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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:

Theatre

– Will Shakespeare(1921) Shaftesbury Theatre, London

– Pagan in the Parlour(1952) Theatre Royal, Bath

Film

– 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)

TV

– Adventures in Paradise (1959)

– Mr Ed (1963)

Barry Macollum

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:

Theatre

(All Broadway)

– 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

Film

– Bulldog Drummond (1937)

– Tarnished Angel (1938)

– Rulers Of The Sea (1939)

– Marine Raiders (1944)

TV

– 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 touring with Anew McMaster and then 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, who travelled to London for a series of Irish plays presented at the Lyric Hammersmith and Ambassadors Theatre as part of the Festival Of Britain.

In England, he eked out a living in repertory theatre, before a minor breakthrough, when cast in Ugo Betti’s ‘The Queen and the Rebels’ at the Theatre Royal Hammersmith in 1955. In 1958 at the Arts Theatre Club, he appeared with Jack McGowran in ‘The Iceman Cometh’ and more significantly a Royal Court appearance in Beckett’s, ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’, a play the author wrote specifically with him in mind. He made his screen debut in 1959, a brief sighting as Parsons in the series ‘Dial 999’ and in a busy period during 1960 secured further television work, which included a recurring role as Jason in the thriller serial ‘Here Lies Miss Sabry’. That same year director Joseph Losey gave him his first feature film part, an also starring credit in the hard hitting prison drama ‘The Criminal’, starrring Stanley Baker. His character, 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:

Theatre

– 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

Film

– Dementia 13 (1963)

– Zulu (1964)

– Cromwell (1970)

– King Lear (1971)

– Young Winston (1972)

– Telefon (1977)

TV

– Dixon of Dock Green (1964)

– Canterbury Tales (1969)

– Thriller (1974)

– Oresteia (1979)

J.R. (Jimmy) Mageean

*Born Saintfield 1887

*Died Los Angeles 1972

* unverified

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 1929 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:

Theatre

– The Early Bird(1936) Empire Theatre, Belfast

– All Souls’ Night(1949) 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

Film

– Macushla (1937)

– Against the Tide (1937)

– My Wife’s Family (1956)

Oliver Maguire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born Magherafelt

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:

Theatre

-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

 

Film

-Hennessy(1975)

-The Thirty Nine Steps(1978)

-The End of the World Man(1986)

-The Last of the High Kings(1996)

-Coolockland(2000)

 

TV

-The Price(1985)

-We’ll Support You Evermore(1985)

-The Ted Kennedy Jr. Story(1986)

-Echoes(1988)

-The Hanging Gale(1995)

-Kidnapped(1995)

-Bloody Sunday(2002)

-Omagh(2004)

-Proof(2004)

 

Paula Malcomson(Williams)

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:

Theatre

– Anna Christie (2002) Pacific Residents Theatre, Los Angeles

– An Ideal Husband (2003) Met Theatre, Los Angeles.

Film

– Trance (1998)

– Quintessence (2003)

– June And Orlando (2003)

– Grass Stains(2016)

TV

– Baby (2000)

– John from Cincinnati (2007)

– Law&Order: LA(2011)

– Archer(2012)

Denis Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Theatre

-William Poel Commemoration(1951) Old Vic, London

-Hello Out There(1954) Drama Dept, Bristol University

Film

-Scrooge(1951)

TV

-1066 and All That(1952)

Laine Megaw

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:

Theatre

-Bell, Book and Candle(1998) Edinburgh Suite, Europa Hotel, Belfast

Film

-Sunset Heights(1999)

TV

-Give My Head Peace(2001)

-Murphy’s Law(2006)

 

Eleanor Methven

Born Magherafelt 1960

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.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
Theatre
– My Silver Bird(1981) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Somewhere Over the Balcony(1986) Drill Hall, London
– Culture Vultures(1988) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Pentecost(1996) Donmar Warehouse, London
– Our Father(1999) Almeida Theatre, London
– Simpatico(1997) Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast
– The Factory Girls(2001) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Conversations on a Homecoming(2002) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Jane Eyre(2003) Gate Theatre, Dublin
– The Year Of The Hiker(2006) Druid Theatre, Galway(Tour)
– The Last Days of Judas Iscariot(2009) Project Arts Centre, Dublin
– Christ Deliver Us(2010) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
– The Importance of Being Earnest(2010) Gaiety Theatre, Dublin
Film
– The Snapper(1993)
– An Irish Father(2016)
TV
 Falling for a Dancer(1998) 
– D.D.U.(1999)
– Titanic: Blood and Steel(2012)
– The Ice Cream Girls(2012)
– Reign(2013)

Flora Montgomery

Born Greyabbey 4th January 1974

Engaging and comely, occasional leading lady, of proven aristocratic Scottish ancestry, who trained at the Gaeity School of Acting in Dublin during the early nineties.
One of her first professional appearances was as Della, in Dublin’s Co-Motion Theatre Company’s production of Patrick McCabe’s ‘Loco County Lonesome’, at the Garage Theatre, Monaghan in 1994. The following year she made her television debut as Susan Fisher, in an episode of the prison drama ‘The Governor’ and in 1996 returned to Belfast and the Lyric stage, as Kate, in Bill Morrison’s ‘Drive On’, which featured Sean Caffrey and John Keegan in the cast.
Her first big screen role was barely credited, when cast as a film student in director Kieron J. Walsh’s independent produced, ‘The Perfect Blue’, of which little has been seen since it’s release in 1997.
The irony at large in the parallel worlds of stage and screen was never more evident, as, when less than a year later she won the Irish Times sponsored Irish Theatre Award for best actress, for her central performance in August Strindberg’s ‘Miss Julie’, at the Lyric Belfast in 1998.
She became a more familiar face on television over the next couple of years in a wide variety of roles, including a colonial femme fatale in the 1930s Kenya set police drama series, ‘Heat and Sun’, Octavia Aldridge in ‘A Certain Justice’ and Isabella in ‘Wuthering Heights’ all 1998.
In 2000 she took the leading role of Trudy, in Roddy Doyle’s Irish produced romantic comedy ‘When Brendan Met Trudy’, her second project with Kieron J. Walsh and on television the following year, had a guest starring role in the Scottish Highlands set soap ‘Monarch of the Glen’.
She continued to keep a firm hold on her stage aspirations with meritorious performances in Neil LaBute’s trio of plays ‘Bash’ 2001 and Brian Friel’s adaptation of Chekhov’s ‘The Bear’ 2002, both at the Gate Theatre, Dublin.
2003 saw her co-starring  in writer/director Elizabeth Gill’s low budget comedy drama ‘Goldfish Memory’, a  tale of meaningless affairs among Dublin’s young free and singles and on television guested in an episode of the SAS inspired series ‘Ultimate Force’.
In theatre that year she gave a praiseworthy performance as Irene, in Wesley Moore’s thought provoking study of false memory syndrome, ‘A Reckoning’, presented at the Soho Theatre, London; although her next West End appearance was less memorable, playing the frosty Sian in Moira Buffini’s black comedy, ‘Dinner’ at the Wydhams in 2004.
She did however sample a little local dark humour in 2004, cast as Carol in several episodes of BBC NI’s popular comedy series ‘Pulling Moves’, working alongside local actors made good, Kathy Kiera Clarke and Ciaran McMenamin.
On screen in 2005 she had a medial role in the anthropological themed period drama, ‘Man To Man’ and on stage a year later was a splendid Kate in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ at Bristol Old Vic and an unyielding journalist in Colin Teevans’ ‘How Many Miles to Basra’, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds.
She had mixed success in two American film productions in 2006, lucklessly co-starring with a jaded Sharon Stone in the reprehensible ‘Basic Instinct 2’, but fared a little better in her leading role as Addy, in writer/director David L.Cunningham’s bargain basement horror thriller ‘After’.
On television in 2009 she had an also- starring credit as ex-prisoner Dougray Scott’s girlfriend Anna, in Frank Deasy’s IFTA award winning four part crime drama, ‘Father and Son’ 2009, was followed by a noteworthy performance as the disdainful Leonora, in a respectable adaptation of Ford Maddox Ford’s  1915 novel, ‘The Good Soldier’, presented at the Theatre Royal, Bath in 2010.
In 2012 she co-starred as Julia in director Gerald Fox’s film adaptation of Edward St. Aubyn’s novel ‘Mother’s Milk’ and had a sizable role as PG. Wodehouse’s step-daughter Leonora, in writer Nigel Williams’ excellent interpretation of the political leanings of the writer during WW2, screened on BBC4 in March 2013. That same year she gave an insightful performance as Assia Wevill, troubled lover of poet Ted Hughes, played by Daniel Simpson, in Ann Henning Jocelyn’s disjointed play, ‘Doonreagan’, staged at Jermyn Street Theatre, London.
Two guest appearances on television in 2014, preceded her role as novelist Hannah Jarvis, in a touring revival of Tom Stoppard’s comic masterwork, ‘Arcadia’ in 2015.
In a career which still awaits exposition, Flora Montgomery has, despite her best efforts, been unable to raise her profile beyond that of a very capable utility player.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
Theatre
-Walk Hard(2005) Tricycle Theatre, London
-Uncle Vanya(2007) Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Film
– Rabbit Fever(2006)
– Speed Dating(2007)
– The Daisy Chain(2008)
– Endeavour(2012)
TV
– Poirot(2000)
– Murphy’s Law(2005)
– Anner House(2007)
– Quirke(2014)
– Grantchester(2014)

Carol Moore(Scanlan)

 

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:

Theatre

– 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

Film

– The Truth Commissioner(2016)

 

TV

– The Daily Woman(1986)

– Five Minutes of Heaven(2009)

– Scup(2013)

 

 

Colin Morgan

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:

Theatre

-Mojo(2013) Harold Pinter Theatre, London

Film

-Parked(2010)

-Island(2011)

-The Huntsman: Winter’s War(2016)

-The Rising: 1916

TV

-Quirke(2014)

-Humans(2015)

 

Declan Mulholland

Born Belfast  6th December 1932
Died London 29th June 1999
Purposeful and physical journeyman actor, who had no history on the Irish stage before his departure to London in the early fifties, as a qualified carpenter in search of the anticipated work boom.
In the late fifties he joined the radical Somers Town Theatre Group in Camden and during his time there befriended the legendary theatre director Joan Littlewood.
She suggested he might, with a little perseverance, make a living as a professional actor, which at the time was flattering, but for him impractical advice.
Ironically he did find work at Pinewood Studios at the end of the fifties, building and dismantling film sets and several years later made his film debut as Morrison, a lower order crew member, in director Lewis Gilbert’s Napoleonic war drama, ‘HMS Defiant’ 1962.
 In the early years he was to find that acting for a living was not always guaranteed and indeed on more than one occasion was forced to employ his former trade to make ends meet. It was around this time that he made an appearance with the RSC , taking multiple minor roles in the 1962 production ‘ The Caucasian Chalk Circle ‘ at the Aldwych Theatre, London.
His first television appearance, a minor fringe role, came in a 1963 adaptation of ‘As You Like It’, jointly directed by Michael Elliott and Ronald Eyre. Between 1964/1968, he recorded numerous inconsequential small screen credits and included the political drama series, ‘The Midnight Men’ 1964, as a cafe proprietor and as Taffy Jones in the medical soap Dr. Finlay’s Casebook’ 1968.
During the remainder of the sixties his television output amounted to bit parts in obscure series such as ‘The Jazz Age’ 1968 and writer Bill Craig’s 16th century adventure drama, ‘The Borderers’ 1969. He also found low level work in three feature films released in 1968, the best of which was Tony Richardson’s splendid remake of the 1936 Hollywood epic, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’.  That same year he made another West End appearance, with a small part in the Mermaid Theatre’s Christmas pantomime ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, directed by Sean Kenny.
 In the seventies he was still firmly rooted to the lower reaches of the credit lists, with a roll call including such titillating nonsense as ‘Naughty’ 1971 and a walk-on in John Wayne’s London set crime thriller, ‘Brannigan’ 1975.
A subsidiary role in director Peter Medak’s adaptation of Peter Barnes’ ‘The Ruling Class’, was at least a temporary release from the dross and he maintained his interest in theatre, with an appearance in the Royal Court’s production of Edna O’Brien’s ‘A Pagan Place’, both 1972.
One of his few noteworthy screen appearances in the mid to late seventies, was a co-starring role as Olsen, in director Kevin Connor’s adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fantasy adventure, ‘The Land That Time Forgot’ 1975, starring television western stalwart, Doug McClure.
In 1977 the chance of screen immortality was snatched from him, when the scene involving his character Jabba The Hut in ‘Star Wars’ was subsequently deleted, following George Lucas’ realisation that the size and shape of the space creature did not lend itself to human form.
A little consolation was his role as Till, in several episodes of iconic series ‘Doctor Who’ 1978 and in 1980 appeared with two other Belfast born actors, James Ellis  and Sam Kydd in the childrens urban adventure film, ‘High Rise Donkey’.
 A year later he had a co-starring role as Harry in writer Jack Pullman’s successfully adapted mini series ‘Private Schulz’ but the same year was consigned to walk-on part in Terry Gilliam’s comedy fantasy ‘Time Bandits’.
A spell in theatre in the early eighties included significant parts in ‘As You Like It’ at the Aldwych 1981, ‘Lock Up Your Daughters’ at the Queens Theatre London 1982 and a particularly suitable casting as Sir Toby Belch in ‘Twelfth Night’, at the Lyric Belfast in 1983.
Film parts were scarce in the eighties and produced nothing of consequence but he was marginally more fortunate on television, with a brace of guest roles in the zoo based series ‘One by One’ 1985 and ‘Casualty’ 1987.
He had a scrapbook moment in 1993 when he joined the Aldeburgh Festival choir for a CD recording of Benjamin Britten’s ‘The Beggars Opera’, a talent he had hitherto restrained and in his penultimate feature film appearance, had a concise little cameo as a priest, in John Roberts’ marvellous Irish set tragi-comedy ‘War of the Buttons’ 1994.
Declan Mulholland saw out the last years of his career in the manner in which he began, with brief but prudent performances in a number of small budget films, including director Peter Yates’ ‘A Month in the Country’ 1995 and he would have been the first to admit that stardom was always an ambitious expectation, instead he opted for an enjoyable jaunt in the shadow of the limelight.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

