Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Get your motor running for the Lyric’s latest production

Next week sees the opening of the Lyric's first production since it lost its home. While work continues in Belfast's Ridgeway Street on the building of a new theatre, the Lyric Players will be on the move with a new touring production that opens first at the Queen's Drama Studio.

And it's exciting to see that artistic director Michael Diskin has chosen to stage the Irish premiere of a contemporary drama, written by a local woman, for the theatre's first off-site production.

Pumpgirl, by Newry playwright Abbie Spallen, won critical acclaim when it played in New York, London and Edinburgh. Set in a South Armagh petrol station, Pumpgirl brings together a team of new and experienced actors to tell the story of a young girl who works in the local garage and sets her sights on the village heart-throb.

Samantha Heaney, a 22-year-old from Newry, will play the title girl, with Stuart Graham and Maggie Hayes performing alongside her.

The forecourt opens on Monday in Belfast, and Pumpgirl will be on stage nightly until September 20 before taking to the road.

And staying with the Lyric, the Lyric Drama Studio is offering young actors a chance to improve on their theatrical skills.

If you're aged 18-22, have always wanted to act and have the talent to make it happen, the Drama Studio is the place for you to realise your dreams.

Up for grabs is a six-month programme of weekly workshops and masterclasses, involving the best of local and visiting theatre talent.

There's an intense rehearsal period next Easter, culminating in a final public performance.

And, best of all, it's completely free to those who are selected from the auditions.

If you're interested in the scheme, you'd better be quick – auditions take place tomorrow. There are two stages to these; those shortlisted following a group workshop in the morning will be given an individual audition slot later in the day. You should select and prepare one monologue (speech delivered by a single character) of 2-3 minutes in length from a play of your choice. Final places are strictly limited to 20.

Director of the Lyric Drama Studio, Jonathan Harden said: “I need a company of highly committed, talented actors. With the right team, we can make great things happen. This is the beginning of something very significant and I'm excited at the prospect of what lies ahead”.

Open Auditions begin tomorrow at 10am. For more information, email dramastudio@lyrictheatre.co.uk

And the chance of a place on that course isn't the only thrill on offer in Belfast next week. On Monday, the Grand Opera House is the venue for a spectacular concert celebrating one of the world's greatest entertainers.

Thriller features a West End cast of performers paying tribute to Michael Jackson, and includes hits like I Want You Back, I'll Be There, Billie Jean and Beat It. Moonwalking guaranteed.

Elsewhere, theatres are preparing for the start of the autumn season. Burnavon Arts Centre has launched its new programme, which promises a handful of Irish classics, when Juno and the Paycock visits the town, followed by Big Telly's production of short pieces by Synge and O'Casey. And there's local comedy on offer from playwright Carol Doey, when she returns with her box-office hit Don't Die Wunderin'.

In Coleraine, the Riverside Theatre is preparing for a new show by Scott Marshall. There'll be a rehearsed reading of the thriller The Martha Syndrome next Saturday, with Marie Jones in the lead role, and Dan Gordon in the director's chair. Now that's worth watching!

grania.mcfadden@ntlworld.com

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