, a sequel to his 1954 work ‘Is the Priest at Home?’.
In 1967 he landed a recurring credit as Reilly in several episodes of the implacable police drama series ‘Z Cars’ and the following year played farmer William Henry Doak in an Ulster Theatre Company production of St. John Greer Ervine’s evergreen comedy ‘Boyd’s Shop’, directed by Harold Goldblatt at the Grove Theatre, Belfast, presented as part of that year’s Queen’s Festival. The cast included Joe McPartland as Andrew Boyd, Elizabeth Begley as Carrie and Sam Thompson’s son Warren as Andy Haveron.
In 1969 Goldblatt took the company to the Abbey Theatre, Dublin for George Shiels’ classic melodrama ‘Macook’s Corner’, a revision of his 1938 play ‘Neale Maquade’, directed by Tyrone Guthrie with McBride as John Lilly and J.G. Devlin as the scheming Neale Macook.
Screen work was minimal in the seventies and amounted to a handful of offers, involving archetypal Ulster types which barely raised a sweat. He was fervent Orangeman, Lambeg Billy in Dominic Behan’s 1912 anti- Home Rule piece, ‘Carson County’, a BBC Play for Today in 1972 and played Protestant farmer Gawlay in Eugene McCabe’s ‘Cancer’, the first of his Victims trilogy, set in Fermanagh in the early years of the troubles, directed by Deirdre Friel and screened by RTE in 1973. His last screen contribution was a cameo as Granda, in Ron Hutchinson’s black comedy ‘The Last Window Cleaner’, a BBC television play in February 1979, starring Patrick Magee, Kate Thompson and featured an emerging Liam Neeson as the namelessly titled Himself.
John McBride, although not a constitutive member of the Group Players, was sustained by association and from his earliest experiences in amateur theatre, was an earnest contributor across all media for over fifty years.
Other Theatre and TV credits:
-Moodie in Manitoba(1969) Grove Theatre, Belfast
-The Revenue Men(1967)
-Boatman Do Not Tarry(1968)
Born Belfast 1914
Died Dublin 23rd February 1986
Convivial actor/producer, who began his career aged twenty, as a bit part actor in Hollywood and with one or two exceptions, spent the thirties working in a series of uninspiring films. He made his uncredited debut in director Erle C. Kenton’s poolside comedy, ‘Search for Beauty’ 1934, which was basically a promotional vehicle for hunk of the day, Buster Crabbe. More routine film work quickly followed and included ‘The Painted Veil’ 1934 and ‘Cardinal Richelieu’ 1935, until a more significant opportunity came his way with the role of IRA man Donahue, in John Ford’s academy award winning ‘The Informer’ 1935. After that he was offered better quality projects, including director William Dieterle’s Florence Nightingale bio pic, ‘The White Angel’ and ‘Beloved Enemy’ with David Niven and Merle Oberon, both 1936.
His American swansong was John Stahl’s ‘Parnell’ 1937, in which he played a small role as an M.P.and featured the then king of Hollywood, Clark Gable and just before his return to Britain in 1938, he travelled to New York for what was a grand theatre send-off, appearing at St James’ on Broadway in ‘Empress of Destiny’. On his arrival in Ireland later that year he found work almost immediately, appearing in the Macliammor/Edwards production of ‘The Unguarded Hour’ at the Gate Theatre Dublin and immersed himself in the financially stifled world of British cinema with roles in such tame fare as ‘Ah Wilderness’ 1938 and ‘Spreading the News’ 1939. At the beginning of the war he returned to live in Ireland and worked periodically in Dublin theatre, appearing with Belfast born Eithne Dunne at the Olympia in 1944 but despite his cinematic past, he unable to establish a persona solid enough to flourish on the Irish stage.
In the early fifties he launched his second career, when he and fellow actor Stanley Illsley became theatrical co-producers and working principally from the Olympia, created a populist alternative world of variety shows. His tenure at the Olympia included two rare stage appearances, both starring roles, in M.A.Fraser’s ‘The Land is Bright’ 1955 and James Cheasty’s melodrama ‘Francey’ 1962. Also that year he accepted the role of Doctor Flyn, in director Arthur Driefuss’ film adaptation of Brendan Behan’s ‘The Quare Fellow’, which ironically was rejected by the management of the Olympia in 1954. In 1964, after thirteen years as a producer, he declared himself available for acting assignments and was soon appearing on screen, in roles such as Finn McKenna in the new early evening soap ‘Crossroads’ and as Doctor Leger in Paul Henried’s sentimental musical drama, ‘Ballad in Blue’, which starred a bemused Ray Charles as himself.
Between 1964/71 he was seen only occasionally on television and in his final screen appearance played Father McNally, in ‘Michael Regan’, an episode of ‘Play for Today’ screened in 1971. Leo McCabe’s career, excluding his time as a theatre producer, was only interesting because of his youthful Hollywood experiences, a case of reaching for the stars without a rocket ship.