– Amadeus(1982) Theatre Royal, Bath

– Act of Union(1980) Soho Poly, London

Film
– Theatre of Blood(1973)
– Joseph Andrews(1977)
– Time Bandits(1981)
– The Tall Guy(1989)
TV
– The Big Spender(1965)
– Rogue Male(1976)
– Quatermass(1979)

Mark Mulholland

Born Dublin 31st May 1939
Died Belfast 24th October 2007
* Included due to a lifetime contribution to local stage and screen
Artful and practised character player and former League of Ireland footballer, who was prominent on the Belfast stage for over thirty years, during which time he forged a serviceable career on screen, appearing in an assortment of ethnically constrained roles from the early seventies.
His first professional stage appearance, a low key credit in G.P.Gallivan’s ‘The Stepping Stone’, a now forgotten but potent drama based on the 1921 Anglo/Irish Treaty which premiered at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin in 1963, was followed with a walk-on television debut in John O’Connor’s childrens fantasy ‘Neilly And The Fir- Tree’, 1964.
He made an early impression in Ulster theatre, cast as Alan Bradshaw in Sam Cree’s comedy ‘Widows Paradise’ at the Arts Belfast in 1966 and a year later at the same venue took a small role as Demetrius, in a routine production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
In 1969 he appeared in three plays staged in Dublin, the first an Ulster Theatre Company presentation of George Shiel’s revisionist piece, ‘Macook’s Corner’ at the Abbey, featuring a cast of former Group Theatre leading lights, including J.G.Devlin, Margaret D’Arcy and Harold Goldblatt.
In August of that year, again at the Abbey, he played Charles Burton in Conor Farrington’s Irish period drama, ‘Aaron Thy Brother’ and the following month took the role of The Warder in John Boyd’s ‘The Assassin’, a Dublin Theatre Festival offering presented at the Gaiety.
His film debut was predictably on message, cast as Jack Sloan in director Daniel Haller’s somewhat bawdy romantic farce, ‘Paddy’ 1970 and the same year had a similarly peripheral role in Lamont Johnson’s war drama ‘The Mackenzie Break’.
Following several low profile years, he re-emerged in Patrick Galvin’s ‘We Do It For Love’ at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast in 1975 and for a period in the late seventies worked irregularly in RTE’s rural drama series ‘ The Riordan’s’, in which his character Dr. Murray was decidedly on the wrong side of underused.
At the beginning of the eighties he was offered a co-starring film role as Martin Sweeney, in Pat Murphy’s independently produced ‘Maeve’ 1981, a little seen but thought provoking study of love and dissent within the republican laager.
His Lyric Theatre appearances in a two year period from 1982 were prodigious to say the least, with leading roles in a wide variety of plays including Graham Reid’s ‘The Hidden Curriculum’ 1982, Martin Lynch’s ‘Castles in the Air’ 1983, Daniel Magee’s ‘Horseman Pass By’ and John Boyd’s ‘The Flats’ both 1984.
On television he was an ideal choice for the part of Uncle Andy in Graham Reid’s celebrated Billy trilogy, appearing in the second and third of the series, ‘A Matter of Choice for Billy’ 1983 and ‘A Coming to Terms for Billy’ 1984.
A memorable cameo as hoary protestant paramilitary gunman Norman in Alan Bleasdale’s marvellous black comedy ‘No Surrender’ 1985, gave a hint of his proficiency in fashioning a fine line in ethnic types but although obviously capable, he was still no closer to a significant screen breakthrough.
At The Lyric in 1985 he appeared as grieving father Seamus Moore in Martin Lynch’s West Belfast set drama ‘Minstrel Boys’ and again at the Lyric was perfectly cast as mature student Andy, in John Boyd’s angst ridden and edgy ‘Summer Class’.
In the late eighties he found work with varying degrees of success in all media, appearing regularly at the Lyric, notably in the 1988 premiere of Robin Glendinning’s comedy drama ‘Culture Vultures’ and on television in 1989 played Father O’Malley in an adaptation of Catherine Cookson’s Tyneside set period melodrama ‘The Fifteen Streets’.
He disappeared from the screen until 1992, when he returned in two bit part roles, misemployed as a peasant in Ron Howard’s anaemic Irish themed frolic ‘Far and Away’ and barely noticed as Mr O’Hare in an episode of the popular crime drama series ‘Taggart’.
A dormant spell in theatre during the nineties was temporized only by his masterly performance as traveller patriarch Old Mikey, in Deirdre Hines’ ‘A Moving Destiny’, presented at The Building Theatre, Ballina in 1996.
For the remainder of the decade his film and television appearances were meagre and only his role of the rough living Tick in the mini-series ‘Eureka Street’ 1999, gave at least a meaningful slant to an otherwise inert period.
During 2002/03 he made his customary ephemeral appearances in two locally produced films, imperceptible as George Devine in director Terence Ryans constrained adaptation of Spike Milligan’s ‘Puckoon’ 2002 and inanimate as the Old Sheep Farmer in Karl Golden’s comedy ‘The Honeymooners’ 2003.
In 2002 at The Theatre On The Rock in West Belfast, he gave an ebullient performance as cantankerous painter and decorator Misery, in Brenda Murphy’s adaptation of ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist’, in a cast including old Lyric and Arts collegue John Hewitt. His final screen endeavours were as incidental as before, with director Gil Kenan’s Belfast shot, fantasy adventure ‘City of Ember’, released in 2008, shading it on credit significance.
Mark Mulholland, despite his inventory of inconsequential screen roles, was undeniably superior to the product and on stage he was seldom found wanting, an instinctive actor who perhaps reaped less than he deserved.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
Theatre
– Country Boy(1977) Arts Theatre, Belfast
– Affluence(1981) Arts Theatre, Belfast
– A Streetcar Named Desire(1984) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Northern Star(1984) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Over the Bridge(1990) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Right Again Barnum(1996) Arts Theatre, Belfast
Film
– The Boxer(1997)
– A Love Divided(1999)
– Miss Conception(2008)
TV
– Lorna(1987)
– Sailortown(1993)
Gerard Murphy
Born Newry 14th October 1948
Died Cambridge, England 26th August 2013
Wistful and deliberate character actor and sometime theatre director, who was a constant member of Newry’s Newpoint Players from his mid- teens.
Indeed he made his debut with them in 1965 in ‘ The Hearts A Wonder’, a musical version of Synge’s ‘The Playboy Of The Western World’.
He made an early professional stage appearance in 1967 at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, then based in Derryvolgie Avenue, in ‘The Tragedy of King Richard II and at the new venue in Ridgeway Street in 1972, played Myles in Joe O’Donnell’s comedy ‘The Lads.’ That same year he had a high profile introduction to television, when cast as John Hoyle in an episode of the iconic police drama series ‘Z Cars’.
His first brush with the London stage came in 1973, taking minor roles in two plays, Trevor Nunn’s ‘The Romans’ at the Aldwych and David Rudkin’s ‘Cries From the Basement’ at The Place.
During the mid to late seventies he appeared in numerous productions with Glasgow Citizens Theatre, including ‘The Changeling’ 1976, ‘The Country Wife’, ‘Chinchilla’ and was a gloriously over the top Miss Prism in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, all 1977.
Then followed some low key television work, the best of which was his role of Rory O’Riordan in an adaptation of Howard Spring’s novel ‘My Son My Son’ in 1979 and a year later enjoyed a higher cast rating in a brace of  plays for the BBC ‘s Playhouse series.
 Notable stage roles in the early eighties included, Johnny Boyle in the RSC production of ‘Juno and the Paycock’ at the Aldwych 1980 and the Young Shepherd in ‘The Winters Tale’ at the RST in 1981.
Two undoubted career highpoints were his roles in ‘Henry IV’, the Barbican’s inaugural production in 1982 and ‘Two Noble Kinsmen’ with the RSC, the opening play at the reborn Swan Theatre in 1986.
His first big screen appearance was as Father Larkin in writer/director Barbara Rennie’s now forgotten comedy drama, ‘Sacred Hearts’ 1985 but unbelievable as it may have seemed then, he would have to wait almost ten years for his next film role.
In the interim he did some sterling work on stage with the RSC, appearing at the Barbican as Oberon in ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’, an acutely observed Faustus in ‘Dr Faustus’ at the Swan and on a rare visit to Belfast, appeared at the Arts Theatre in Moliere’s ‘The School for Wives’ all 1989.
In the nineties he worked primarily in theatre, with prominent roles in ‘ The Theban Plays’ at the Barbican 1991, ‘Volpone’ for the Birmingham Rep in 1993 and in a return to the Citizens Theatre in 1998, played a rather revved up ‘Macbeth’, in a peculiarly condensed version of the Scottish play.
His second film appearance came in the much maligned blockbuster ‘Water World’ 1996, starring Kevin Costner, in which he had his fair share of screen time as Nord, strong arm man of Dennis Hopper’s arch villain, Deacon.
On television in 1999 he played Planchet in director Patrick Lau’s two season series, ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ and worked with Lau again as the surly Detective Inspector Bracken in the medi-cop drama series ‘McCallum’, in a cast which also featured Ulster born Zara Turner, as forensic pathologist Dr Angela Moloney.
At Manchester Royal Exchange in 2001, he produced a matchless performance as tenant farmer Phil Hogan in Eugene O’Neill’s classic play ‘A Moon for the Misbegotten’ and was outstanding as George, opposite Clare Higgins in Edward Albee’s ‘ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ? ‘ at Bristol Old Vic in 2002.
In 2005 he increased his film tally to three, when he took the role of Judge Faden in director Christopher Nolan’s unremarkable ‘Batman Begins’ but at least saw his name on the credit list with  another Ulster actor, Liam Neeson.
Showing more than a little dexterity, he took to the stage at the Crucible in Sheffield in 2006, playing Samuel Byck in the Stephen Sondheim musical ‘Assassins’, ably directed by Nikolai Foster, with whom he was reunited when he appeared as Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s ‘Amadeus’ at the same venue in 2007.
Theatre again assumed prominence during 2008/10, with choice roles in ‘Turandot’, Bertolt Brecht’s final but unfinished play presented at the Hampstead Theatre, in which he was resplendent as The Emperor of China’ and as the heartless Sergeant Browne in Leo Butler’s 18th century Limerick set, ‘I’ll Be the Devil’, an RSC commission performed at the Tricycle Theatre, London, both 2008.
At the Festival Theatre, Chichester in 2010, in Peter Hall’s adaptation of Sheridan’s comedy of manners, ‘The Rivals’, he produced a delineated performance as the indigent Irish baronet Sir Lucius O’Trigger, in a cast featuring former’ To the Manor Born’ sparring partners , Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles. In June 2012 and despite his terminal illness, he returned to one of his favourite venues, the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, encompassing the stage in Beckett’s 1957, one act solo play, ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’, directed by Dominic Hill.
Gerard Murphy was a predestined thespian, who needed no encouragement to cut a laudable swathe in a theatre career which crossed five decades.
He was however unable to establish even a functional film equivalent, which  confined his star to a cultured and arguably more aesthetically rewarding world.
Other Theatre Film and TV credits:
Theatre
– Man Of La Mancha(1972) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
-Chinchilla(1977) Glasgow Citizens Theatre
-The Witch Of Edmonton(1981) RSC The Other Place, Stratford
-Phedra(1984) Old Vic, London
-The Glass Menagerie(1985) Greenwich Theatre, London
-The Silver King(1986) Swan Theatre, Stratford
-The Manchurian Candidate(1990) Theatre Royal, Bath
-One Of These Days(2006) RSC The Cube, Stratford
-Henry V(2007) Royal Exchange, Manchester
-London Assurance(2008) Watermill Theatre, Newbury
-King Lear(2009) Tour
-The History Boys(2010) Tour.
Film
-Pumpgirl(2009)
-The Comedian(2012)
TV  
-Catchpenny Twist(1977)
-Billy Boy(1982)
-Aunt Suzanne(1984)
-Vanity Fair(1998)
-I Was A Rat(2001)
-Waking The Dead(2005)
-Trial And Retribution(2005)
-Dalziel And Pascoe(2007)
-Spooks(2009)

J.J. Murphy

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

-Affluence(1980) Tour

-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.

