• Text Colour:
  • C
  • C
  • C
  • C
  • Text Size: A A A

Alley to host Strabane’s first ‘bespook’ Halloween show

16 October 2019

Halloween is fast approaching and preparations are well underway at the Alley Theatre for a seasonal celebration of all things spooky. This year the festivities begin on October 24th - 26th  with a special theatre production inspired by the classic horror flicks of old reinvented in a spell-binding musical performance that will appeal to ghouls and boo-oys of all ages.

Little Make Believe is an original production from the pen of seasoned local theatre producers David Oliver and Cat MacGinty, and delivered by The Arts Academy. The talented husband and wife team are the brains behind a number of original shows that have premiered at the theatre – including ‘Gutz’, ‘Balo Balo’ ‘Time’ and ‘Keep ‘er Lit!’  but this is their very first Halloween inspired production.

In fact the whole family are involved, as the couple’s two daughters are also included in the cast and are involved in the Arts Academy, which is run by another family member Gerry Strawbridge. Looking ahead to what he hopes will be another musical success, David is full of praise for the local community who have pulled out all the stops to bring it to the stage.

“So far we’ve staged ten productions - five of them originals - so I think we’ve been growing and developing over the years and we’ve learned a lot through experience. I hope that will come through in our latest production.

“The shows are only possible through teamwork. We have six tutors and a large kids’ cast as well as an adult cast of approx. 20, and a live band - not to mention all those who volunteer their time to help out backstage with all the various elements involved, from scenery to costumes. It’s a real community effort and we rely on the contribution of everyone to bring a production to the stage. I think the biggest challenge is probably co-ordinating the schedules of so many people with outside work and family commitments.”

David has a long history in the music industry, which coupled with plenty of family support, has kept his passion for musical theatre alive. “I’ve been involved in music my whole life, that would be my main focus, the music more so than the drama. I’ve written lots of songs and written some radio plays over the years. Then I settled down and I joined forces with my wife Cat McGinty to work on projects, and as time has gone on now the children can get involved. “It’s definitely changed my focus but it’s something that we can all get involved in as a family which is great. I suppose as the girls have grown up I’ve become more aware of the shows that appeal to children and the music they enjoy so that comes through in my work.

“In saying that I don’t let it restrict me in terms of creativity. I don’t consciously try to reach a certain audience, I write material and if it works it works. But I know they will keep me right and I get plenty of feedback from the family. I suppose as they get older the work will probably evolve as well.”

The show is completely original and tells the story of a family of monsters struggling to save their home when they’re threatened with eviction. “It’s the first time we’ve explored Halloween as a theme and I think it’s appropriate we have our own bespoke production as we have such a connection with the Halloween tradition here,” David explains.

“I wanted it to challenge people’s perceptions a little bit so the monsters are actually the heroes in this one and the humans are the bad guys – I think given the current political climate that was quite apt. Sometimes things - and people - are not what they seem. In saying that it’s very accessible and there’s plenty of humour for all ages featuring lots of the traditional Halloween figures linking back to horror books and films.

“We started rehearsing in September so we’ve done a lot of work already. One of the main challenges is that this is a completely original production so there’s nothing to follow for guidance. Although in some ways this allows us to take a more flexible approach to production and to change direction as we need to.

“I’m delighted to see Strabane’s very own Halloween production coming together and what can be achieved when community works together.”

While the musical pays homage to the classic horror genre David promises plenty of surprises along the way as Monster Hank struggles with looking after 13 kids while his wife is away and ‘The Suits’ move in to evict them from their family home. You can find out how they get on when the Strabane Arts Academy bring Little Make Believe to the stage from October 24th – 26th with shows at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Tickets are available now at www.alley-theatre.com or call 028 71 38 4444.

For more information on the Halloween festivities in Strabane go to derryhalloween.com/strabane-halloween