Phantom of the Opera a ‘dream come true’ for young stars in Derry

Two young performers will be taking to the stage of the Millennium Forum in August to lead The Phantom of the Opera.

By Daire Ní Chanáin
Thursday, 14th July 2022, 9:45 am
Updated Thursday, 14th July 2022, 5:33 pm

Tirna-Kate Fox, 19, from Omagh, and Aodhan Kehoe, 20, from Derry, will play the lead roles in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, which is produced by Millennium Forum Youth Productions.

Aodhan said: “I had been involved in the Forum Youth Productions before, I had been in Cats and Legally Blonde so I really wanted to be involved in this. I had been in the ensemble of the other productions so I was so delighted to get the main part for this. I wasn’t expecting to get the Phantom so it was very exciting.

“I was part of the Playhouse Music Theatre Company last year, which was an intense eight months of conservatoire level training. That was completely free and involved singing, acting and dancing. We put on the White Handkerchief from that, which was a great insight for me into the world of professional work and seeing the process and workshops in real life.

“I think it’s class that we can do that in Derry but I think there needs to be more opportunities too. There’s so much talent here and having the opportunity to do it in your own town is wonderful. I live five minutes away from the Forum so it’s so handy to just be able to stay here and do what I love as opposed to going to Belfast or Dublin. To put on a full production and get the level of training we’re getting for nothing is just class.

“Previously, a lot of my acting jobs have been the giddy sidekick or upbeat roles and this is very different so it has been challenging. It’s been difficult to get into the characters mind-set and find the truth behind the text. You’re not just singing or moving, you have to find where the heart is too. Phantom is not just an evil person, there is some love in there somewhere. It’s a big undertaking for all of us to be able to sustain our voices not only for the run of the show but for the rehearsals leading up to it. We are being trained so that we could maintain our voices for a West End show, which could last four to five months instead of the four or five nights that we need. That training will also do wonders for us in the future.”

Tirna-Kate will be playing the lead role of Christine, a young soprano with whom the Phantom falls in love with. It’s a difficult role but something Tirna-Kate has wanted since she was small.

She said: “My acting and singing teacher knew playing Christine was my dream role so she told me about it and I applied straight away. I was ecstatic to see the email that I got the part and I ran into my mammy, who sort of played it cool and said she knew I would get it anyway. I knew she was bursting with excitement too, though.

“This production is so professional, they are preparing us vocally and physically so we go out there and perform our best. I have been involved in productions at home but it’s great to come here to Derry and meet new people and I feel like I’m pushing myself more than I would at home. Christine is a hard role to fill, she could be one of the most difficult female roles out there because of her range. She’s very low then very high so you have to flip your voice. She’s also challenging to act and it’s hard to get into her character but we’re working on that now and I’m really enjoying the process. Phantom is a troubled soul too so they’re very difficult but so interesting to crack open.

“I’ve learned so many things in rehearsals, even just today alone. The song, Phantom of the Opera, is a huge song and you don’t realise how many vocal techniques are needed for it until you pick it apart and then you see how hard the song really is.”

Aodhan said: “I do feel pressure to do well because Phantom of the Opera is so iconic. One thing we have here that the others don’t, however, is local talent. That’s something people don’t realise, it’s of a very high standard but it’s all local people. The standard of the dancing alone is phenomenal. The ballerinas are insane! People will be leaving wondering where these performers have been all their lives.”

Tirna-Kate added: “The north west has so much talent and I think people don’t realise that. Performers here don’t have the same opportunities as they would in Belfast or abroad so it can be hard for them to get the recognition or opportunities they deserve but peoples eyes will be opened when they see the show. So get your tickets and don’t miss the world-class display of local talent!”

Tickets are available now in the Millennium Forum Box Office on (028) 71264455 or at www.millenniumforum.co.uk.