 

Wesley Murphy

Born
Enduring, peripheral screen actor, who registered infinitely better stage successes in a long career which began aged nineteen at Tyrone Guthrie’s annual Stratford Ontario Shakespeare Festival in 1958.
His Canadian sojourn also included  a period with an experimental theatre company based in Toronto, with whom he appeared in enthusiastic but shoestring productions such as Chekov’s ‘The Boor’ and Lorca’s ‘Don Perlimplin’, both 1959. He returned to Britain at the beginning of the sixties and made his television debut in a walk-on role as 2nd Airman in the Bond prototype series ‘Dangerman’ 1961.
Screen work in the early sixties was hardly fast and furious and afforded him only minor parts in the series ‘Sir Francis Drake’ 1962, ‘The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling’ 1964, ‘Londoners’ 1965 and the ‘Crane ‘ spin-off ‘Orlando’1967, starring Belfast born Sam Kydd. Later in the decade his television appearances were almost exclusively confined to the popular Teleplay format screened on a regular basis by both BBC and ITV, with production titles as obvious as Theatre 625, The Wednesday Play, ITV Playhouse and Play for Today.
In a BBC Play of the Month in 1969 he took a prominent role as George Macken in Dominic Behan’s oblique anti-war piece ‘The Patriot Game’, which also featured Belfast based stage veteran Elizabeth Begley.
He was out of luck on screen during the seventies, with the exception of an also- starring role in Eugene McCabe’s ‘Cancer’, the first of his celebrated ‘Victims’ trilogy broadcast on RTE in 1973, in which he co-starred with JG. Devlin. At the Lyric Theatre Belfast in 1981 he headed a cast of established players in the title role of a functional production of ‘Julius Caesar’ and in 1984, some twenty four years into his career, he at last landed his first film part.
Unfortunately it was a low-key introduction credited as Donovan in director Alan Gibson’s Canadian set drama ‘Martin’s Day’, written by Volker Boehm and starring Richard Harris as prison escapee and reluctant kidnapper Martin Steckart.
Later in the eighties he returned to the Lyric for two plays in quick succession, playing The Colonel in the premiere of Robin Glendinning’s ‘The Culture Vultures’ in October 1988 and in December appeared as Ebenezer Scrooge in John Boyd’s entertaining re-working of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’.
Cameo roles in works by two rising stars of the Irish literary firmament, Dermot Bolger and Sebastian Barry, brought him to the Abbey Theatre in 1990. In Bolger’s frantic Dublin set comedy ‘Blinded by the Light’, he was a perfectly rounded Scottish Gentleman and in Barry’s convoluted, religion soaked drama ‘Prayers of Sherkin’, he played with relish, god fearing shop-keeper Stephen Pearse.
During the nineties he worked periodically in films and television, most notably in writer/director Johnny Gogan’s Irish produced big screen comedy ‘The Bargain Shop’ 1992 and the same year had a miniscule role as a landlord in Ron Howard’s misguided Cruise/Kidman vehicle ‘Far and Away’.
Television work amounted to secondary appearances in director Kevin Connor’s commendable ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ 1995, a fleeting guest credit in an  episode of ‘Ballykissangel’ 1997 and a bit part as Maurice in the Dublin crime drama ‘Vicious Circle’ 1999.
In Gary Mitchell’s uncompromising ‘As the Beast Sleeps’, which premiered at the Abbey in 1998, he was particularly convincing as loyalist politician Alec, sitting uncomfortably between new found legitimacy and links to his nefarious past.
From 2000 his screen work rate slowed to very occasional and indeed but for some minor involvement in two episodes of writer Michael Hirst’s factually incautious period drama ‘The Tudors’ in 2009, his recognition level would have been considered dangerously low.
Wesley Murphy’s career, which began over fifty years ago, gave him few opportunities to make a major breakthrough, but did for most of that time provide an unremitting interest in all available media.
Other Theatre and TV credits:
Theatre
– The Quare Fellow(1967) Queens Theatre, Hornchurch
– HadrianVII(1995) Chichester Festival Theatre
TV
-The Jazz Age(1968)
-Elizabeth R.(1971)
-Brett(1971)
-Hine(1975)
-The Sweeney(1975)
-The Treaty(1991)
-St. Ives(1998)
-Das Licht von Afrika(2003)
-The Clinic(2005)

Jenn Murray

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:

Film

-Testament of Youth(2014)

-Brooklyn(2015)

-Love & Friendship(2016)

TV
-The Clinic(2008)
-The Bill(2009)
-Lewis(2010)

Des McAleer

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:

Theatre

– 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

Film

– Butterfly Kiss (1995)

– My Week with Marilyn (2011)

– How I Live Now(2013)

TV

– 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)

Patrick McAlinney

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 debut at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith 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:

Theatre

– Ballyfarland’s Festival (1953) Group Theatre, Belfast

– Farewell, Farewell, Eugene (1959) Garrick Theatre, London

– Man and Superman (1966) Vaudeville Theatre, London

Film

– The Pot Carriers (1962)

– Gold is Where You Find It (1968)

– Revenge (1971)

TV

– The World of Tim Frazer (1961)

– Special Branch (1973)

– Kizzy (1976)

– Butterflies (1978)

John McBride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:

Theatre

-Moodie in Manitoba(1969) Grove Theatre, Belfast

TV

-Suspense(1963)

-Theatre 625(1965/68)

-The Revenue Men(1967)

-Boatman Do Not Tarry(1968)

 

 

Leo McCabe

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:

Theatre

-The Cherry Orchard(1971) Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Film

– My Irish Molly (1938)

James McCaffrey

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:

Film

– Coming Soon (1999)

– Distress (2003)

– Feel The Noise (2007)

– Camp Hell(2010)

– Meskada(2010)

– Nonames(2010)

– Sam (2015)

– Coach of the Year (2015)

TV

– Swift Justice (1996)

– Switched At Birth (1999)

– Canterbury’s Law (2008)

– Blue Bloods(2011)

– Suits (2013)

– Forever (2014)

R.H. McCandless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born Moville, Co. Donegal 28th January 1884

Died 1971

*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. In 1936 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)

-Mountain Post(1948)

-Bannister’s Café(1949)

-Master Adams(1949)

-Fiddler’s Folly(1951)

-Signs and Wonders(1951)

-Arty(1951)

-Ballyfarland’s Festival(1953)

-The Farmer Wants a Wife(1955)

All Group Theatre, Belfast.

 

 

Martin(Marty)McCann

Born Belfast 20th July 1983
Ebullient character player, whose first acting experience came early, aged eleven, when he was cast as the Artful Dodger in the Ulster Operatic Society’s presentation of ‘Oliver; at the Arts Theatre Belfast in 1994. He persevered and in his teens joined Youth Action Northern Ireland’s Rainbow Factory drama group, taking central credits in several productions in the late nineties, most notably in the title role of ‘Bugsy Malone’ at the Group Theatre Belfast.
His youthful low-key career continued into the new millennium, with appearances as Adam and (others) in the ‘Little Mermaid’ at the An Grianan Theatre Letterkenny in 2003 and a tour with Kilkenny based children and youth theatre company, Barnstorm as Dee Dee in Maeve Ingoldsby’s translation of Volker Ludwig’s ‘Digger, Doc and Dee Dee’  in 2004.
He made his television debut that year, a brief glimpse as Peter, in an episode of the lamented comedy series ‘Pulling Moves’ and in the Lyric’s seasonal offering, appeared as Wilbur The Pig in director Richard Croxford’s adaptation of E.B.White’s delightful children’s story, ‘Charlotte’s Web’. On stage in Belfast in 2005 he took further leading roles in two Rawlife Theatre productions; as top droog Alex in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ at the Potthouse and as tomboy surfer Chiclet Forrest in Charles Busch’s ‘Psycho Beach Party’ at the Old Museum Arts Centre.
His performance as Alex led directly to his big screen breakthrough, when cast as Jimmy Riley in Richard Attenborough’s romantic drama ‘Closing the Ring’ 2007, shot in part in Belfast, with a strong cast including Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Pete Postlethwaite.
Earlier in 2007 he had a pivotal role as Guardsman Bowe in the television adaptation of David Haig’s WW1 set stage success, ‘My Boy Jack’ and in theatre, appeared first as Alan, in Fergal McElherron’s ‘To Have And To Hold’ at the OMAC and at the Lyric, as hot-head Liam, in Tim Loane’s comedy, ‘To Be Sure’. His screen career gathered steam from 2009, with starring roles in Conor McDermottroe’s Sligo based drama, ‘Swansong: Story Of Occi Byrne’ and as subject of the title, Ian Hay- Gordon, in writer/director Michael McDowell’s television docu-drama ‘Scapegoat’, depicting the events surrounding the murder of nineteen year old judge’s daughter, Patricia Curran in 1952.
With his star not yet in top gear, but firmly in the ascendancy, his screen work during 2010/11 placed him within reach of international recognition. A big boost was his casting as Cpl.R.V. Burgin in HBO’s spectacular, Golden Globe nominated, WW2 mini-series, ‘Pacific’ in 2010.  His most significant role to date and played to agreeable perfection, was the cocky sixteen year old U2  front man  Paul Hewson in director Nick Hamm’s somewhat disjointed, fact meets fictional, 2011 feature ‘Killing Bono’, filmed in Northern Ireland and featuring a final film appearance by Pete Postlethwaite, who died three months before it’s release.
At the Baby Grand Studio, Belfast in 2012, he played the swanking Silvio in an infrequent revival of James McClure’s raw, black comedy Pvt. Wars. In a productive period on screen from 2013, he appeared in numerous films, most notably as Michael Ellis in the drama ‘X+Y ‘ in 2015 and as the titular ‘Survivalist’ in writer/director Stephen Fingleton’s 2016 sci-fi thriller, shot on location in Co. Antrim.
It is worth remembering that Marty McCann was twenty four on the release of ‘Closing the Ring’, not exactly a teenage sensation, but he has since produced at least three performances that have established the foundation of what could be a successful screen career.
Other Theatre, Film and TV Credits:
Theatre
– Flight(2005) Playhouse Theatre, Derry (tour)
– 1974 The End Of The Year Show(2006) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Film
– Clash Of The Titans(2010)
– Fishbowl(2014)
– ’71(2014)
– The Rezort(2015)
TV
– Dry Your Eyes(2006/07)
– Titanic: Blood and Steel(2012)
– Ripper Street(2014)

Allan McClelland

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. Sheriff’s ‘Journeys End’ at the short lived Playhouse Theatre, Belfast in 1937. He remained with the company under Harald 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:

Theatre

– Danger Men Working(1950) Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith

– Ulysses in Nighttown(1959) Arts Theatre Club, London

TV

– The Villains(1965)

– Budgie(1971)

– The Carnforth Practice (1974)

– Murder Motel (1975)

– Premiere (1980)

Emer McCourt

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:

Theatre

– No One Sees the Video(1990) Royal Court, Theatre Upstairs, London

– A View From the Bridge(1994) Bristol Old Vic

TV

– Shoot to Kill (1990)

– The House of  Bernarda Alba (1991)

– Frank Stubbs(1993)

Frank McCusker

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’.

