The Miami Showband Story, a new stage musical about the iconic act once hailed as ‘the Irish Beatles’, is to hit theatres across Ireland this August and September.
The group’s hay day was in the 60’s and 70’s where they entertained both Catholics and Protestants throughout all of Ireland. However, in 1975 tragedy befell the band as they were attacked by loyalist paramilitaries travelling home from a concert. Three members of the group – Fran O’Toole, Brian McCoy and Tony Geraghty – were murdered.
Written by Marie Jones (Stones in His Pockets) and Martin Lynch (Dancing Shoes – The George Best Story), the musical will deal with the killings of 1975. However, surviving band mate and sax player Des Lee tells Travel Ireland Magazine that the show will put a greater emphasis on the joy the Miami Showband brought to audiences of the time.
“We didn’t want the play to be leaning heavily on the massacre,” says Lee. “Instead, we wanted it to explore what the Miami Showband was all about – how successful they were and what they meant to their fans. They were heroes of the time. This is a show that will bring smiles, laughter, tears and joy. It’s got everything. I can envisage people hearing ‘Clap Your Hands and Stomp Your Feet’ and dancing in the isles.”
“We all know the story. It’s one of the biggest of the Troubles,” says playwright Lynch, also speaking to Travel Ireland. “At first, I was apprehensive about tackling it but I got excited for two reasons. Firstly, I didn’t know Miami Showband member Ray Millar was from Belfast. I had danced to them when was I was 17 or 18 and hadn’t known that. But that’s the way these guys were. It was music, music, music. They didn’t care who was what.”
“The other reason was that I had danced to the group in the 60’s and had loved all their music. So, I gave Marie Jones a call and we chatted about it. I discovered she went to the same dance halls in Belfast, even though she’s from a Protestant background and I’m from a Catholic background. We agreed the musical was far too good an opportunity to miss. If we could capture that and put it on the stage, it would be fantastic.”
Lee says he and other living members of the Miami were involved in the musical, speaking to Jones and Lynch about their perspective on events. When asked why he wanted a musical about the Miami, the sax player replied: “Because of what happened to Fran, Brian and Tony and how I feel about that, I want to make sure that their names live on in history forever.”
The full list of dates for The Miami Showband Story are below. Ticket prices vary depending on venue.
- 8 – 17 August – Grand Opera House, Belfast
- 20 August – Market Place Theatre, Armagh
- 22 – 24 August – Millennium Forum, Derry
- 28 August – INEC, Killarney
- 30 August – Royal Theatre, Castlebar
- 2 September – Town Hall Theatre, Galway
- 4 September – The TLT Theatre, Drogheda
- 7 September – UCH, Limerick
- 10 – 11 September – Theatre Royal, Waterford
- 13 September – Solstice Arts Centre, Meath
- 16 – 21 September – The Gaiety Theatre, Dublin
Featured Image Credit – Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland