“¡Mama Mia, Papa Mia!” A Theatrical Triumph at St. Nathy’s College

This Bank Holiday weekend all roads led to Ballaghaderreen, where our theatrical triumph “¡Mama Mia, Papa Mia!” was stopping traffic on the N5! There was not a spot upon a mile of road, that had no shadow thrown and there certainly was not room to park a bicycle. 

The students burst onto the stage, immediately captivating the audience with their infectious energy. This show was simply a whirlwind of laughter, music, and talent. The remarkable cast was made up of almost 70 transition year students who poured their hearts and souls into their respective roles. Their performances were extraordinary, delivering a blend of fabulous singing, great acting, and a witty display of one liners. Isn’t that right Camilla? “There were three of us in this marriage!” and then Bill’s “Us Bankers have no secrets!.” The audiences were kept on the edge of their seats throughout each show and although we did not think it possible at the time, (Thurs. night) the production just kept getting better and better. It was a show that just kept on giving.  

What set “¡Mama Mia, Papa Mia!” apart was not just its electrifying performances but the fact that it was a 100% in-house production. From conception to execution, every aspect of the musical was pioneered by the tremendously talented individuals in St. Nathy’s College under the guidance of the renowned Director Mr. Peter Mc Loughlin. Adding to the melodic backbone of the show was Ms. McHale’s choir.  Their voices could be heard soaring through the ceiling of our vast PE hall and provided the perfect power to raise the roof with their chorus before permeating through the night skies down Church Street and beyond. 

The success of “¡Mama Mia, Papa Mia!” must be attributed to all the team as well as the performers.  As mentioned above, it was not only an ‘in-house’ performance, but  it was also an ‘all-house’ performance,  a collective achievement that involved the tireless efforts of the Director, Mr. Peter McLoughlin, the Choreographer, Ms. Cora Duffy, Ms. Cawley and the costume designers, Ms. Owens the Art Teacher, the Woodwork dept, Roisin Surlis and her Hair & Make up team, the School secretaries, Mary and Stephanie, the backstage crew, plus lights and sound, Mary and Claire who manned the Cantine and kept us topped up with refreshments during the break, our caretaker Andrew Hopkins, parking steward Seamus Regan, raffle organiser Mr. O’Suilleabhain (& his team), Mr. Brady our cameraman and the Teachers who helped out over the three evenings as well as all the other staff and students who ably assisted in the months and weeks leading up to our debut D-day!, not forgetting School management who were very accommodating and encouraging to all involved. A special thanks also to all our generous sponsors and to Ms. Gildea for her hours spent on publisher doing the booklets and indeed printing endless photos for PRO. To Ms. Garvey who must have a splitting headache with all the S&S cover she had to continuously update and juggle, to Fr. Henry for arranging our trip to Midwest radio and his omniscient support for the whole project. It is a shining example of what can be accomplished when a School and a Community came together and made it happen. 



Each famous song served as a perfect background to allow our TY cast to tell their story.  Every ABBA hit complemented the narrative and allowed the characters to draw the audience in. The audiences most definitively needed a spare pair of dancing shoes as they felt the inevitable urge to hop out into the aisle to groove. This could be seen from the swaying rows who literally could not sit still in their seats.  


First up was “Dancing Queen” as its contagious notes filled the air, the audience was soon teleported off to a warm sunny place, but this time not the familiar Greek island, this time “Dancing Queen” took us to Laura’s Taverna in Spain where the sun was equally hot, hot, hot!!!!  

“Knowing Me, Knowing You” introduced us to the characters of ‘Young Tom’ (Henry Black) and ‘Young Laura’ (Mary Moffat/ Kate Molloy) as Tom breaks her heart and leaves for pastures new in London. Ah, yes, Tom, one always thinks that “the grass is always greener on the other side” but you will learn……..  

Up next was “Money Money,” blasted out by the positively optimistic Katelyn Mc Teigue, dressed in pink to make the boys wink! aka Sarah the poor Teacher, who dreamed of finding a rich man to scoop her off her feet so she “wouldn’t have to work at all!” Good plan Sarah, no wonder you ended up with a Banker, a rich man for sure! Excellent choice, you go girl! 

Of course, one cannot put on “iMama Mia! Papa Mia!” without mentioning the titular track itself – a rousing call to arms for anyone who has ever belted out ABBA lyrics in the shower or danced like a maniac at an Irish wedding reception…… It was the ultimate feel-good song of the night, guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step.  

Now to cast a quick glance at the characters. From the fiercely independent Laura (Gabrielle Heavey) who is “no man’s woman” to the high-spirited Sarah (Katelyn Mc Teigue) who just wants a man, to Tanya Tucker (Aaranyna Waldron) who has a man, but does not want a man…. well sort of……  each member of the cast brought their own unique flavour to the party. Then, it was time for Tanya to come clean and own her man. The audience found out what a “super Trouper” Mike actually was. All credit to our very own Liam Boyle who flew to Glascow to be in the crowd and support his Tanya. Good man Liam, you always were a gentleman!😉😉😉 


Just when the audience was all loved up along came Elena (the not so innocent daughter of Laura, aka Brooke Coleman) who really did deserve a few penalty points for her antics in Maths class! The poor Teacher (Henry Black again, but as a different character) was only trying to explain ‘the laws of Geometry’ and did not expect to be assaulted in such a manner/ otherwise known as *kissed*… Well, not only did the “whole class go wild”, but the audience did also. They had not been expecting that! Wow! Elena, we had not seen that coming! “When I kissed the Teacher” was then beautifully sung by our own beautiful Brooke Coleman  


“Voulez-Vous” –ah that beautiful French phrase (which will come in handy when formulating questions in next week’s French Oral exams) had the audience and dancers swaying back and forth.  It would have been impossible not to get caught up in the infectious energy of it all. Everyone was laughing, crying, and belting out the lyrics à tue-tête (at the top of their voice) – no judgment here. We were all singing. 