At the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh in 1995 he was trench bound Tommy, George Anderson, exchanging Belfast banter with Lalor Roddy’s Nat McIwaine in a splendid Festival revival of Frank McGuinness’ WW1 exposition, ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme’.
 He played another Belfast character, this time  calculating loyalist drinking club manager Jack, in Gary Mitchell’s disturbing ‘As the Beast Sleeps’, which premiered at the Abbey in 1998 and boasted a strong Ulster cast including Stuart Graham, Colm Convey and Patrick O’Kane. A significant film role as Tom O’Toole in Angelica Huston’s feel good comedy drama ‘Agnes Browne’ 1999, would raise his profile a little higher and  provide the required bounce into the new century. Work did come thicker and faster and he was quickly off the mark at the Abbey in 2000 in another Tom Murphy piece, ‘The House’ and the same year was a seriously obsequious Uriah Heep in director Peter Medak’s Emmy nominated television adaptation of  ‘David Copperfield’.
 An estimable portrayal of Patrick Pearse in Ronan Bennett’s ‘Rebel Heart’, screened as a mini-series in 2001, was followed later that year by the successful Abbey production ,‘Communion’, Aidan Mathews’ cogent family drama, in which he gave a exceptional performance as manic depressive son Marcus McHenry.
On television in 2002 he reprised his role of Jack, in director Harry Bradbeer’s faithful screen version of ‘As the Beast Sleeps’, with all the main cast intact from the original Abbey run four years earlier. 2004 proved the most fruitful year of his career to date, with a succession of  film, television and stage appearances. Most noteworthy were the Emmy nominated ‘The Blackwater Lightship’, Colm Toibin’s Aids centred drama filmed at Bray Studios in Wicklow, Damien O’Donnell’s acclaimed black comedy ‘Inside I’m Dancing’ and on stage as Provo enforcer JJ, in Stuart Carolan’s compelling ‘Defender of the Faith’, for which he won an Irish Times ESB Award as Best Supporting Actor.
At the Lyric Belfast in 2005, both he and Lalor Roddy were in striking form as the squabbling Connor brothers in Martin McDonagh’s pitch black comedy, ‘The Lonesome West’, the last play in his Leenane trilogy.
 He then joined the Globe Theatre in London for a short spell in 2005/06 appearing as Roman Tribune Sicinius Velutus in new artistic director Dominic Dromgoole’s first production, a respectable attempt at Shakespeare’s political tragedy ‘Coriolanus’. Marius Von Mayenburg’s short and spartan satire on vanity, ‘The Ugly One’, brought him back to the London stage in 2007, where at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, he took his fair share of the plaudits in dual roles as Plug Tester and the tormented bisexual Karlmann in arguably the quirkiest Royal Court production of recent times. On the big screen in 2008 he was the Prison Governor in director Steve McQueen’s award winning ‘Hunger’, a graphic study of the last days of Irish Republican icon Bobby Sands and on television during 2009/10 appeared as Risley, Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII, in the more than poetically licensed ‘The Tudors’.
He then landed a decent role as magnate Charles Stokes in Titanic: Blood and Steel, 2012 and was Gillian Anderson’s number two, DCI Garrett Brink in the first series of Allan Cubitt’s psychological thriller ‘The Fall’ in 2013. At the Abbey Theatre in 2012, he was the desirous portrait painter, Basil Hallwood in director Neil Bartlett’s Dublin Theatre Festival offering, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, with a commendable Tom Canton, making his professional debut, in the title role. Frank McCusker, despite his lack of a discernible persona, has engineered a solid no frills career with a series of  laudable performances in all media, an assured player without the complications of stardom.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
Theatre
-The Man with the Flower In his Mouth(1993) Project Arts, Dublin
-Life Support(1996) Theatre Royal, Bath
-The Collection(1997) Gate Theatre, Dublin
-Aristocrats(1999) Lincoln Centre, New York
-The Wild Duck(2003) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-The Shadow of a Gunman(2004) Tricycle Theatre, London
-Romeo and Juliet(2008) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-The Last Days of a Reluctant Tyrant(2009) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-Richard II(2013) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
-Lally the Scut(2015) The MAC, Belfast
Film
-Nothing Personal(1995)
-Bloodlines: Legacy of a Lord(1997)
-The Affair of the Necklace(2001)
TV
-Getting Hurt(1998)
-Proof(2004)
-Pulling Moves(2004
-Bad Girls(2005)
-Bittersweet(2008)

Stella McCusker

Born Aghagallon(Lurgan) 1942
Proficient Lyric Theatre doyen whose association spans seven decades and where she made her professional stage debut as heroine Kate Hardcastle in Oliver Goldsmith’s 18th century comedy ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ in 1969. She did precede that appearance by three years, when as an enthusiastic ingenue with the Lyric Players Theatre Company, then based on the Grosvenor Road in Belfast, she appeared  in their 1966 production of Dion Boucicault’s ‘The Shaughraun’. However her stage experience began as an eager teenager with her local Lurgan Operatic Society, appearing in numerous productions from the late fifties and into the early sixties.
At the Group Theatre Belfast in 1970 she played bride- to- be  Judy Marshall in Sam Cree’s farce ‘Separate Beds’, a typical bill of fare then on offer at the former hot bed of Ulster drama, which although popular, was hardly cutting edge theatre.
Her Lyric residency began in earnest in the early seventies, in plays such as Patrick Galvin’s tale of witchcraft in  late 19th century Tipperary, ‘The Last Burning’ 1974 and George Farquhar’s period comedy ‘The Beau Stratagem’ 1975.
Among her best work with the Lyric Players in the latter half of the decade, were John Boyd’s ‘The Street’, Frank Dunne’s ‘The Rise and Fall of Barney Kerrigan’, both 1977 and Sam Thompson’s often neglected ‘The Evangelist’ 1978.
She was still very much stage bound at the Lyric into the early eighties, with a starring role as Maggie Reilly in the Tommy McArdle adaptation ‘Heritage’ 1980 and as Theresa Graham in Martin Lynch’s debut play ‘Dockers’ 1981.
In 1982 she continued to dominate the Lyric’s credit lists, most notably in ‘The Glass Menagerie’, Graham Reid’s ‘The Hidden Cirriculum’, ‘John Gabriel Borkman’ and as a praiseworthy Mrs Dunwoody in Stewart Parker’s musical comedy ‘Kingdom Come’.
Her 1984 television debut in Stewart Parker’s ‘Aunt Suzanne’ was long overdue but unfortunately did not provoke a flurry of screen activity, instead she wrapped herself in the comfort zone of the Lyric stage, where in 1985 she took a leading role in Martin Lynch’s powerful IRA hunger strike drama, ‘The Minstrel Boys’.
Some low key television work trickled her way in the late eighties, with also starring roles in writer Anne Devlin’s ‘Naming the Names’ 1986 and the post WWI, Irish set melodrama, ‘Troubles’ 1988 and the same year appeared with Dublin’s Gate Theatre Company, at the John Golden Theatre, New York, in an excellent production of ‘Juno and the Paycock’, presented as part of the first ever New York Festival of Arts.
Another television cameo in 1992 saw her as Mrs Hagan in Graham Reid’s localised drama, ‘You Me and Marley’, in a cast including Bronagh Gallagher and Ian McElhinney. During the nineties her theatre work was on the wrong side of busy but she did manage a few decent parts outside of the Lyric’s influence and included Vincent Woods’ ‘At The Black Pigs Dyke’ at the Druid in Galway in 1992, Marina Carr’s ‘The Mai’ 1994 and  ‘Portia Coughlan’ 1996, both at the Abbey.
In 2003 she was perfect as headmistress Mrs Tanney in the television drama ‘Holy Cross’ and in a curious piece of casting, played the Queen in William Humble’s absurd Charles and Camilla melodrama ‘Whatever Love Means’ 2005.
She was certainly more confident as Nell, in Samuel Beckett’s ‘Endgame’ at Belfast’s Waterfront Studio in 2006, where in the familiar company of Ian McElhinney and Conleth Hill, she showed her stage craft to full effect. At Dublin’s Gate Theatre in 2007, she gave a comfortably self-assured performance as old nurse Marina in Brian Friel’s translation of Chekhov’s lament of lost ambitions, ‘Uncle Vanya’. In 2009 she delivered an Irish Theatre Award winning performance as ill-disposed mother Mag Folan, opposite Geraldine Hughes’ forlorn daughter Maureen, in the Lyric Theatre’s touring production of Martin McDonagh’s coal-black comedy, ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’.
Most notable among her screen cameos at this time, was as iniquitous former nun, Rita Monroe in writer Ken Bruen’s ‘Jack Taylor: The Magdalene Martyrs’ 2011, based on his series of crime novels featuring the shambolic ex- detective of the title. In 2012 she played Mother, in the touring production of Ron Hutchinson’s social drama ‘Paisley and Me’ and took the recurring role of Sheila, in the BBC N. Ireland drama ‘6Degrees’ in 2013. Further stage work included a tour with a revival of Frank McGuinness’  ‘The Factory Girls’ in 2013 and as Peasebottom in a quirky re-working of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, staged at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 2015 and directed by Gavin Quinn.
In another age, Stella McCusker staked her claim in Irish theatre and there she remained, a talented if reluctant traveller.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
Theatre
– Hobson’s Choice(1980) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Minstrel Boys(1985) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Pygmies in the Ruins(1991) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Medea(1993) Theatre Royal, Bath
– Roberto Zucco(1997) The Other Place, Stratford
– Our Father(1999) Almeida Theatre, London
– Tree Houses(2000) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
– Communion(2001) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
– To Have and to Hold(2007) Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast
– The Holy Bus(2015) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Film
– The Playboys(1992)
– This Is the Sea(1997)
– Standby(2014)
– My Name is Emily(2015)
TV  
– Act of Betrayal(1988)
– Dear Sarah(1989)
– Five Minutes of Heaven(2009)
– Five Day Shelter (2010)
– Roadkill(2011)
– Game of Thrones(2015)