Other Theatre and Film credits:
-The Cherry Orchard(1971) Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
– My Irish Molly (1938)
Born Belfast 1959
Unambiguous and able supporting player, largely an American television product, who following studies at the University of Connecticut, made his first major stage appearance as Orestes in ‘Electra, A Central American Tragedy’ at Boston’s Mobius Theatre in 1984. In 1985 he moved to New York and for a period was a member of the famed Actors Studio and in 1987 landed his first big screen assignment, playing a Maitre D in director Chuck Vincent’s independently produced, straight to video film comedy ‘New York’s Finest’. After a minor role in another indie film, writer/director Christian Faber’s ‘Bail Jumper’ 1990, he concentrated his energy into co-founding the avante garde Workhouse Theatre Group in Manhattan and appeared in many early productions during 1991/92, including ‘The Scape’, ‘Lovers and Madmen’ and ‘Grosspoints’.
His television baptism came in the two season drama ‘Civil Wars’, appearing in the second series in 1992 and a year later in his first co-starring film role, played Jack Merrick in Marvin Chomsky’ television thriller ‘Telling Secrets’. The popular action series ‘Viper’ 1994, provided him with his highest credit rating to date but he had to wait until 1996 for his debut mainstream feature film part, a brief days work in director Michael Lehmann’s romantic comedy, ‘The Truth About Cats and Dogs’, notable only as a safe vehicle for rising Hollywood star Uma Thurman.
A substantial role as Captain Arthur O’Byrne in the 1998 season of the long running police drama ‘New York Undercover’, merely consolidated his status as a recognisable television face but brought him no closer than the margins of a big screen breakthrough. His 1999 efforts included a mix of shoestring budget independent films and the inevitable television movie, the best of which were arguably, ‘The Tic Tac Code’ and the Francis Ford Coppola produced ‘The Florentine’. A guest role in the third series of the top rated ‘Sex and the City’ in 2000, was not the springboard into the new century he had hoped and for the first time since his career began, he faced a lengthy period off screen.
An also starring role in the deservedly Oscar nominated ‘American Splendor’ in 2003, brought him back to work in style and in a bow to pulp, took the part of Charlie Spangler in CBS’ eternal soap ‘As the World Turns’, then into it’s forty seventh year. Two films in 2004 brought him mixed success, Spike Lee cast him sparingly in his comedy drama ‘She Hate Me’ but he had a more central role in writer/director Matthew Coppola’s imperfect directorial debut ‘Fresh Cut Grass’, where he was let loose as a pot smoking, one time high flying publisher.
He appeared in further television series such as the family melodrama ‘Beautiful People’ 2005 and ‘Rescue Me’ 2006, an idiosyncratic if maudlin depiction of a division of New York firefighters, in which he played the ghost of a former fireman, Jimmy Keefe. He was convincing as disabled theatre director Steven, in writer/director Steven Tanenbaum’s quirky, small budget drama ‘ Last Call ‘, released in 2008 and in 2009 starred with Alex Kingston as a wealthy childless couple in the routine thriller ‘ Sordid Things ‘. Uninspiring film work in 2010 was balanced by his continuing role in ‘ Rescue Me ‘, but he began 2011 on a now familiar path, co-starring as Detective Jones in Matt Farnsworth’s homage to slash, ‘ Orphan Killers’.
A relative overload of screen activity followed between 2012 and 2016 and included a starring role as patriarch Nick Reed in writer/director Alexia Oldini’s dark family drama, ‘To Redemption’ in 2012. Another effectual film role was his Father Thomas in the horror thriller ‘A Cry From Within’, 2014, in a cast which featured Eric Roberts and Robert Vaughan. He found time in his schedule to make a New York stage appearance as police detective Nick Pappas, in Walter Anderson’s mid -sixties set, Vietnam themed, ‘Almost Home’, staged at the Acorn Theatre in 2014.
A run of big screen projects followed, with arguably writer/director Justin Daly’s thriller ‘Douglas Brown’ and the crime drama ‘Confidence Game’, both 2016, the most noteworthy. James McCaffrey’s early stage promise was never put to the test, he chose instead to pursue a screen career, which although dubiously constructed, maintained his status above that of a journeyman actor.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– Coming Soon (1999)
– Distress (2003)
– Feel The Noise (2007)
– Camp Hell(2010)
– Sam (2015)
– Coach of the Year (2015)
– Swift Justice (1996)
– Switched At Birth (1999)
– Canterbury’s Law (2008)
– Blue Bloods(2011)
– Suits (2013)
– Forever (2014)
Born Moville, Co. Donegal 28th January 1884
*Included due to a lifetime contribution to local stage and screen
Esteemed grandee of Ulster theatre, whose multifarious credentials can be traced back to a juvenile role in Charles Selby’s so called ‘sensation’ melodrama, ‘London by Night’, staged in 1896.
A prolific actor/director with the Northern Drama League, he made an early appearance as Doctor Stockmann in Henrik Ibsen’s ‘An Enemy of the People’, a production he also directed, presented at the Great Hall, Queen’s University, Belfast in 1923.
