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Brian Gilligan to play lead role of Deco in The Commitments

Natalie Hope, Brian Gilligan, Sarah O'Connor
Natalie Hope, Brian Gilligan, Sarah O’Connor

BRIAN GILLIGAN TO PLAY LEAD ROLE OF DECO AFTER BEING DISCOVERED WHILE SINGING IN PALACE THEATRE STAIRWELL

The Commitments, London’s soulful smash hit family musical, has today announced exciting cast changes for 2014/2015, changes which further underpin the producer’s dedication to giving hungry, fresh talent their break in the West End.

From Tuesday 16 September 2014, the lead role of Deco will be played by Brian Gilligan, who played drummer Billy ‘The Animal’ Mooney last year, after a quite remarkable turn of events.

Brian’s appointment to the role was serendipitous. The associate director of the production, C Jay Ranger, was backstage at The Palace Theatre, making her way upstairs to the offices when from the stairwell she heard the most astonishingly powerful, stirring voice launching into the vocals of Marvin Gaye’s soul classic ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’. Completely taken aback by the raw, soulful sound, she followed it up flight after flight of stairs, until she discovered Brian Gilligan, headphones on and in a world of his own, in a musical moment that would change his life.

C Jay immediately recommended Brian to Director Jamie Lloyd, who saw him for an audition and Brian was cast only a few weeks later. Brian and will be taking to the stage as Deco; a role he has coveted and admired since being enthralled by the way Roddy Doyle brought him to life in his best selling novel.

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On being cast in the role of Deco, Brian said: “I still can’t quite believe I’m playing the lead role in The Commitments! It’s every Dubliner’s favourite story and being from the North-side of Dublin myself, it’s a privilege and an honour to be bringing Deco to life on stage. He’s such a brilliant character; I can’t wait to get started.

Brian leaves big shoes to fill in the role of Billy Mooney, and filling those shoes will be an actor making his West End debut, John Currivan. John hails from the north side of Dublin and has always has a strong connection with The Commitments, even recognising his local area in the film, when his parents finally let him watch it.

Also joining the lead cast, in the role of bouncer-come-drummer Mickah, is another West End debutant, the multi-talented Sam Fordham. An actor, musician, film-maker and restaurateur, Sam has been performing since he was 11 years old and is no stranger to the rhythm section as he played drums for groove-pop band, Daytona Nights. Sam and Daytona Lights starred in Hollyoaks from 2011 – 2012, as fictional variations of themselves, and he’s hoping to channel his inner-punk to bring loose-cannon Mickah to life on-stage.

Playing the elder statesman in the group, Joey ‘The Lips’ Fagan, is the well versed Anthony Hunt, who includes Guys and Dolls amongst his many credits. Joey is the band’s spiritually inspired trumpet player extraordinaire and the only original soul man, or so he’d have them believe. He has quite a way with the ladies too; they don’t call him ‘The Lips’ for nothing…

Joining The Commitmentettes, Dublin’s answer to The Supremes, in the role of Natalie will be Natalie Hope. Natalie has been with the company as part of the ensemble cast since the show opened last year, and has now taken the step up into the lead cast to perform alongside Sarah O’Connor and Jessica Cervi in the sexiest and most feisty trio of soul singers in Barrytown. Also stepping into the lead cast having spent last year in the ensemble is John McLarnon (We Will Rock You), who will be assuming the role of founding band member and lead guitarist, Outspan.

Remaining with the cast in the lead role of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young working class music fan and the band’s manager is Denis Grindel, who made his professional stage debut when the show opened in October 2013. Denis has garnered rave reviews for his portrayal the affable Jimmy, with the Sunday Telegraph describing him as “A genuinely charismatic star”.

The Commitments and its exceptionally talented new cast are continuing bring the people’s music to the people of London, getting audiences of all ages on their feet and dancing in the aisles. Finally, a West End musical with soul.

Cast
Denis Grindel – Jimmy Rabbitte
Denis, 23, is playing Jimmy Rabbitte, the visionary young music fanatic who shapes a group of unlikely amateur musicians into one of Dublin’s finest live bands. It could all have been so different for Denis though, who having completed a Law degree in 2012, almost accepted a job in the marketing department of a top London retailer, until he took a very late audition for Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. He won his place and turned his back on his marketing career, and aren’t we glad he did.

Brian Gilligan – Deco
Brian, 27, has been cast in the lead role of Deco, after performing in the show as Billy ‘The Animal’ Mooney for a year. Discovered while singing to himself in a stairwell at the Palace, he blew director Jamie Lloyd away and was cast only a few weeks later. Brian has coveted the role of the obnoxious but hugely talented Deco since seeing the film as a boy, and is enthralled by the way Roddy Doyle brings his characters to life.

Sarah O’Connor – Imelda
Sarah, 23, plays Commitmentette, Imelda. Growing up in Lucan in Dublin, Sarah was practically brought up with The Commitments as her parents were fans of both the book and film. So when she heard that it was being turned into a West End show, she made sure her agent got her an audition. Sarah was a finalist on RTE’S Fame – The Musical, where she appeared alongside fellow cast member Jessica Cervi.