Ian McElhinney

Born Lisburn 1948
Subtle and decorous all purpose actor, with some directing experience and a long list of acting credits, who after a theatre studies course at Brandeis University in Boston, returned home and later joined the Lyric Players Company, making an early appearance there as Sebastian in ‘The Tempest’ 1979.
For the next four years he appeared with distinction in many Lyric productions, such as ‘Heritage’ 1980, and two Martin Lynch plays,’ Dockers’ 1981 and ‘The Interrogation of Ambrose Fogarty’ 1982.
Other roles in 1982 included Barney Banks, in Field Day’s inaugural production of Brian Friel’s ‘The Communication Cord, presented at the Guildhall Derry, which boasted a quality cast including Stephen Rea and Gerard McSorley.
His first film appearance came in Neil Jordan’s excellent 1982 feature debut ‘Angel’, in which he played a shadowy rural Ulster paramilitary figure and featured Stephen Rea as the traumatised saxophonist turned avenger, Danny.
For McElhinney, in his limited role capacity, the film at least offered him an opportunity to impress an international audience but he would have to wait a further two years for another shot at big screen stardom.
His Lyric appearances in 1983 included the part of  English army officer Andrew Martin, in Jennifer Johnston’s 1920s West Cork set ‘Indian Summer’ and an acutely solemn Malvolio in a functional production of ‘Twelfth Night’.
Film credits during this period were still classified as minor, the more significant of which were, writer/director Pat Murphy’s Irish period drama ‘Anne Devlin’ 1984, Bill Miskelly’s urban Belfast fable ‘The End of the World Man’ 1985 and the Liam Neeson vehicle ‘Lamb’ 1986.
On stage in the mid- eighties he appeared in several prestigious Dublin productions, most notably as Nat McIlwaine in the premiere of Frank McGuinness’ ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards The Somme’ at the Abbey in 1985 and Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ at the Gaiety in 1986, which saw a mesmerizing performance from Ray McAnally as the mentally imploding Willy Loman.
Despite his proven ability, he failed to make a big screen breakthrough and finished the eighties with a brace of also starring roles in the Irish produced ‘Reefer and the Model’ and the bigger budgeted ‘A Prayer for the Dying’, both 1987.
He did eventually secure a starring role as Max Raines in the Michael Rolf directed television mini- series ‘Wipe Out’ 1988 and two years later played Asst Chief Constable Forbes in the politically contentious docudrama ‘Shoot to Kill’ 1990.
In 1991 he co-starred in director Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s independently produced film ‘In the Border Country’ and a year later had a small role in the 1950s rural Ireland set romantic drama ‘The Playboys’, starring Albert Finney and Aidan Quinn.
His stage credentials were tested vigorously at this time, with  prominent roles in Ron Hutchinson’s ‘Pygmies in the Ruins’ at the Royal Court, London, Billy Roache’s RSC production ‘Amphibians’ at the Barbican, both 1992 and a fine adaptation of Ibsen’s ‘A Dolls House’ at the Gate Dublin in 1993.
In 1994 he was cast not unconventionally, but certainly high on peculiarity, as an Irish priest in director Richard Spence’s off beat television western ‘Blind Justice’ and for the remainder of the nineties worked continuously on film and television, with noteworthy big screen performances in Martin Duffy’s ‘The Boy from Mercury’, Gillies MacKinnon’s ‘Small Faces’ and as a hard nosed Belfast detective in  ‘Michael Collins’ all 1996.
On television he had top billing as Sgt Duncan Bonney in the one season police drama series ‘Wokenwell’ 1997 and continued his crime fighting as C.S. Jack Freeman opposite Pauline Quirke in another series ‘Maisie Raine’ 1998.
A year later, his wife, playwright Marie Jones, dusted down and revised her 1996 play ‘Stones in His Pockets’, which was then presented at the Lyric Belfast with him as director.
 It was the beginning of a triumphant tour which took in the West End and on to the John Golden Theatre on Broadway in 2001, earning Tony nominations for actors Conleth Hill and Sean Campion, with McElhinney himself nominated as best director.
From 2000 his screen appearances, although plentiful, were short on substance and only his Inspector Devlin in the Irish thriller ‘The Map Maker’ 2001 and bereaved husband Stanley McCombe in director Pete Travis’ ‘Omagh’  2004, stood up to scrutiny.
In a return to theatre in 2006, he was more convincing as Nagg, playing literally opposite Stella McCusker’s Nell, in director Mark Lambert’s adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Endgame’ at the Waterfront Studio Belfast and in 2007/08 played retired Garda Sergeant Gerry Driscoll in the West Of Ireland set RTE drama series ‘Single-Handed’. He was certainly close to screen overload in the period 2008/12 with a glut of  roles, which on balance proved more significant than his efforts at the beginning of the new millennium. Arguably the best of these was his bold knight Barristan Selmy in the HBO fantasy adventure series, ‘Game of Thrones’ 2011/15 and the fictional Sir Henry Carlton in ‘Titanic: Blood And Steel’ 2012.
Despite his schedule he still found time to take in a couple of stage appearances at the Almeida in London, most notably as the reticent Harry in Edward Albee’s family drama, ‘A Delicate Balance’ in 2011. Another suitable role was his shady politico, Morgan Monroe, in five episodes of Allan Cubitt’s thriller ‘The Fall’, during 2013/14, before subsequent series rendered it wearisome.  In 2016 he co-starred as D.I. McKie in director Peter A. Dowling’s Irish produced,  Shetland set thriller, ‘Sacrifice’, in a cast that included Rupert Graves and Radha Mitchell. That year also saw him as Edward Butler, in RTE’s commissioned offering to the Easter Rising centenary, the five part mini-series, ‘Rebellion’, written by Colin Teevan and directed by Aku Louhimies.
Ian McElhinney arguably found more respectability on stage than screen, although in recent years he has worked towards correcting this imparity without the burden of ethnic casting, a necessary millstone in his early years, which offered steady employment, but more often than not proved difficult to discard.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
Theatre
– Victims(1981) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– The Accidental Death of an Anarchist(1982) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Callers(1985) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
– There Came a Gypsy Riding(2007) Almeida Theatre, London
– Antigone(2008) Waterfront Studio, Belfast
– The Home Place(2009) Grand Opera House, Belfast
– The Absence of Women(2010) Elmwood Hall, Belfast
– Through a Glass Darkly(2010) Almeida Theatre, London
– A Better Boy(2012) Belfast Barge
Film
 – The Grass Cutter(1990)
– The Boxer(1997)
– Divorcing Jack(1998)
– A Love Divided(1999)
– The Front Line(2006)
– City Of Ember(2008)
– A Shine of  Rainbows(2009)
– Swansong: The Story of Occi Byrne(2009)
– Triage(2009)
– A Patch of Fog(2015)
TV
– The Price(1985)
– Circle of Deceit(1993)
– Hearts and Minds(1995)
– Hornblower(1998)
– Queer as Folk(1999)
– No Tears(2002)
– The Tudors(2007)
– Clay(2008)
– Little Dorrit(2008)
– Scapegoat(2009)
– New Tricks(2010)
– Wodehouse in Exile(2013)
– Ripper Street(2013/16)
– Moonfleet(2013)
– Babylon(2014)

Barry McEvoy

 

Born Belfast 11th July 1967

Spirited and sedulous actor/writer with a stop start career path, who began his professional life with the Scena Theatre Company in Washington D.C. in the late eighties.
He arrived in New York in 1991 and unsurprisingly struggled to find any level of stage work until successfully auditioning for a mid-casting role in writer Judy GeBauer’s somewhat contrived ‘Bobby Sands M.P.’, at the city’s Irish Arts Centre in 1992.
A leading role as Public Gar in Brian Friel’s ‘Philadelphia Here I Come’, a Milwaukee Irish Arts Festival production at the Vogel Hall in 1993, also hinted as endorsing him, unwittingly maybe, as a nailed-on Irish player.
He did manage to lose this tag in his film debut, writer/director Ronald F.Maxwell’s U.S. civil war drama ‘Gettysburg’, in which he had little to do as 2nd Maine soldier.
A year later he continued his metamorphosis, playing a central character, revolutionary Tom Valiunus, in Wendy Wasserstein’s ‘The Sisters Rosensweig’, a high value production at the Lincoln Centre, New York.
His stage profile took a major leap forward with two Broadway appearances in 1995. He was Joey Doyle in director Adrian Hall’s adaptation of Budd Schulberg’s modern American classic, ‘On the Waterfront’ at the Brooks Atkinson’s Theatre and Fred in Harold Pinter’s ‘Moonlight’ for the Roundabout Theatre Company, presented at the Off-Broadway Laura Pels Theatre, in a cast headed by stage/screen titan Jason Robards.
However it was back to New York fringe theatre and the East Village, to work with Circle Rep and the Classic Stage Company for whom he appeared as Frank, Archie Rice’s son, in a lively 1996 production of John Osborne’s ‘The Entertainer’.
He made his television entrance as Dunn, in the ancient Irish themed series ‘Roar’ 1997, which featured recently arrived Australian soap star Heath Ledger as the hero Prince, Conor.
In 2000, following a minor role in Sidney Lumet’s remake of John Cassavetes’ 1980 emotion charged crime drama ‘Gloria’, released in 1999, he saw his own project, a darkly comical slant on the reminiscences of his barber and toupee salesman father, in sixties/seventies Ulster, entitled ‘An Everlasting Piece’, finally reach the screen.
Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks Studios bought the distribution rights and the garden looked positively rosy. Favourable notices on it’s release confirmed the feel-good factor but inexplicably it suddenly suffered from a lack of support from Dreamworks and subsequently lost the Irish American box- office potential.
The director Barry Levinson and producer Jerome O’Connor brought an action against Spielberg’s studio, alas to no avail and McEvoy, stuck in the middle of the wrangle, saw his opportunity of a U.S. breakthrough disappear.
The only immediate reward for his efforts was a television guest starring role in Sidney Lumet’s courtroom drama series, ‘100 Centre Street’ in 2001.
For the next three years he battled without success to land a significant screen contract, surviving on scrap parts in films such as ‘Gods and Generals’, an adaptation of Jeffrey Shaara’s U.S. civil war epic and perceived prequel to ‘Gettysburg’ and director Joel Schumacher’s acclaimed, award winning ‘Veronica Guerin’, both 2003.
On stage at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2004, he took a role sympathetic to his roots when he appeared as Charlie Conlon in Marie Jones’ internationally successful comedy two -hander, ‘Stones In His Pockets’, executing his multi character repertoire with aplomb.
In the six year period since his ephemeral sighting in ‘Veronica Guerin’, Barry McGovern has found life, on screen at least, despairingly bleak and has yielded just two inconsiderable film parts.
His involvement in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’ in 2006 and as James Nesbitt’s chauffeur in ‘Five Minutes of Heaven’ 2009, was peripheral, but he did land a recurring role as Chorley, in eleven episodes of Guido de Angelis’ blockbuster television series Titanic: Blood and Steel ‘ in 2012. However this was a world away it seems, from what might have been, had a proper throw of the dice prevailed in 2000.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
Theatre
– 900 Oneonta(1996) Circle Rep, New York
– The Shawshank Redemption(2009) Gaiety Theatre, Dublin
– The Weir(2011) H Street Playhouse, Washington DC
Film
– Sax and Violins(1997)
– Small Fish, Small Pond(2013)
TV
– Dragnet(2004)
– Camelot(2011)

Stanley McGeagh

 

 

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:

Theatre

-Old Days(1981) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-Rookery Nook(1995) Mietta’s Theatre, Melbourne

-When We Are Married(1995) Mietta’s Theatre, Melbourne

TV

-Haunted(1967)

-The Spanish Farm(1968)

-Thicker Than Water(1969)

-Dixon of Dock Green(1968/69)

-Rules, Rules, Rules(1970)

-The Liver Birds(1972)

-Jason King(1972)

-Villains(1972)

-Churchill’s People(1975)

-Law&Order(1978)

-The Onedin Line(1978)

-Screen Two, Knockback(1985)

-Worst Best Friends(2002)

 

 

Sheila McGibbon

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 Katrine 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. In 1984 she made a low-key screen appearance in Anne Devlin’s emotionally charged drama ‘A Woman Calling’, a BBC television play, starring Tony Doyle. She followed this with an 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:

Theatre

-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.

TV

-God’s Frontiersmen(1988)

 

 

 

 

Niamh McGrady

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:

Theatre

-Building Site(2009) Arcola Theatre, London

TV

-Doctors(2009)

-Titanic: Blood and Steel (2012)

 