His enthusiasm knew no bounds, as around this time he and Robert Dempster co-founded the Carrickfergus Players, a company specializing in one-act plays in the vernacular. He both acted in and directed productions such as D. McLaughlin’s comedy ‘Andrew McIlfatrick, J.P.’ and Sam R. Bolton’s drama ‘Going West’, performed at Alexandra Park Avenue Hall, Carrickfergus in 1925.
Further notable credits with the Northern Drama League included his Captain Keeney in Eugene O’Neill’s seafaring drama ‘Ile’ in 1924 and in 1928, the drunkard, Old Eccles in T.W. Robertson’s three-act comedy/drama ‘Caste’, both at the Central Hall, Belfast. He was prominent with the company into the thirties, taking a leading role in August Strindberg’s naturalist tragedy ‘The Father’, also at the Central Hall in 1931.
In the mid- thirties he was recruited by Richard Hayward and J. R. Mageean’s Belfast Repertory Theatre Company, for the role of James Hope in Thomas Carnduff’s late 18th century drama, ‘Castlereagh’, presented at the Empire Theatre, Belfast in January 1935. At the end of that year he made the first of his two screen appearances, a median part as schoolmaster Gavin Grogan in director Donovan Pedelty’s homespun comedy/drama and so called quota quickie, ‘The Luck of the Irish’, starring the pioneering and industrious duo, Hayward and Mageean.
Following the formation of the Ulster Group Theatre in the winter of 1939/40 and after a short experimental period, the fledgling company would begin producing in earnest from the Ulster Minor Hall, Bedford Street, Belfast in September 1940. The tireless McCandless soon added his considerable experience to the assembled pool of talent, taking the central role of Andrew Boyd in St. John Greer Ervine’s ‘Boyd’s Shop’, a play the Group would revive time and again.
He later took supporting credits as Dendy Dale in Joseph Tomelty’s ‘Idolatry at Innishargie’ and as Mr Andrews in Patricia O’Connor’s light social drama ‘Highly Efficient’, both 1942. Further Group appearances during the forties included Hugh Quinn’s ‘Legacy of Delight’ 1943, the prolific George Shiels’ kitchen comedy, ‘The Old Broom’ 1944, featuring Elizabeth Begley and another Patricia O’Connor piece, ‘Select Vestry’ 1945.
The remainder of the forties saw him in a wide variety of genres, most notably as Sam Firkin in Shiels’ smuggling yarn, ‘Border Wine’ in 1946, boasting a strong cast of seasoned players, including Begley, Bee Duffell, Harold Goldblatt and Joseph Tomelty. In 1948 he was cast as Nick Warnock in Cecil Cree’s Belfast set, ‘The House That Jack Built’ and played magnificently against type as Clutie Cadoo in the hugely successful three act comedy, ‘A Title for Buxey’, which premiered on Christmas eve 1949.
In the early 1950s he was an automatic choice for the more senior roles available, excelling as embittered shopkeeper Joseph Cunningham in Harry Sinton Gibson’s rural Ulster family drama ‘The Square Peg’ 1950 and played the eponymous Tom Luke, good natured brother of the philandering Joe, a marvellous turn by Harold Goldblatt in St.John Greer Ervine’s country comedy ‘My Brother Tom’ in 1952.
His second and final screen appearance was as Rev. Arthur Patterson in Ervine’s perennial comedy ‘Boyd’s Shop’, a live studio production for BBC’s ‘Sunday Night Theatre’, broadcast in February 1954. In December of the same year, the Group presented Joseph Tomelty’s quirky comedy ‘April in Assagh’ at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, directed by J.R. Mageean, with McCandless as George Killops, in a cast of redoubtables, including Elizabeth Begley, J.G.Devlin, Kathleen Feenan and Tomelty himself.
Just past his seventy fifth birthday in that fateful, well documented final year of the Group Players, 1959, he found no shortage of acting and directing work. He was a most convincing Bishop in Patricia O’Connor’s compelling social drama ‘The Sparrow’s Fall’, a discernible Sylvester McCluggage in an entertaining adaptation of J.B. Priestley’s ‘When We Are Married’ and directed a revival of George Shiels’ comedy of financial mismanagement, ‘Quin’s Secret’.
He was still treading the boards into his eighties, joining longtime colleagues Elizabeth Begley, Harold Goldblatt et al, for the latter’s Ulster Theatre Company’s production of St.John Greer Ervine’s distinctive Ulster play, the comedy ‘Friends and Relations’, at the Grove Theatre, Belfast in 1967.
R.H.McCandless was incontestably a stage actor, a lifelong thespian who remarkably predated by almost a generation, the majority of his Group Theatre contemporaries.
Other Theatre Credits:
-Voice Out of Rama(1944)
-The Curse of the Lone Tree(1946)
-Stars of Brickfield Street(1948)
-Signs and Wonders(1951)
-The Farmer Wants a Wife(1955)
All Group Theatre, Belfast.
