The Palace Players played four festivals last week in the space of 6 days and came away with wins in all four, ensuring they will defend their All-Ireland title on a date between April 28 and May 6 in Athlone.
Meanwhile, Noelle Clarke’s group Take 5, secured a place in the confined finals in Castleblaney on a date between April 15 and 23. Having just performed in Rossmore on Sunday night, news came through that they had won in Claremorris and this gave them a total of three wins to see them safely through with ‘Children Of A Lesser God’.
What a hectic and strenuous week it has been for The Palace Players, but at the end of it all, a most rewarding one. Starting in Charleville on Monday night, they then travelled to West Cork (Rossmore) on Thursday, on to Glenamaddy (Galway) on Friday and back down to Holycross (Tipperary) on Saturday.
But who would have thought that these four festivals would have garnered four wins for the group to bring their tally of firsts to five, propelling them to third place on the league table.
Coupled with their win in Charleville, they also took best director, best actor (Sean Ahern) and best supporting actor (Brendan Dunlea).
Their trip to Glenamaddy won them no less than six awards – best play, best actor (Brendan Dunlea), best supporting actor (Sean Ahern), best lighting (Tomas Quirke and Aishling McGrath), best sound (Seamus Ahern) and best producer (Liam Howard).
It was left to The Palace Players to close the Holycross festival on Saturday night and they were rewarded for their efforts by winning best play, best producer, best actor (Sean) and best supporting actor (Brendan).
The West Cork result wasn’t known until Sunday night and here again, they took the majority of awards with Sean and Brendan both on the shortlist of three (along with Michael Crowley of Kilmeen) for ‘best actor’.
The group took best set, best lighting, best presentation, best actor (Sean), best supporting actress (Michelle Hurley), best producer and best play.
The other result that was outstanding was from Newry where Sean won ‘best moment of theatre’ for his ‘singing’ at the end of the play.
With every section of what is a major team effort having received an award, they now look forward to once again gracing the Athlone stage where, being the current title holders, will be very much under the spotlight.
The draws for the confined and open finals will take place on April 9 and 10 respectively.
‘The Gigli Concert’ will be staged locally prior to the All-Ireland RTE finals – watch this space for further details!