Brendan adds musical magic to Friel classic

Brendan O'Regan with Jenny Cox who plays the part of Rose Mundy in Dancing at Lughnasa with Blue Teapot. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.
Brendan O'Regan with Jenny Cox who plays the part of Rose Mundy in Dancing at Lughnasa with Blue Teapot. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

“It’s great to be writing music for theatre again,” muses Brendan O’Regan, who is creating the score for a new production of Dancing at Lughnasa which will be staged at the Town Hall Theatre from Thursday May 24 to Saturday, May 26.

A composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Brendan has been a key figure in Irish music for some 35 years. In that time, the Mayo man and long-time Galway resident has performed with De Danann, Dolores Keane, Townes Van Zandt, Mary Black, John Prine, Nanci Griffith and the Waterboys among others.

He’s also in demand as a studio accompanist for many top-class Irish instrumentalists – including Gerry ‘Banjo’ O’Connor. Vinnie Kilduff and Máirtín O’Connor.

Brendan has also released two highly-acclaimed solo albums; 1992’s A Wind of Change and Samadhi: Slow Music for Guitar in 2000.

In the 1980s and 1990s, he worked with Druid Theatre composing scores for and performing in ground-breaking works such as At the Black Pig’s Dyke and for St Patrick’s Day, which featured Sabina Higgins, now Ireland’s First Lady. He has also composed for the Abbey Theatre and London’s Tricycle Theatre.

Now, after a long absence from theatre, he’s back working on Blue Teapot’s production of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa, where his original compositions will sit alongside the music that Friel has already written into the script – reels, swing and music by the Dorcy Brothers.

Dancing at Lughnasa is set in Donegal in August 1936 and centres on the five Mundy sisters who live together in an isolated rural area. It’s a memory play, narrated by Michael, the ‘illegitimate’ son of Christina, who recalls the ups and downs of their lives, the comings and goings of his father, Gerry, and the return of his uncle Jack, who had been a missionary priest in Africa and cannot readjust to life in Ireland.

“As a composer, you have to make everyone shine and work with the music that’s already there,” Brendan reflects.

He’s been working on the score since October, since Blue Teapot’s Artistic Director Petal Pilley and the company’s Producer Hillary Kavanagh, contacted him to see if he’d be interested in getting involved.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.