Born Dunmurry 31st December 1917
Died London 24th January 1989
Reserved but dexterous man of theatre, who was working for BBC radio in Belfast, when he first appeared on stage aged sixteen, as Raleigh in R.C. Sherriff’s ‘Journeys End’ at the short lived Playhouse Theatre, Belfast in 1936. He remained with the company under Harold Norway, until it’s demise in late 1939, when the legendary Ulster Group Theatre took up residence in 1940 and had spells with both the Group and Savoy players, then based at the Grand Opera House, during the war years. His first major break came when Alec Clunes, director of the Arts Theatre, London, invited him to join the theatre’s forthcoming festival and during 1944/45 appeared in several plays at the Theatre Royal, Bristol including ‘ Hamlet ‘, ‘ The School for Scandal ‘ and ‘ The Constant Couple ‘ and made his London stage debut at the Arts Theatre, as St John Hotchkiss in ‘ Getting Married ‘ 1945.
In the latter half of the forties he was working primarily in theatre but had his first taste of the big screen, appearing uncredited in director Bernard Knowles’ period adventure yarn, ‘The Man Within’ 1947 and at the end of the decade produced and starred in his own play, ‘Call It Madness’, presented at the New Lindsay Theatre in 1949. Further stage work in the early fifties included, ‘The Ivory Tower’ at the Vaudeville Theatre London in 1950, a return to Belfast in 1951 with Tyrone Guthrie’s Festival of Britain Theatre Company and the same year appeared at the Ambassadors, London in another celebratory play, George Shiel’s ‘The Passing Day’.
A veritable landmark in his career was the creation of the role of Christopher Wren in Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’, which opened at the Ambassadors in November 1952 and where for two years he was part of theatrical history in the making. In 1955 he made his television debut, playing Second Officer O’Mara in an episode of Douglas Fairbanks Presents and in 1958 landed more regular work as a prominent cast member in the series, ‘Private Investigator’.
In director Hugo Fregonese’s rather humdrum Indian jungle adventure, ‘Harry Black’ 1958, only his second film in ten years, he at least had a speaking part as a British officer, in a cast starring Stewart Granger and the chiselled, one dimensional Anthony Steel. During the early sixties he was able to find steady screen work, albeit at the bottom half of the credits and included roles in Joseph Losey’s sci- fi drama, ‘The Damned’ and Michael Winner’s crime thriller ‘West 11’, both 1963 and on television, guest-starred on series such as ‘The Avengers’ 1962/64. Quality work was also in short supply on stage, with the exception of a decent role in ‘Santa Cruz’ at the Lyric Hammersmith in 1966, although he did keep busy with radio and writing assignments throughout the decade.
He had another incidental role in writer/director Frank Pierson’s 1969 action thriller, ‘The Looking Glass War’ and was of course smothered by a strong Brit cast including Ralph Richardson, Anna Massey and Anthony Hopkins. After fifteen years his screen career was still waiting to take off and this was frustratingly consolidated when he accepted a part in the dire sex comedy, ‘On The Game’ 1973 and only rescued the year with a splendid solo performance, in his own re-working of George Moore’s ‘Celibate Lives’ at the Kings Head Islington. He took the play to Belfast the following year, appearing at Queens University and in 1975 was at the John Player Theatre, Dublin, in Stewart Parker’s debut stage play ‘Spokesong’, a featured piece in the city’s theatre festival that year.
In the 1977 festival, he pricked the sensitivities of the powers that be, who banned his own production of ‘Bloomsday’ but he did eventually present the Joycean homage at the Tower Theatre, London, later that year. His interest in the works of George Moore continued the following year, when he played the Irish dramatist in another of his one man plays,’The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs’, at the New End Theatre in Hampstead, which he subsequently took on tour. After a long absence from the screen, he reappeared in the 1979 television mini-series, ‘My Son My Son’ but was attracting less and less quality acting roles and into the eighties his projects amounted to little more than a couple of minor roles on television, with his last appearance in Gerald Seymour’s spy thriller, ‘The Contract’, an adapted mini-series aired in 1988.
Allan McClelland’s career cannot be measured in highs and lows, it could however be best described as a long leisurely stroll.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– Danger Men Working(1950) Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith
– Ulysses in Nighttown(1959) Arts Theatre Club, London
– The Villains(1965)
– The Carnforth Practice (1974)
– Murder Motel (1975)
– Premiere (1980)
Born Newry 1964
Incisive and enterprising actor/producer/novelist, who for a period in the nineties gave but a glimpse of her acting capabilities, during a career too short to evaluate. Her time in front of the camera lasted barely seven years and with a limited stage background, her attenuated legacy will not stand the test of time. After graduating from the University Of Ulster, where her acting skills were first tested as a member of the drama society, she made her film debut as pregnant schoolgirl Goretti, in writer/director Margo Harkin’s Derry set melodrama ‘Hush- a- Bye Baby’ 1990.