Aislin McGuckin

Born Fermanagh 1974
Sensitive and resourceful actor with a fine stage pedigree, who has flirted with leading lady status on a number of occasions since graduating from the Rose Bruford Drama College in Sidcup Kent in 1995. She wasted little time before making her stage debut as Dolly in the premiere of Sebastian Barry’s extraordinary ‘The Steward of Christendom’, presented at the Royal Court in March 1995 in a cast which featured a superlative performance by the late Donal McCann.
A modest role as Kathleen in Billy Roche’s Irish crime drama ‘Trojan Eddie’, marked her 1996 introduction to films and a year later she returned to the cast of ‘The Steward Of Christendom’, for the New York opening at the Off- Broadway Majestic Theatre, Brooklyn.
A concentrated period of screen work in 1998 provided only limited opportunities to impress, with three television appearances and a film role in writer/director Eugene Brady’s Irish melodrama ‘The Nephew’.
On television she found it more constricted, with a rash of minor credits, including her debut in the BBC mini-series adaptation of John McGahern’s award winning ‘Amongst Women’.
A stronger role on stage in the 1999 Almeida Theatre production of Edna O’Brien’s Irish family drama, ‘ Our Father ’, saw her play impressionable youngest daughter Emer to Stella McCusker’s virtuous mother Lil and Eleanor Methven as her sister Helen.
In 2000 she made the first of her several appearances with the RSC, taking the appropriate role of Lady Anne, with husband to be Aidan McArdle in the title role as ‘ Richard III ’, at the Swan Theatre in Stratford. Both she and Aidan McArdle were members of the RSC during a short tour to Ann Arbor, Michigan in March 2001, where at the Power Centre For The Performing Arts, she made appearances in all three parts of ‘ Henry VI ‘ and ‘ Richard III ‘. It was also at this time that she landed a contract with Yorkshire Television, when cast as Dr.Liz Merrick in the 1960’s set rural drama series ‘Heartbeat’, making regular appearances until her departure in 2004.
A short break from the Dales in 2002 brought her to London and the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn, where in Rhoda Koenig’s 17th Century Ireland parable, ‘The Clearing’, she produced arguably her best work to date, as the fiercely patriotic Madeleine Preston.
Screen work after ‘Heartbeat’ proved elusive and only a peripheral credit listing in director James Ivory’s 1930’s Shanghai set big screen drama, ‘The White Countess’ 2005, rescued her from total obscurity.
In a  welcome return to the RSC that year, she was comfortably cast as Olivia in director Michael Boyd’s contempory dress version of ‘Twelfth Night’, performed at the Theatre Royal Newcastle, duly confirming her mastery of tailor made classical roles.
Two years later in what was her first professional appearance on a Northern Irish stage, a surprising fact considering, she played Agnes Mundy in the Lyric’s 2007 production of Brian Friel’s evergreen ‘Dancing At Lughnasa’.
In 2009 she returned to Belfast and excelled as house-keeper Margaret O’Donnell in another Friel piece, the wonderfully discriminating, ‘The Home Place’, a Lyric/An Grianan production at the Grand Opera House, boasting a stellar cast, including Conleth Hill, Ian McElhinney and Lalor Roddy.
At the Greenwich Theatre, London in 2010, she was cast in the title role of director Elizabeth Freestone’s contemporary adaptation of John Webster’s Jacobean tragedy, ‘The Duchess Of Malfi’ and did not disappoint, creating both a carnal and self-assured heroine on the cusp of death. She was then a most inventive Goneril, rapacious eldest daughter of David Haig’s ‘King Lear’, in director Lucy Bailey’s sixties, gangland London set, production, performed at the Theatre Royal, Bath in 2013. In 2014/15 she took a recurring role as Lady of Leoch, Letitia MacKenzie, in Ronald D. Moore’s fantasy drama series ‘Highlander’.
Aislin McGuckin is one of the many first generation post- troubles actors, whose profile developed beyond the influence of ethnically created parameters, but who has demonstrated such roles would be perfectly manageable.
Other Theatre and TV credits:
Theatre
– Dial M for Murder(1999) West Yorkshire Playhouse
– Macbeth(2011) RSC, RST, Stratford
– The Homecoming(2011) Swan Theatre, Stratford
– A Month in the Country(2015) Gate Theatre, Dublin
TV
– The Unknown Soldiers(1998)
– The Creatives(1998)
– David Copperfield(1999)
– Holby City(2008/09)
– New Tricks(2012)

Siobhan McKenna

Born Belfast 24th May 1923
Died Dublin 16th November 1986
Incomparable stage actor, quintessential Joan of Arc and champion of Irish language theatre, who whilst still at UCG made her debut in Will Evans’ comedy ‘Tons of Money’ at the Taidhbhearc Galway in 1940 and where for the next three years, she appeared in a series of plays translated to the Irish.
She marked her 1943 arrival at the Abbey with a confident performance in the title role of WB Yeats’ rarely produced,’ The Countess Kathleen’ and in 1944 played opposite her future husband Denis O’Dea, then an Abbey stalwart, in Ralph Kennedy’s melodrama ‘The Railway House’.
Other notable Abbey appearances during 1945/46 included Brinsley MacNamara’s ‘Rossa’, Roger McHugh’s Marks and Mabel’ both 1945 and Walter Macken’s ‘Mungo’s Mansion’ 1946.
1947 saw her London stage debut as Nora Fintry, in the Embassy Theatre production of Paul Vincent Carroll’s ‘The White Steed’ and the same year in her first film appearance, played Kate Donovan in director Brian Desmond Hurst’s bland Irish set drama, ‘Hungry Hill’.
Her next film, ‘Daughter of Darkness’ 1948 featured Larne born Maxwell Reed, whose own film career, not yet three years old, was already shipping water.
She worked with Reed again in 1949, in the aptly named ‘The Lost People’ and the same year needed no encouragement to return to the stage as Helen Pettigrew in John L.Balderston’s ‘Berkeley Square at the Duchess Theatre, London. Dividing her time between Ireland and England, she established her versatility with a string of critically acclaimed performances in a wide variety of subject matter, such as her Irish language version of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Saint Joan’ at the Taibhdhearc in Galway in December 1950. She brought the play to the Gaiety, Dublin in January 1951 and a few years later, at the request of Micheal Mac Liammoir, the production was staged in English, for a one-off performance, at the Gate Theatre, Dublin in November 1954. The role thus became her raison d’etre during the fifties and ticket to international recognition.
Her Lauriston Hall appearance as Pegeen Mike, during the 1951 Edinburgh festival in ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, was a joy to behold and for the next four years, with the exception of a co-starring role in director David MacDonald’s tepid South African set, ‘The Adventurers’ in 1951, she devoted herself to theatre.
 That same year she joined the RSC at the Memorial Theatre in Stratford for a short season, appearing most notably in the title role of ‘Heloise’ and as Celia in ‘As You Like It’.
Back at the Abbey in early 1954 she continued her union with the character of Joan of Arc,  appearing later that year in ‘Saint Joan’ at the  Arts Theatre, London, then transferring to St Martin’s in 1955, featuring on both occasions, an inspired Kenneth Williams as the Dauphin.
McKenna was now accepted as an authentic voice of the saintly French heroine, despite the difference in age, a fact met with little or no dissent and both she and Williams would reprise their roles in the 1958 television play ‘Saint Joan’.
In late 1955 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre she made her Broadway debut as Miss Madrigal in Edith Bagnold’s ‘The Chalk Garden’, receiving the first of her two Tony award nominations and returned to New York for a triumphant run as her alter ego ‘Saint Joan’, a  Phoenix Theatre production in 1956.
The following year in New York, she gave another marvellous Tony nominated performance, in director Peter Hall’s ‘The Rope Dancers’ at the Cort Theatre and in 1960 was busy in two television plays, as Dona Ana in ‘Don Juan In Hell’ and in a repeat of her 1957 Broadway role, played  Margaret Hyland, in a somewhat diluted small screen version of ‘The Rope Dancers’.
At the Wilbur Theatre in Boston at the beginning of the sixties, she played against type as Isobel, in Jean-Claude Van Itallie’s ‘Motel’ 1960 and the same year, apparently inexhaustible, undertook a European tour as Pegeen Mike in ‘The Playboy of the Western World’.
 At the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1961 she opened a new chapter in her St Joan journey, transporting the iconic warrior from 15th century France to 20th century Chicago, in Bertolt Brecht’s imaginative ‘St Joan of the Stockyards’.
In her first film role for ten years, director Nicholas Ray confidently cast her as the Virgin Mary in his 1961 epic ‘King of Kings’, with an overtly photogenic Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus Christ and a more believable Robert Ryan as John the Baptist.
A year later Brian Desmond Hurst who introduced her to the big screen in ‘Hungry Hill’ 1947, looked no further for a tried and tested Pegeen Mike when casting for his 1962 small budget, independently produced film version of ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ but at thirty nine years old she was probably a little longer in the tooth than Synge intended.
During the sixties her film credits were few and amounted to a co-starring role in the limp remake of the Bette Davis classic, ‘Of Human Bondage’ 1964 and a fugacious but effective appearance as Anna Gromenko in David Lean’s 1965 colossus ‘Doctor Zhivago’.
However she was still producing her best work on stage and in 1965 appeared at the Strand Theatre, London as Marie-Jeanne, in Jean Anouilh’s ‘The Cavern’ and at the Abbey in 1967 was a remarkably plaintive Cass, in Brian Friel’s ‘The Loves of Cass Maguire’.
The following year, again at the Abbey, she played Madame Renevskaya in Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’ and in 1969 at St Martins in London, shared top billing with Margaret Lockwood in John Kerr’s ‘On a Foggy Day’.
At the Strand in 1970 she fought a losing battle in the company of Nigel Patrick in the lukewarm comedy ‘Best of Friends’, proving if nothing else, that sometimes even talent is just not enough.
In 1973 her role of Juno in the Mermaid Theatre’s production of ‘Juno and the Paycock’ was given added poignancy, when due to the sudden death of Sean Kenny, she also assumed directing responsibilities, emerging from both roles with deserved applause.
Her last great stage offensive took place during the mid to late seventies and saw her appear in a broad swathe of productions, including her own one woman presentation at Dublin’s Gate Theatre in 1975, ‘Here Are Ladies’ and the role of Josie in Eugene O’Neill’s ‘A Moon for the Misbegotten’, at the same venue in 1976.
She travelled to Canada and the Guelph Festival in 1977 to play Sarah Bernhardt in John Murrell’s ‘Memoir’, later transferring to the Olympia Dublin and the same  took the role of Jocasta, in a striking  production of ‘Sons of Oedipus’ at the Greenwich Festival in London.
 Selective screen work in the early eighties included roles such as Mrs Tancred in an award winning television adaptation of ‘Juno And The Paycock’ 1980 and Fortunata in director Peter R. Hunt’s 1984 mini-series, ‘The Last Days of Pompeii’.
Her last stage appearance before her death was in Tom Murphy’s ‘Bailegangaire’, which premiered at the Druid Theatre Galway in May 1986, where during it’s momentous run, she gave a breathtaking performance as the controlling Mommo, and justly proved a fitting farewell for the gifted McKenna, whose stage brilliance more than compensated for a reluctant screen career.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
Theatre
– Fading Mansion(1951) Embassy Theatre, London
– Macbeth(1952) Memorial Theatre, Stratford
– I’m Getting Out of This Kip(1972) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
– The Plough and the Stars(1976) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
Film
– Philadelphia Here I Come(1975)
– Memed the Hawk(1984)
TV
– Tales of the Unexpected(1979)
– The Journal of Bridget Hitler(1981)

Robert B.(Bob)McKenzie

 