Natalie Hope – Natalie
Natalie has been cast in the role of her name-sake, Natalie, having spent a year with the cast as part of the ensemble. She is absolutely thrilled to be part of the lead cast and to be performing as part of the sassiest vocal trio in the West End, The Commitmentettes.

Jessica Cervi – Bernie
Jessica, 23, plays our final Commitmentette, Bernie. Jessica heard about the production two years ago when sat in the back of a cab in Dublin. She never thought she would get the part, but here she is. After winning the lead role in Fame in 2010 by winning Fame – The Musical, a hit TV show in Ireland similar to BBC’s Over The Rainbow, the show went on tour in Ireland. She then took the big step to move to London to study at The Royal Academy of Music in 2011.

Anthony Hunt – Joey ‘The Lips
Anthony will be performing in the show in the role of Joey ‘The Lips’ Fagan, the band’s spiritually inspired trumpet player extraordinaire and the only original soul man in The Commitments, or so he’d have them believe. He has quite a way with the ladies too, but to the behest of his younger band-members. Anthony includes Guys and Dolls amongst his many credits.

Mark Dugdale – Derek
Mark, 33, plays Derek, the second half of the rhythm section, the true heart of the band. Mark spent a childhood trying to watch The Commitments with his Dad, and being told to turn it off by his Mum – so he knew he was really on to something. Mark took part in The Commitments workshop a few years back and has since waited patiently for the show to come to fruition. He used his time well though, appearing in We Will Rock You, Les Miserables and Chicago, and learned the bass guitar as well.

John Currivan – Billy
John is making his West End debut, in the role of evermore disgruntled Billy, the drummer who reaches breaking point with our front man. Being from North Dublin himself, John recognised parts of his local area in the film and he couldn’t more excited to be being part of the production.

Andrew Linnie – Dean
Andrew, 23, plays Dean, who takes to the saxophone like a duck to water. So much so in fact, Dean begins to stray from the sometimes rhythmic confines of Soul, towards the dreaded, unspeakable… Jazz. Andrew’s musical talent is even more enhanced than Dean’s, and has featured regularly throughout his short career. Trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London, The Commitments was Andrew’s West End debut one year ago.

Sam Fordham – Mickah
Making his West End debut, in the role of bouncer-come-drummer Mickah, is the multi-talented Sam Fordham. An actor, musician, film-maker and restaurateur, Sam has been performing since he was 11 years old and is no stranger to the rhythm section as he played drums for groove-pop band, Daytona Nights. Sam and Daytona Lights starred in Hollyoaks from 2011 – 2012, as fictional variations of themselves, and he’s hoping to channel his inner-punk to bring loose-cannon Mickah to life on-stage.

John McClarnon – Outspan
John has performed in the ensemble of the show since it opened in 2013. John is delighted to be cast in the role of lead guitarist Outspan for 2014/2015, not least because Glen Hansard, who played Outspan in the film of The Commitments, is his idol and musical hero! John has great experience of performing and has been in a band as long as he can remember, but none of them could hold a candle to the saviours of soul.

Barnaby Southgate – James
Barnaby plays James, on piano. Barnaby boasts not only great acting talent, but musical talent too, playing and composing, making him perfect to take to the keys in The Commitments. His theatre credits include Carmen at the Leicester Square Theatre and his works as a musician and composer a musician and composer include him performing as resident at The Royal Festival Hall, and composing scores for BBC’s Songs of Praise and See Hear.

Cast as at October 2015
Denis Grindel – Jimmy
Mark Dugdale – Derek
Brian Giligan – Deco
Anthony Hunt – Joey
John McLarnon – Outspan
John Currivan – Billy, Dave
Andrew Linnie – Dean
Nalalie Hope – Natalie, Resident Choreographer
Barnarby Southgate – James
Sean Kearns – Jimmy’s Da
Sarah O’Connor – Imelda
Jessica Cervi – Bernie
Sam Fordham – Mickah
Emily Olive Boyd – Alice
Julia Worsley – Jimmy’s M/Outspan’s Ma
Alex – Tomkins – Alternate Deco, Male Ensemble, Ray
Fiona Carty – Female Ensemble
Daniel Lloyd – Male Ensemble
Thomas Snowdown – Hot Press
Amy Penston – Female Ensemble
Hollie O’Donoghue – Female Ensemble, Swing
Peter Mooney – Male Ensemble
Padraig – Dooney – Male Ensemble
Christopher Fry – Male Ensemble
Ryan Gibb – Male Ensemble
Mark Irwin – Male Ensemble, Swing

Creative Team
Writer – Roddy Doyle
Director – Jamie Lloyd
Producer – The Commitments London
Music Supervisor – Alan Williams
Designer – Soutra Gilmour
Lighting – Jon Clark
Choreographer – Ann Yee
Sound – Rory Madden

Palace Theatre
Performance times: Tuesday – Sunday at 7.30pm, Saturday at 3.00pm & Sunday at 2.30pm
Venue: Palace Theatre, 109 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 8AY.

Author

  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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1 thought on “Brian Gilligan to play lead role of Deco in The Commitments”

  1. Christine Elsmore

    Fantastic show We really enjoyed every moment. Great cast. Standing ovation at the end. Would have liked the show to have continued for much longer. We would definitely go and see the show again.

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