Also that year she was offered a co-starring role as Susan, in Ken Loach’s undervalued ‘Riff Raff’, opposite rising Scottish actor Robert Carlyle and in her first television appearance, played Bernadette O’Rourke in an episode of the quirky private eye series ‘Boon’. In 1992, in Writer/director Hanif Kureishi’s unyielding independently produced drama ‘London Kills Me’, she gave an outstanding performance as drug addict Sylvie, in a cast of lesser lights including the then unknown Steven Mackintosh.
With the exception of an also starring role as Eileen in the television mini- series ‘Parnell and the Englishwoman’ and a significant part in Johnny Gogan’s Irish produced, low budget film ‘The Bargain Shop’, both 1992, she did little or nothing on screen for almost three years. During the early nineties she made infrequent stage appearances, most notably in Sam Mendes’ adaptation of Sean O’Casey’s ‘ The Plough and the Stars ‘ presented at the Young Vic Theatre, London in 1991, with a cast including Judi Dench and Stanley Townsend.
She reappeared in 1995 in another independent film, Paul Hills’ violent urban drama ‘Boston Kickout’, co-starring with John Simm but disappeared again until 1997, when she accepted a role in Colm Villa’s muddled near future thriller ‘Sunset Heights’, which also marked the film debut of Patrick O’Kane. Her final screen appearance was not memorable, taking a leading role in Allan Niblo’s low key romantic comedy ‘Loop’ 1997 and in 1999 her association with the industry, with the exception of a film short in 2014, at least ended on a high note, when she co-produced the acclaimed rave culture inspired feature ‘Human Traffic’.
Emer McCourt’s decision to retire from acting at such a young age was no doubt made with regret and although her film output was largely indie dominated, she was but an opportunity away from a mainstream breakthrough.
Other Theatre and TV credits:
– No One Sees the Video(1990) Royal Court, Theatre Upstairs, London
– A View From the Bridge(1994) Bristol Old Vic
– Shoot to Kill (1990)
– The House of Bernarda Alba (1991)
– Frank Stubbs(1993)
Born Newtownbutler, Co. Fermanagh 1967
Facile and convincing stage and screen actor with a weighty history in both genres, who after a two year drama course at the Gaiety School Of Acting in Dublin, made his professional theatre debut there in 1988 as Joseph Too in the Dublin Theatre Festival presentation of Christopher Nolan’s autobiographical ‘Torchlight and Laserbeams’.
In 1989, in a guest role with the Druid Theatre Company he played adopted son Colm Taggart in Ken Bourke’s inaugural play ‘Wild Harvest’ and made his first television appearance in Tom McGurk’s dramatization of the Giuseppe Conlon letters, ‘Dear Sarah’, with Stella McCusker as anguished wife and mother Sarah Conlon. Strong performances as gormless trainee mortician Michael, in Jim Nolan’s ‘Moonshine’ at the Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford and a Helen Hayes nomination for leading actor in ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ at the Kennedy Centre New York, both 1991, effectively served notice of his rapidly improving stage credentials.
In his film debut a year later, he was cast as covertly subversive Jack Cuffe, son of widowed artist Julie Christie in director Michael Whyte’s poignant and little seen ‘The Railway Station Man’, shot in Co Donegal, with Donald Sutherland as the lynchpin of the title. During 1993/96 he made several appearances with the Abbey and included Bernard Farrell’s ‘The Last Apache Reunion’ 1993, ‘The Adventures of Shay Mouse’ 1995 and notably as the philandering Mr Thornhill in Tom Murphy’s ‘She Stoops to Folly’1996, a re-working of Oliver Goldsmith’s period comedy ‘The Vicar of Wakefield’.
Born Belfast 11th July 1967
Born Belfast 1940
Inveterate bit part actor, musical theatre performer, respected Australian based narrator and writer, whose early stage appearances included his role as Hector Malone Jnr in George Bernard Shaw’s satirical comedy ‘Man and Superman’ at Nottingham Playhouse in 1963. A year later he joined Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop as an ensemble player and toured with her co-written burlesque of WW1, the universally acclaimed ‘Oh! What a Lovely War’.
A period of repertory work preceded his 1967 television debut, a minor credit as a police constable in the crime drama series ‘No Hiding Place’, one of two uniform types he would play out many times during his screen career. A stream of peripheral guest parts in the latter years of the sixties exemplified this, with his PC Walters in an episode of the ‘Z Cars’ spin –off ‘Softly Softly’ in 1968. In quick succession he was then cast as an army lieutenant in the British Raj series ‘Frontier’ and a corporal in the mini- series ‘Resurrection’, both 1968.
He was a trench soldier in the film version of ‘Oh! What a Lovely War’ and a police sergeant in the comedy series ‘Doctor in the House’ and played Sergeant Waller in ‘Dad’s Army’, all 1969. He maintained this low profile level into the seventies, with negligible roles in a television adaptation of Emile Zola’s coalmining epic ‘Germinal’and in two episodes of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s sci fi series ‘UFO’, both 1970.