Born Ballymena 22nd September 1880

Died Manunuck, Rhode Island 8th July 1948
Extraordinary and unashamed screenaholic, whose long and varied bit- part career at one stage reached such a concentrated level, that he was literally walking from one film set to another, during a crazy production overload in the thirties.
Already making his living on the East Coast vaudeville circuit in the early years of the twentieth century, he proved a natural for the emerging, frenetic world of moving pictures.
His debut, a walk-on part in director Roy Clements’ comedy short, ‘How Slippery Sam Saw the Show’ 1915, in which he appeared with his wife Eva, was the first of some forty films he made over a two year period for Gilbert Anderson’s Essanay Film Manufacturing Company based in Niles, California.
Anderson, aka ‘Broncho Billy’, gave the diminutive and portly McKenzie many opportunities to develop his screen persona, particularly in the popular series of comedy westerns, bearing his definitive cowboy alias.
One such storyline, ‘Broncho Billy and The Posse’ 1915, featured McKenzie’s three young daughters, Ella, Ida Mae and Fay, all of whom were to make their mark during the silent era, with Fay especially, a prominent face in B Westerns during the Thirties and Forties.
A change of employer in 1917 saw him move to Henry Lehrman’s L-Ko Kompany, where in a change from the comedy western format trotted out at Essanay, he appeared in a dozen or so airy comedies until his lowly casting in Charlie Chaplin’s more superior ‘Shoulder Arms’ 1918 elevated him imperceptibly to the next level.
Following two films for Universal in 1920, he co-wrote with his wife, directed and co-starred in ‘Knight of the West’ 1921 and was writer/director in another WBM Photoplays production ‘Fightin’ Devil’ 1922.
His versatility brought him extra revenue, working on over two dozen storylines from 1924 until his final silent film appearance in ‘The White Outlaw’ 1929, for which he also took the writing credit, an aspect of his career which unfortunately ended at this point.
His introduction to sound films was as a lawyer in director Louis King’s western ‘Shadow Ranch’ 1930, a run of the mill Buck Jones vehicle, which was totally eclipsed by RKO’s oscar winning ‘Cimarron’ 1931, director Wesley Ruggles big budget western epic which saw McKenzie, although hopelessly lost in the credit list, take another small step forward.
He worked for Wesley Ruggles again in his 1933 comedy ‘Im No Angel’, starring Queen of camp and wisecracks, Mae West and a young and urbane English actor called Cary Grant.
Now well into his fifties, any chance of stardom seemed impossible but he persevered with his trusty bit-part work ethic which he pursued at break-neck pace throughout the thirties.
In an unbelievable seven year period from 1933, he amassed an incredible one hundred and forty plus appearances in as wide a variety of subjects as Hollywood could produce.
Notable in this list were co-starring roles in director Robert F.Hill’s crime drama ‘Inside Information’ 1934, an Alan James western ‘Lucky Terror’ starring Hoot Gibson 1936 and two lesser comedy roles, Buster Keaton’s ‘Hayseed Romance’ and Will Rogers’ ‘Life Begins at Forty’ both 1935.
Others worthy of mention included Woody Van Dyke’s academy award winning ‘San Francisco’ 1936, with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, Frank Lloyd’s excellent western ‘Wells Fargo’ 1937 starring Joel McCrea and a Robert Z. Leonard musical ‘The Girl of the Golden West’ 1938, featuring Hollywood’s then golden couple Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.
At the end of the thirties he was working alongside such luminaries as Roy Rogers, Lucille Ball and John Wayne, with whom he appeared in director William A.Seiter’s well received colonial saga ‘Allegheny Uprising’ 1939.
Director George Marshall used his comedy western qualities, albeit in a minor capacity, in his admirable ‘Destry Rides Again’ 1939, exacting matchless performances from leading actors Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart.
In the early forties he made subsidiary contributions to a number of memorable films, such as the Mae West/ WC.Fields classic ‘My Little Chickadee’, Hal Roach’s last film with Laurel and Hardy, ‘Saps at Sea’ and Fritz Lang’s sequel to ‘Jesse James’, ‘The Return of Frank James’, all 1940.
Director Ray Enright’s tough western ‘The Spoilers’ 1942, boasting a strong cast including Marlene Dietrich, John Wayne and Randolph Scott and a Harry Langdon comedy ‘Here Comes Mr Zerk’ 1943, were other better quality projects during what was for him, a busy but predictably unstarry period.
William A.Seiter’s naval war drama ‘Destroyer’ 1943, preceded a run of forgettable fare, but saw him work with top celebrities such as William Boyd, aka Hopalong Cassidy in ‘Texas Masquerade’ and The Three Stooges in ‘The Yolks on Me’, both 1944.
 That same year he was reunited with Wayne again in ‘Tall in the Saddle’ and in his seemingly favourite genre, appeared in two Deanna Durbin musical westerns, ‘Harmony Trail’ and ‘Can’t Help Singing’.
Towards the end of his career, in a not too surprising slowdown of projects, he managed a couple of decent cameos, appearing as a manager in Robert Siodmak’s undervalued film noir, ‘The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry’ 1945 and in his last ever big screen role, played bartender Zeke in King Vidor’s controversial western, ‘Duel In The Sun’ 1946.
Robert McKenzie without question had a more extensive CV than any other British born actor in cinematic history and was at least equal to the handful of his American contemporaries in the helter skelter that prevailed in the infancy of silent film.
Other Credits:
Film
– The Sign of the Cucumber(1917)
– Bullet Proof(1920)
– The Devil’s Dooryard(1923)
– One Glorious Scrap(1927)
– Tillie and Gus(1933)
– Man From Guntown(1935)
– Death of a Champion(1939)
– Citadel of Crime(1941)
– Three of a Kind(1944)

Liam McMahon

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:

Theatre

-Carnival(2008) Custom’s House Square, Belfast

-La Musica Deuxieme(2010) Unicorn Theatre, London

-A Midsummer Night’s Dream(2013) Tour

Take Down(2015)

TV

-Northanger Abbey(2007)

-The Tudors(2008/09)

-Maru(2010)

-Without You(2011)

-The Borgias(2013)

-The Fall(2014)

Ciaran McMenamin

Born Enniskillen 1st October 1975
Assiduous and unabashed screen and occasional stage actor, who at age fifteen was a member of his local Ardhowen Youth Theatre before joining the Ulster Youth Theatre in the early nineties.
After completing a B.A.course at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, he made his first professional stage appearance as Robert Abraham-Rhymer, in the Tinderbox production of Joseph Crilly’s ‘Second Hand Thunder’, at the Playhouse Derry in 1998.
That same year he was fortunate to find screen work, most notably in his film debut as Dino, the medical student/IRA volunteer in director Roger Michell’s early seventies, West Belfast set ‘Titanic Town’, starring Julie Walters and Ciaran Hinds.
His earliest television appearances were in an episode of the comedy ‘Rab C.Nesbitt’ and a central role as lead singer Jez MacAllister in Bryan Elsley’s musical comedy series, ‘The Young Persons Guide to Becoming a Rock Star’, marking 1998 a bumper year for a novice actor fresh from drama school. His London stage experience began with a summer school at the Royal Court in 1999, making his legitimate bow that year as Mario, in Edoardo Erba’s ‘Marathon’ at the Gate, Notting Hill and on television was a little constricted in his role as the adult David Copperfield but was more credible with his big screen effort, taking the starring role in writer/director Elliot Hegarty’s Irish in London comedy ‘County Kilburn’ 2000.
In 2002 he came to the notice of local television audiences as Johnny Doherty, in RTE’s Dublin set, thirty something mini-series, ‘Anytime Now’, which saw Ulster born actors in four of the five starring roles.
He was back north of the border in 2004 and looked more comfortable in the role of Ta, one of a group of West Belfast chancers in the black comedy series ‘Pulling Moves’, which surprisingly ran for just one season.
Before familiarity could breed contempt, he changed ethos and accent in two national television series in 2005, playing Dr Paul Kane in ‘The Golden Hour’ and Det.Constable John Caldicott in ‘Jericho’, set in 1950s London, with Robert Lindsay in the title role.
He supplemented his meagre theatre output, appearing in a much lauded production of ‘The Soldiers Tale’ at the Old Vic in 2006, with his own performance highlighting the improvidence of any enforced absence from the stage.
 On the small screen the following year he was counsellor and sexual predator, Bryce Waghorn, in writer Debbie Horsfield’s mystery drama  series ‘True Dare Kiss’. He proved a trifle unconvincing though, as religious cult leader Daniel Hughes in Oliver Brown’s murder fest, ‘Messiah: The Rapture’, filmed in Belfast and televised in 2007.
In what was an uneventful period during 2009, he made just two television appearances, with his role as Quincey in the one season mini-series ‘Demons’, marginally the more significant.
In 2010, director Colm McCarthy cast him as Liam, one of two avenging travellers, in his big screen supernatural thriller, ‘Outcast’, which also featured James Nesbitt as the principle partner in crime, the positively deranged Cathal. In 2011 he took the role of zoologist and team leader Matt Anderson, in the science fiction series ‘Primeval’ and following a small part in director Anthony Hemingway’s big screen,WW2 drama ‘Red Tails’, he landed a more prominent credit in RTE’s docudrama, ‘Saving The Titanic’, both 2012.
He took prominent roles in two Northern Irish produced films in 2012, playing gang member Ross, in writer/director Kieron J. Walsh’s Derry set crime thriller, ‘Jump’ and novelist, Jack Kelly in Paul Kennedy’s sketchy drama, ‘Made in Belfast’. He was also busy on stage during this time, appearing as Alcibiades in Nicholas Hytner’s ‘Timon of Athens’ on the National Theatre’s Olivier stage in 2012. A year later at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, he played Edmund, in another Shakespeare production, the Selina Cartmell directed ‘King Lear’, the first staging of the play at the Abbey in a virtual lifetime.
In 2016 he had  a median role in writer David Harrower’s film drama ‘Una’, based on his 2005 one -act play, ‘Blackbird’ and undertook an Irish tour that year as John the chauffeur, in Patrick Marber’s ‘After Miss Julie’, a reworking of Strinberg’s late 19th century, self-styled naturalist tragedy, ‘Miss Julie’.
Ciaran McMenamin is one of the first post troubles new wave of Northern Irish actors, who has been fortunate to have avoided the imposed typecasting experienced by many of his predecessors, which in retrospect was responsible for creating a quasi genre with a modicum of artistic quality.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
Theatre
– Just Stopped By To See The Man(2000) Royal Court, London
Film  
– Bollywood Queen(2002)
– The Last Confession Of Alexander Pearce(2008)
– Shooting for Socrates(2015)
– In View(2016)
TV
– A Rap At The Door(1999)
– Sunday(2002)
– Water Melon(2003)
– Silent Witness(2004)
– Jonathan Creek(2009)
– 32 Brinkburn Street(2011)
– Young James Herriot(2011)
– Death in Paradise(2014)
– Rapt(2015)
– Midsomer Murders(2016)

Walter Mc Monagle

 

Born Belfast 1946

Diligent and unadorned character actor with a long stage history, who began working in English theatre in the late sixties following graduation from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1967. Before that however, he made an early appearance aged nineteen at the Circle Theatre, Belfast in Christopher Fry’s war drama ‘A Sleep of Prisoners’, staged in April 1965.
One of his first London stage roles was in 1969 at the Lyric Hammersmith, playing Captain Macmorris/Bishop of Ely in ‘Henry V’ and made his television debut that year as Patrick Brophy in an Armchair Theatre play, ‘The Brophy Story’.
During 1969/70 he toured with the Century Theatre Company, appearing in ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Breaking Point’ and at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry in 1970, showed his comic side in Kevin Laffan’s satirical sex comedy, ‘It’s a Two Foot Six Inches Above the Ground World’.
He spent the early seventies jobbing around repertory theatre in the south of England, which included a period at the Richmond Theatre in 1972 in plays such as ‘Just Before Dawn’ and was back home at the Lyric Belfast that year as Sammy, in Wilson John Haire’s sixties Belfast drama, ‘Within Two Shadows’.
Further stage work at this time included the roles of Ham in Andre Obey’s ‘Noah’, at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in 1973, Valentine in Peter Gill’s RSC production of ‘Twelfth Night’ at the RST,Stratford in 1974 and made his first prestigious West End appearance as Balthasar, in director Denise Coffey’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at the Young Vic in 1977.
His attempts to establish a credible screen persona were proving extremely difficult and only miniscule roles in the sci-fi series ‘Space 1999’ in 1977 and ‘The Professionals’ 1979, saved him from a complete blackout.
In the early eighties he fared a little better, appearing in episodes of the police drama series ‘Juliet Bravo’ 1980, the hospital soap ‘Angels’ 1981 and took the role of Stevie, in the first of the ‘Billy’ plays, ‘Too Late to Talk to Billy’ 1982.
His film debut in 1982 was less than stimulating, listed in the nether regions of the credit list as Dawson, in Edward Bennett’s 1920s set ‘Ascendancy’ and the same year appeared with the Hull Truck Theatre Touring Company, in Peter Sheridan’s ‘Diary of a Hunger Striker’, at the Roundhouse in London.
Other screen work in the eighties included Peter Sasdy’s family comedy, ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4’ 1985, a trifling part in the Liam Neeson vehicle ‘Lamb’ 1986 and on television that year was wasted as the incidental Irishman in the building site comedy series, ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet’.
His television roles in the late eighties were nothing short of functional and amounted to low key parts in the mini-series ‘Lost Empires’ 1986 and a cameo as Bootlace, in Graham Reid’s comedy series ‘Foreign Bodies’, which ran from 1987/89.
The classical roles which inspired his early stage career, had by the nineties virtually disappeared, he had however developed into a multi faceted character player, with appearances such as his scene stealing Shawney in Ron Hutchinson’s ‘Pygmies in the Ruins’ at the Lyric Theatre Belfast in 1991.
 Minor roles in two television productions in 1990, saw him playing a transport officer in writer Michael Eaton’s docudrama ‘Shoot to Kill’ and an RUC inspector in the political thriller ‘A Casualty of War’, starring David Threlfall and Amanda Burton.
In 1993 at the Tricycle Theatre Kilburn, he had dual roles as both priest and minister in Bill Morrison’s through the ages drama, ‘A Love Song for Ulster’ and at the Old Museum Arts Centre Belfast in 1995, played the evil Dr Miranda in the Irish premiere of Ariel Dorfman’s enthralling drama ‘Death And The Maiden’, which featured a striking performance by Michelle Fairley as chief protagonist  Paulina Salas.
In another Bill Morrison play, ‘Drive On’ at the Lyric in 1996, he was efficiently adept as Mac, supported by a strong local cast including Sean Caffrey and Flora Montgomery and in 1999, in only the third film appearance of his career, he was once again consigned to a bit part, in writer/director Dennis C. Lewiston’s ‘Shergar’, a none too convincing slant on the mystery kidnapping of the iconic racehorse.
Among his better stage work from 2000, were integral roles in the Lyric’s production of Ibsen’s ‘Ghosts’ in 2003 and the much praised 2004 touring production of ‘Philadelphia Here I Come’, the latter, under Adrian Dunbar’s direction afforded him the opportunity to elicit more than most from his character, the deferential father, Screwballs O’Donnell.
Screen parts in the new century were a rarity and six years after his brief sighting in ‘Shergar’, he took his now obligatory bit part, this time in writer Gwyneth Hughes’ true- life television drama ‘Cherished’ 2005. In 2010 he gave a master class in the art of stage articulation as the ethical shop steward Davy Mitchell, in a marvellous revival of Sam Thompson’s ground-breaking ‘Over the Bridge’, presented at the Waterfront Studio, Belfast and boasting an outstanding cast, including Lalor Roddy and Frankie McCafferty.
A skilful stage performer, Walter McMonagle was at the very least unlucky not to have secured a more successful screen career, which although protracted was bereft of any lasting significance.
Other Theatre and TV credits:
Theatre
– Afore Night Come(1974) RSC The Other Place, Stratford
– The Bewitched(1974) RSC Aldwych Theatre, London
– We Do It For Love(1976) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
– Smilin’ Through(1995) Birmingham Rep
– Loot(2000) Northcott Theatre, Exeter
– Shoot the Crow(2003) Royal Court, London
– Antigone(2008) Waterfront Studio,Belfast
TV
– Boon(1986)
– Beyond Reason(1995)

