Edinburgh Fringe 2011
A musical that tells the true story of the formation of the first gay-friendly rugby team in Northern Ireland with a Drag Queen as their manager is a fabulous basis for a fresh new musical.
When I read the blurb for this musical in the Fringe programme, and realised that this story was actually true, I was very excited. This story-line has all the potential to be a hit. Motivated by his desire to impress a hunky army medic, Terry (Luke Hier) inadvertently becomes the Team Captain of Northern Ireland’s first gay-friendly rugby team. Drag Queen Sophia (Dario Cacioppo and Randy Grab alternate the role), owner of the Kremlin, Belfast’s only gay bar, becomes the team manager, and by default, the bar becomes the team’s club house.
I was immediately impressed by the performance of Dario Cacioppo as Drag Queen Sophia. This character holds the story together, and has some genuinely funny lines throughout the piece. Cacioppo’s portrayal of the role – his acting, singing and dancing were all a delight to watch. Luke Hier in the role of Terry should also be commended.
The remainder of the young cast, however, were less strong. A lot of the musical numbers required a lot of extra work to make the choreography tight, and vocal projection issues were noticeable. Some of the direction also seemed ‘clunky’ – eg from the opening scene, a TV journalist and cameraman stayed on the stage, constantly shadowing the action. This became quite intrusive, often splitting the focus for the audience, as they created ‘business’ to justify their being in the scene.
Many of the musical numbers need work from a composition point of view, but there are a few good ones: “It’s all in the Name” and “Road to Dublin” being the most musically developed, with tunes and harmonies that were memorable. The voices, however, were mismatched, with some overpowering others, instead of presenting as a united company.
This musical has a lot of potential, and I feel that with the help of a good dramaturge to edit the script, and some solid work on tightening the music and choreography, this will go places. I certainly enjoyed the story-line, and if a re-worked version of this show returned to the festival in future years, I would definitely attend it again. Recommended.