On stage that year at Wyndham’s Theatre, London, he fared no better, playing a monk in writer Ronald Miller’s 12th century France set drama ‘Abelard and Heloise’, with Keith Michell and Diana Rigg as the eponymous lovers. Another run of minor film and television work produced further uniformed parts, he was a police constable again in the comedy/drama series ‘Budgie’ 1971 and a sergeant in director Vernon Sewell’s 1972 horror film ‘Burke and Hare’, but escaped the rank and file with two appearances during the Jon Pertwee reign as ‘Doctor Who’ during 1971/72. In a television ‘Play for Today’ episode in 1972 entitled ‘Carson’s Country’, Dominic Behan’s 1912 Home Rule narrative, he registered the first of his very few professional contributions to the Ulster milieu. In this he was credited loosely as Orange Man, opposite a coterie of Northern Irish actors headed by J.G. Devlin, Elizabeth Begley and Harry Towb.
His musical theatre ambitions were relatively satisfied with the role of Bert in the Lauren Bacall vehicle ‘Applause’, which had enjoyed a long run on Broadway and transferred straight to Her Majesty’s Theatre, London in November 1972. Based on the Oscar winning 1950 film ‘All About Eve’, Bacall played the ageing and deceived Margo Channing. Between 1975 and 1978 he added three feature films to his lengthening but frothy CV, the best of which were his supporting role as Hiller in director Kevin Connor’s fantasy adventure ‘The Land That Time Forgot’ and a routine walk-on in Gerald Thomas’ overload of bawdiness, ‘Carry On Behind’, both 1975.
Following some light television efforts in 1978, Gerald Thomas employed him again, this time a little less fleetingly in his imbecilic assault on the senses, ‘Carry On Emmanuelle’ in 1978. In the eighties he was back in uniform again, as a constable and two sergeants in three consecutive television productions. In turn they were the six part crime thriller ‘Blood Money’ 1981, ‘Minder’ 1982 and writer Samantha Lee’s Belfast set, troubles inspired ‘Billy Boy’, also 1982, featuring James Ellis and Gerard Murphy.
In 1984 he was reduced to a crowd scene involvement in the second episode of a new police drama series ‘The Bill’ and a year later was back in his comfort zone, treading the boards in director Roger Redfarn’s routine production of ‘The Sound of Music’, presented at Bristol Hippodrome. His swansong on British television was as predictable as before, appearing as a court policeman in an episode of Geoff McQueen’s comedy drama series ‘Big Deal’, aired in November 1986.
He emerged from three years below the radar in 1989, with a tour of Australia, convincing as the ship’s captain in Cole Porter’s sparkling and enduring musical ‘Anything Goes’. He subsequently relocated to Australia, but with the exception of a brief glimpse as car dealer Phil Friendly in ‘Neighbours’ in 1993, he remained absent from the screen for a further eight years. In the 2000’s he yet again recorded a customary basement credit in Nine Network’s, Melbourne crime series ‘Halifax f.p.’ in 2001 and mercifully for him suffered a similar fate in director Marc Gracie’s witless comedy ‘You and Your Stupid Mate’, 2005. Stanley McGeagh’s acting career was unremarkable at best, but for all that he gamely persevered for what was an uphill and generally prosaic forty plus years.
Other Theatre and TV credits:
-Old Days(1981) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Rookery Nook(1995) Mietta’s Theatre, Melbourne
-When We Are Married(1995) Mietta’s Theatre, Melbourne
-The Spanish Farm(1968)
-Thicker Than Water(1969)
-Dixon of Dock Green(1968/69)
-Rules, Rules, Rules(1970)
-The Liver Birds(1972)
-The Onedin Line(1978)
-Screen Two, Knockback(1985)
-Worst Best Friends(2002)
Born Belfast 16th June 1921
Died Belfast 4th October 1997
Indomitable character actor with a staggered stage history and a late but short television career, which uneventfully played out during the mid to late eighties. A member of the Group Players from the end of the forties, appearing in such productions as John Coulter’s comedy ‘Stars of Brickfield Street’ in 1948 and Harry Sinton Gibson’s three act social drama ‘The Square Peg’ 1950, prominent in a cast featuring J.G.Devlin, Patrick Magee, Joseph Tomelty and a 19 year old William Millar, aka Stephen Boyd.
She had a recurring role in the early fifties as Sally McCooey in Tomelty’s celebrated radio comedy series ‘The McCooeys’ and then experienced a lengthy absence from the local stage, reappearing eventually in the late sixties in a plethora of Sam Cree farces then flourishing at the Arts Theatre, Belfast. Her uncomplicated roles included Martha Cooper in ‘Stop it Nurse’, Sadie Galbraith, opposite J.J.Murphy in ‘Family Fever’, both 1968 and was notable as house-keeper Mrs Jamieson, co-starring with Doreen Hepburn in ‘The Mating Season’ 1969. Her frothy comedy run ended in 1970 with her role as prim and proper, mother of the groom, Sarah Rea in Cree’s final play at the Arts, ‘Separate Beds’, in a cast which also featured Stella McCusker and former group player Maurice O;Callaghan.