Joe McPartland

Born Belfast 29th October 1928
Died Belfast 8th April 1994
 
Facile and definitive stage actor, whose career was confined for the large part to Irish theatre. He arrived relatively late to professional acting, via amateur dramatics and international bowling, indeed he was proficient enough to represent Ireland in the World Bowling Championships in Sydney in 1966.
An early introduction to Belfast theatre saw him as O’Flaherty, the publican, in ‘The Heart’s A Wonder’, a 1962 musical version of ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, staged at the Lyric Theatre, then in Derryvolgie Avenue.
He worked sporadically in the mid to late sixties in suburban north Belfast theatres, with decent roles in Tennessee Williams’ ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ‘ 1966 and Brendan Behan’s ‘The Hostage’ 1968, both at the Circle Theatre. At the Grove Theatre in 1968, he took the title role in St. John Greer Ervine’s comedy ‘Boyd’s Shop’, presented as part of that years Belfast Festival at Queens and boosted by a strong cast of ex Group Theatre Players.
A minor role in an early Mike Leigh effort, ‘Blodwen, Home from Rachel’s Marriage’ in 1969, marked his television debut and the following year played Inspector Moore in his first film appearance, Alan Cook’s quasi sci-fi drama, ‘The Mind of Mr Soames’. Further work at the Lyric, now relocated to Ridgeway Street, Belfast, included ‘Lovers’, ‘The Plough and the Stars’ both 1970, ‘John Bull’s Other Island and ‘The King of the Castle’ both 1971.
Also that year he starred as Ted Johnstone, opposite Gerard McSorley, in a Limerick Theatre Festival  production of Lee Dunne’s drama ‘The Full Shilling’, which later transferred to the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin.
In 1975 he appeared in Ulick O’Connor’s ‘The Dark Lovers’ at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin, toured with the Irish Theatre Company in David French’s little seen drama ‘Leaving Home’ and back in Belfast in 1977, was in the cast of John Boyd’s ‘The Street’, which also featured Liam Neeson in his final season with the Lyric Players.
After a screen absence of several years, he re-emerged with a run of low- key roles which included the 1978 television drama ‘The Donegals’ and in 1979 had a cameo in the television adaptation of Ron Hutchinson’s eccentric comedy ‘The Last Window Cleaner’.
His second film appearance was in the troubles raging ‘The Outsider’ 1979, which despite it’s low budget ambience, attracted a respectable cast, including Niall Toibin, Elizabeth Begley and former Hollywood star Sterling Hayden.
During the early eighties he was a requisite member of both Belfast repertory companies, taking leading roles at the Lyric, in Eugene McCabe’s ‘Heritage’ 1980, Martin Lynch’s ‘Castles in the Air’ 1983, Brian Moore’s ‘Catholics’ and was an excellent Duncan in ‘Macbeth’ both 1985.
For the Ulster Actors Company at the Arts he was equally in demand, with praiseworthy performances in productions such as George Shiel’s ‘The Passing Day’ 1981, ‘Juno and the Paycock’ 1983 and played Tom Byers in Joseph Tomelty’s ‘All Souls Night’ 1984.
He found it difficult to match his theatre output with any substantial screen work and only subsidiary credits in two films, writer/director Edward Bennett’s ‘Ascendancy’ 1982 and the independent film ‘Attracta’ 1983, maintained his casual interest in the medium.
In a break form his Belfast theatre duties, he took important roles, first in the National’s production of ‘The Murderers’ at the Cottesloe in 1985 and in Joe Orton’s ‘Loot’ at the Druid in Galway in 1986.
Two short lived television comedy series in the mid to late eighties, the unfortunately dull boarding house romp ‘Constant Hot Water’ 1986,starring Pat Phoenix and the Graham Reid/ Bernard Farrell collaboration, ‘Foreign Bodies’ 1987, failed to breathe any new life into his spasmodic screen career.
Back on safer ground and working surprisingly for the first time on the Group stage, he was outstanding as the the older Rinty, in Martin Lynch’s ‘Rinty’ 1990, based on the life and times of legendary Belfast boxer, Rinty Monaghan.
He made two further television appearances during 1993/94, ‘Sailortown’, an ITV Comedy Playhouse production in 1993, starring James Nesbitt and writer John Forte’s whimsical piece ‘Henri’ 1994.
His final film role was minor, playing down and out Charlie Burke, in Jim Sheridan’s acclaimed ‘In the Name of the Father’ 1993, adapted from Gerry Conlon’s autobiographical account of his wrongful incarceration and subsequent prison death of his father Guiseppe.
Joe McPartland was an adept character player who was never offered anything of significance on screen but whose considerable stage portfolio gave a more balanced appraisal of  his work.
Other Theatre and TV credits:
Theatre
– The Flats(1971) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– The Farm(1972) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– A Moon for the Misbegotten(1976) Gate Theatre, Dublin
– Shadow Of A Gunman(1983) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
TV
– Cancer(1973)
– Eh Brian! It’s a Whopper(1984)
– Ties of the Blood(1985)

Gerard McSorley

 

Born Omagh 1950

Assertive multi purpose actor, who emerged aged twenty and still a QUB student, at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast in a revival of Sam Thompson’s classic ‘Over the Bridge’ in 1970.
He made his first full professional bow as Edward Johnstone in Lee Dunne’s Limerick Theatre Festival play, ‘The Full Shilling’ in 1971 and in his first major Dublin stage role, played Jean Louis in Micheal Macliammoir’s Paris set melodrama, ‘Prelude in Kazbek Street’ at the Gate Theatre in 1973.
Noteworthy work in the remainder of the seventies included an Irish Theatre Company tour with Dion Boucicault’s ‘Out of Town’ and Moliere’s ‘The Miser’ in 1975, a first collaboration with Jim Sheridan in ‘Dev’ at the Project Arts, Dublin in 1977 and his television debut as Martin Gallagher in ‘SOS Titanic’ 1979.
In 1981 he became a fully fledged Abbey Player and made his first appearance with the famed company as Rafferty in William Trevor’s ‘Scenes from an Album’ and followed this the same year with a small role in Neil Donnelly’s drama ‘The Silver Dollar Boys’.
His 1982 big screen baptism was particularly low key, playing a shop assistant in Neil Jordan’s much praised ‘Angel’, starring Stephen Rea and found himself working with Rea again in Field Day’s production of Brian Friel’s ‘The Communication Cord’, presented at the Guildhall Derry in the autumn of 1982.
His theatre output during this period was confined to the Abbey and included frontline roles in ‘Yeukface the Yeuk and The Spotty Grousler’ 1982, ‘Don Juan’ and ‘The Luqna Quilla Gorilla’, both 1983.
One of his very few Ulster theatre appearances was in the central role of Henry Joy McCracken in the Lyric’s memorable 1984 production of Stewart Parker’s ‘Northern Star’, in a cast which also featured John Hewitt, Mark Mulholland and Marcella Riordan as his sister Mary-Anne.
Apart from a small television role in director Lawrence Gordon Clark’s IRA revenge thriller, ‘Act of Betrayal’ and a similarly innocuous part in the tepid Pierce Brosnan vehicle ‘Taffin’, both 1988, he was more than grateful to find steadier work on stage. This included a season with the Abbey that year in Sebastian Barry’s ‘Boss Grady’s Boys’ and two Frank McGuinness plays, ‘Carthaginians’ and ‘Flesh and Blood’.
A hallmark Abbey appearance in 1990 saw him as narrator Michael Mundy, in the premiere of Brian Friel’s worldwide hit ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’, which transferred to the Plymouth Theatre on Broadway the following year and a few years later, retained his role in director Pat O’Connor’s equally successful film adaptation in 1998.
His luck changed dramatically from 1993, when an also-starring role as Detective Pavis in Jim Sheridan’s emotive ‘In The Name of the Father’, became a springboard for a rush of screen offers, which included several big budget projects such as Mel Gibson’s ‘Braveheart 1995, Neil Jordan’s ‘Michael Collins’ 1996 and ‘Angela’s Ashes’ 1999.
In 2002 he played Chief Supt Lagan in writer/director Paul Greengrass’ multi- award winning film ‘Bloody Sunday’ and a year later was frighteningly believable as Dublin arch criminal John Gilligan, in Joel Schumacher’s acclaimed biopic, ‘Veronica Guerin’.
 He completed the factual trilogy in 2004, playing with great sensitivity, bereaved father Michael Gallagher in the docu- style television drama ‘Omagh’, dealing with the aftermath of the terrorist bomb attack on McSorley’s own home town in 1998.
He returned to the Abbey stage in 2004, as South Armagh republican patriarch, Joe, in Stuart Carolan’s debut play ‘Defender of the Faith’ and in 2005, at the other end of the social spectrum, played Sir Kenneth Curtiss in the big screen adaptation of John Le Carre’s ‘The Constant Gardener’.
In 2006 he appeared in two Irish produced films, writer Daragh Carville’s uneasy and dark ‘Middletown’ and writer/director David Gleason’s Dublin set thriller, ‘The Front Line’ and a year later he took an also- starring role in Aisling Walsh’s best forgotten, Irish produced mini- series ‘Damage’.
He was more fortunate as Detective Lynch in writer Anthony Fox’s troubles torn,’ Trapped’ in 2008 and the following year took an also- starring role in Conor McDermottroe’s Sligo set, social drama, ‘Swansong: Story of Occi Byrne’, starring Belfast born Marty McCann. In Steven Spielberg’s film exposition of Michael Morpurgo’s children’s classic, ‘War Horse’, released in 2011, he was cast in the small, but conspicuous role of the market auctioneer.
Gerard McSorley has imperturbably evolved into an outstanding character actor, who has effortlessly made the transition from stage to screen and who has rarely disappointed in either medium.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
Theatre
– The Liberty Suit(1977) Olympia Theatre, Dublin
– Cop Out(1980) Eblana Theatre, Dublin
– Flesh and Blood-Times in It(1988) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
– The Shaughraun(1990) Abbey Theatre, Dublin
– Phaedra(1996) Gate Theatre, Dublin
– Dancing at Lughnasa(2007) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Philadelphia Here I Come(2010) Gaiety Theatre, Dublin
Film
– Words Upon the Window Pane(1994)
– Widows Peak(1994)
– Moondance(1995)
– Nothing Personal(1995)
– The Butcher Boy(1997)
– Felicia’s Journey(1997)
– The Departed(2006)
– Robin Hood(2010)
– In View(2016)
– Lift(2016)
TV
– Easter 2016(1982)
– Kidnapped(1995)
– The Hanging Gale(1995)
– Vicious Circle(1999)
– The Tudors(2009)