Two Strabane natives are on the verge of being ‘unstoppable’ when they take to the stage in a new variety show next month.
Bernadette Foley and Julian McIntyre are members of ‘Stage Beyond’ a Derry-based theatre company for adults with learning disabilities. Supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the group are gearing up to raise the roof with their variety show, ‘Unstoppable’ in Derry’s historic St Columb’s Hall on Saturday June 24. The multi award-winning ensemble are rising to the challenge in a thrilling theatrical showcase, inspired by the popular variety shows which the historic venue was renowned for hosting in the 1960s, attracting high profile performers including Roy Orbison, Ruby Murray, Val Doonican, Joseph Locke, and Frank Carson.
The group, founded in 2002, had previously put on, to great acclaim, a production of ‘The Great Dictator’ in The Playhouse.
Bernie Shiels, chair of Stage Beyond and a founding member, said the cast were eagerly looking forward to their eclectic performance which will feature a range of tableau scenes, choreography, Seamus Heaney poetry, comedy acts and much more.
“We have trained with a brilliant team of leading artists and facilitators over recent months to showcase the creative talents of our members, some of whom have just recently joined the company,” Bernie said. “The cabaret-style seating complete with candle lights will no doubt add an extra wow factor to both the performance space and overall audience experience.”
Dee Conaghan, artistic director of Stage Beyond added, “People with learning disabilities can often suffer from other people’s low expectations right from the moment they are born through to school and social settings. ‘Unstoppable’ is yet another empowering opportunity for Stage Beyond members to counteract those early experiences now best summed up in the well-known refrain, ‘Oh, if you could see me now!’
“Stage Beyond is all about our members participating fully in a cultural context and we are delighted to be working with some of Northern Ireland’s leading artists enabling members to take part in a variety of art forms which will all be showcased in Unstoppable.”
The performance takes place in St Columb’s Hall, Derry, on Saturday June 24 at 7.30pm. Limited tickets priced £15 are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org