In a return to legitimate theatre, she was cast as Mrs Rogers in Patrick Galvin’s drama ‘Nightfall to Belfast’, staged at the Lyric in 1973 and at the same venue took the role of Min Meeneely in John Boyd’s troubles inspired, ‘Guests’ in 1974. In 1975 in another Galvin piece, she played Mrs Ryan in the tragicomic ‘We Do It For Love’, in a huge cast which included Mark Mulholland and John Hewitt.
She returned to the Arts Theatre in 1977, where under the direction of Roy Heayberd she starred in a number of productions. She was an affecting Mary Kate Maher in John Murphy’s only play, the Co. Mayo set family drama ‘The Country Boy’, which was first unveiled at the Group in 1959, comfortable as cheating middle-class wife Fiona Foster in Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘How The Other Half Loves’ and commanding as the ungenerous Kathrine Quinn in Joseph Tomelty’s classic tragedy ‘All Souls Night’.
She was arguably more productive in the eighties, working on both stage and television, a medium she had hitherto ignored. Her 1984 screen debut as Peggy in Anne Devlin’s emotionally charged drama ‘A Woman Calling’ was low-key, as was her uncredited role in an episode of the mini-series ‘The Ties of Blood’, entitled ‘Going Home’, Graham Reid’s sextet of troubles infused plays, aired in 1985, which immediately followed his acclaimed ‘Billy’ trilogy a year earlier.
At the Lyric in 1984 she was impressive in the title role of Hugh Quinn’s 1920’s Belfast set comedy, ‘Mrs McConaghy’s Money’ and her rush of work at the same theatre continued into the late eighties, with a succession of several strong performances. They included Sarah in Robin Glendinning’s ‘Culture Vultures’ in 1988, her matriarch Dolly in the premiere of Christina Reid’s ‘The Belle of the Belfast City’and as Grandma McCluless in John D. Srewart’s adaptation ‘Tartuffe Today’, both 1989.
On television in 1987 she reprised her radio role as Agnes in Christina Reid’s ‘The Last of a Dyin Race’, alongside Doreen Hepburn and Barbara Adair and worked with them again in writer William Trevor’s ‘Beyond the Pale’, an episode of BBC 2’s ‘Screenplay’ series in 1989. Sheila McGibbon’s career spanned six decades, during which time she kept company with the great and the good of the Ulster stage, a sagacious figure even in her late twenties, when she first emerged in those heady days of the Group Theatre.
Other Theatre and TV credits:
-The Adventures of a Bear Called Paddington(1977) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Friends and Relations(1982) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Tea in a China Cup(1983) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Phonefun Limited(1984) Lyric Theatre, Belfas
-Strike(1984) Arts Theatre, Belfast
-Moodie in Manitoba(1987) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-The Loves of Cass Maguire(1988) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-The Plough and the Stars(1988) Lyric Theatre, Belfast.
Born Castlewellan Co Down 4th October 1983
Sanguine and insightful, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2004, whose stage roles there included Sally, in Sam Shepherd’s social drama ‘A Lie of the Mind’ in 2003 and servant girl Anna Owens in Frank McGuiness’ ‘Dolly West’s Kitchen’ in 2004.
In the year following her graduation, she landed her first professional assignment, dual roles as Juliet/Mercutio, in the Volcano Theatre Company’s production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, which opened at the Arcola Theatre, London in September 2005. A return to Northern Ireland later that year saw her as Princess Jill in director Simon Magill’s pantomime ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, staged at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, in a company including Dan Gordon and Tara Lynne O’Neill. Then followed a threadbare period until her appearance at the Chichester Festival in 2007, where she was wasted as Olivia’s maid in ‘Twelfth Night’, but was in a better place as the Witch, cum nurse cum servant, in director Rupert Goold’s acclaimed interpretation of ‘Macbeth’, starring Patrick Stewart. The play later transferred to the Gielgud Theatre, London in September 2007 and ran triumphantly for three months, later travelling with full cast intact to the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway, where it enjoyed a limited four week run from April 2008.
In her keynote year, 2009, in tandem with Bronagh Taggart, she impressed as Clare in Lisa McGee’s frantic, character laden two- hander, ‘Girls and Dolls’, performed at the Old Red Lion Theatre, London. That same year she made her television debut as Martha Devine in writer Terry Cafolla’s biopic ‘Best: His Mother’s Son’, directed by Colin Barr and featuring an outstanding performance by Michelle Fairley as the troubled footballer’s mother, Ann.
In September 2009 she registered the first of her innumerable appearances in the medi-soap ‘Holby City’, in which she introduced her character, the candid, empathetic Mary Claire Carter. She was reunited with the cast and director of ‘Macbeth’ in November 2009, when filming began for a television exposition of the play, which was shot on location at Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire in an incredibly short eighteen days and broadcast in December 2010.
