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Baritone Karl is poised to seize that special Moment

By Eddie McIlwaine

Baritone Karl McGuckin reckons the odds will be a little more in his favour when he takes to the Grand Opera House stage with Belfast Operatic Company in the musical Jekyll and Hyde in April.

The Belfast-based singer had to summon up all of his might to deliver This Is The Moment, the show's big number, when he previewed the piece to a sold-out Ulster Hall audience at the group's Christmas concert in December.

That night Karl(left) held his own when ranged against the forces of the 70-strong Belfast Pops Orchestra, three times the number of musicians who will be in the theatre's pit for the next run, from April 4-8.

"It will be a lot easier to deliver the song without a huge symphony orchestra behind me," says Karl (30).

"This is one of the biggest roles I've undertaken. The director, Wilfie Pyper, has been working with me since last November to create the two sides to the character."

The show, based on Robert Louis Stevenson's famous tale, was written by American composer Frank Wildhorn.

Remembering Royal Navy’s finest

You can't have forgotten my story a while back about a little wren adopting me as her friend and greeting me every morning on the back doorstep after breakfast.

We've moved on since and my feathered acquaintance has actually pecked seed out of my hand on a couple of occasions. I wonder, when she chirps, if she is trying to tell me something.

However, my wren stays away when there are others around and is frightened of cameras.

What I wasn't aware of when I wrote the original piece was that 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the Royal Navy's Wrens, set up in 1917 during the First World War, so that women could become sailors.

Quite a coincidence, you must agree. Especially as, back in 1967, when I was trying to write a feature article on the 50th anniversary of the women's service, I was to meet a Wren in Belfast for an interview only for the get-together to be cancelled, probably because her ship had to sail.

All I can say now is that my feathered wren is an unexpected bonus - even though she never saw service as a sailor (so far as I know).

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