In conjunction with her regular role in ‘Holby City’, she continued to work exclusively on television during 2012/14. A guest role in 2012, in writer Heidi Thomas’ two series continuation of the early seventies, multi award winning ‘Upstairs Downstairs’, was followed by an also- starring, but pivotal credit as PC Danielle Ferrington in Allan Cubitt’s psychological thriller ‘The Fall’ 2013, which she reprised in the second series in 2014. In yet another television series that year, the crime drama ‘Crossing Lines’, she appeared as Irish traveller Rose McConnell in a two part episode entitled ‘Family Ties’, which also featured Lisburn born Ray Stevenson.
She was used sparingly in her film debut in 2015, with a brief turn as London tourist Amelia in writer/director Dan Turner’s small budget romantic drama ‘Learning to Breathe’, peopled by a cast of largely unfamiliar names, with the possible exception of lead Sam Hazeldine. Niamh McGrady has been fortunate to have secured two consequential television roles that could arguably be described as defining, both recurring, one in a shorter term dark drama, the other snug and less challenging, but offering inestimably regular work.
Other Theatre and TV credits:
-Building Site(2009) Arcola Theatre, London
Born Ballymena 22nd September 1880
Born Donaghmore, Co. Tyrone 1977
Congenial and able supporting actor, who from a young age was a member of Sean Faloon’s Bardic Theatre Group, based in his hometown of Donaghmore. In the mid-nineties he appeared with the Ulster Youth Theatre, most notably in the David Grant adaptation of Joshua Sobol’s compelling 1941, Lithuania set memory play ‘Ghetto’, staged at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast in 1996.
Following his graduation from Stirling University in 1999, where he read Film and Media Studies, he made his bit part debut in Guy Ritchie’s overblown crime caper ‘Snatch’ in 2000, playing an ensemble traveller, credited only as Gypsy Man, in a cast which featured a decidedly nonplussed Brad Pitt and Dennis Farina. Further big screen roles in 2002/04 were at least an improvement on his ‘Snatch’ contribution, but in lower budgeted productions. He took a co-starring role as university student Liam, in writer Guy De Beaujeu’s limp comedy ‘Living in Hope’ in 2002 and in another modest independent film had a minor part in the same writer’s murky family drama ‘(Past Present Future) Imperfect’ 2004.
A long absence from theatre ended in 2003 with his role as the ruthlessly successful salesman, Ricky Roma in David Mamet’s Pulitzer prize winning ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’, presented as part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s at the Crescent Arts Centre. In another stage appearance, Danny Morrison’s 1984, Belfast set ‘The Wrong Man’, adapted from his novel of the same name, he played loyalist paramilitary Billy, which eventually after much perturbation, opened at the Pleasance Theatre, London in 2005.
Thus his Theatre career sparked into life with a 2006 tour of Ireland in ‘Wuthering Heights’ and a summer sojourn in Los Angeles with Tim Robbins’ Actors Gang, appearing in ‘Love’s Labour Lost’ and ‘Beasts of Burden’. Soon after his return, he performed at the 2006 Liberty Days Festival in Saintfield, Co. Down in Vivien Hewitt’s 1798 rebellion inspired ‘Who Dares to Speak’.
From 2007/10 he had mixed fortunes on stage and screen with minor television roles and a potential career changing cameo as fictional IRA prisoner Gerry Campbell in writer/director Steve McQueen’s multi award winning biopic ‘Hunger’ 2008, starring Michael Fassbender as iconic republican hunger striker Bobby Sands. At Dublin’s Tivoli Theatre in 2010 he was cast as solicitor Jonathan Harker in Michael Scott’s ‘Dracula the Show’, but falling audience figures brought a premature closing of the production and further disappointment with resulting legal proceedings.
Film and television work picked up after a brief stutter, with a clutch of decent roles, beginning with his Belfast shipyard worker, Arthur McAllister in the De Angelis Group’s mega budget mini-series ‘Titanic: Blood and Steel’ in 2012 and a starring credit a year later as Fionn O’Brien in the irish produced romantic comedy ‘The O’Briens’. In between he found time for a short theatre tour, in a revival of Frank McGuinness’ Bloody Sunday elegy ‘Carthaginians’, directed by Adrian Dunbar, which opened at the Millennium Forum, Derry in February 2012.
An incisive cameo as O’Brien in first time director Yann Demange’s acclaimed ‘troubles’ thriller ‘71’, shot alas in the north of England and released in 2014, preceded his leading role as Donovan, in director Jason Boritz’s psychological horror film ‘The Shattering’ 2015. Liam McMahon has been by a long chalk, closer to a breakthrough on screen, which pragmatically seems to be the favoured medium, but hopefully and aesthetically, only for the immediate future.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
-Carnival(2008) Custom’s House Square, Belfast
-La Musica Deuxieme(2010) Unicorn Theatre, London
-A Midsummer Night’s Dream(2013) Tour
Walter Mc Monagle
Born Belfast 1946
Born Omagh 1950