Then poor Laura was feeling down again but thankfully “Chiquitita” saw the power of friendship shine through and luckily for her, besties Sarah and Tanya were on hand to cheer her up. It was a heartfelt ballad that tugged at our heartstrings and made us all want to hug our besties. It was a reminder for Laura that no matter what life threw at her, she can always count on the power of friendship, and Tanya and Sarah manned up to the job. The Bridget-Jones knickers and hefty looking bra gave us all a little laugh.  All that was missing was a giant tub of Ben and Jerrys ice-cream! 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true ABBA tribute without a healthy dose of disco fever, and “Gimme Gimme Gimme” delivered the goods in spades. It was like a shot of pure adrenaline straight to the heart, every row in the house was grooving to the beat. But be careful what you wish for Sarah (Katelyn McTeigue), I bet you were not expecting such an explosion of scantily clad men.  An army of at least, a 20-plus stronghold of tanned torsos and bulging biceps burst at speed into the hall. Aldi never saw a middle aisle so full!  As the bodies poured in via the main door, they then aptly took over the stage.  Poor Sarah didn’t know where to look🙈🙈🙈, Oh Lord. The audience roared and laughed. Our Spanish/TY men played a blinder and were loving every minute of being centre stage. It was a hard job, but someone had to do it! And they willingly stepped up to the mark. The audience whistled and clapped as the men winked and flexed muscles to rapturous applause. St. Nathy’s never saw as many liters of Saint Tropez or Dior Sauvage. To reference “Briget’s Jones’ diary” yet again, it really was “raining men”. Alleluia says Sarah! 

After all that excitement it was time to be serious again, so back to Gabrielle and Tom’s story. Behind all the glamour and glitz, there were moments of quiet reflection too. Gabrielle and Aaron gave a spine–tingling rendition of “One of us is lonely”. Hard to argue with either of them as every word they said was true. The facial expressions and superb acting really pulled at the heart strings, and as the play was nearing its final quarter, we were all secretly hoping that they’d both see the light and get back together as they really were a match made in Heaven. But as we all know ‘One of us is lonely’ offered a poignant insight into the complexities of love and relationships and it’s not always that easy no matter how much the audience craves a happy ending.  


Next up was a hilarious mousetrap scene, a play within a play so to speak. So, we then had the character Nick (Christopher Magee) pretending to be Pedro the playboy, Sam (Patrick Gaynor) disguised as Diego, Noah Philips the taxi driver disguised as Miguel and Jose (Cathal Mc Donagh) all playboys of the western world, all fighting to win the heart of Sarah (to make Bill ‘man up’). What followed was a slap stick commedia dell Arte.  There was no shortage of stunts, buffoonery, floor rolling, slap throwing, chair sliding, punch throwing and much more. Oh, how we laughed. Meanwhile the penny dropped as the bashful “Bill the Banker” watched on in horror, realising that it was now or never as Sarah was in seventh Heaven and was having the time of her life surrounded by “amor” / Spanish love. Bill was visibly jealous when the outrageously flirty Miguel (aka Noah Philips) suggestively said that Sarah was “ hermoso” (beautiful). All on stage sang “Does your mother know?” the song where effectively Sarah turned down the advances of the gyrating pelvis platoon to let her true beau Bill “Take a chance on (her) me”. Which he did. Although, we all think Saturday night’s improvised shoelace tying incident was unnecessarily cruel. Bill you brat! 


We were then treated to an impromptu visit by Camilla, the ex-wife of the long-suffering Tom, a veritable mixture of Cruella De Vil and Madame Bouquet. Grace Mc Dermott nailed the role and had the audience in stitches. “Isn’t that right Hugh?” Camilla was accompanied by her henpecked husband Hugh who literally bent over backwards to validate the opinions of his belle.  We thought there would wigs on the green at one stage when gobby mouth Camilla insulted her son’s new girlfriend, not knowing that the girlfriend’s mother was listening. Yes, Laura was like a lioness about to attack as someone had insulted her cub. Thankfully Tom was there to save us from a possible display of handbags at dawn. Camilla, that mouth of yours……..“Toodles”. 


We then saw a possible glimmer of hope for Gabrielle and Tom when they sang SOS as the audience saw them reminiscing about the good old days. Next up was “The Winner takes It All” a bitterly beautiful ballad that reminded us that for every winner, there is a loser, and our hearts broke as we followed Laura and then Tom on stage for that haunting ballad. There was a genuine sense of heartfelt sincerity in “The Winner Takes It All,” However, luckily “All’s well that ends well” and we got our happy ending. Laura and Tom got back together, Sarah and Bill finally found each other, and Tanya acknowledged Mike.  So, they are all now going to get married or renew their vows in Laura’s Taverna….Could this be the continuation for TY 24/25? Peter Mc Loughlin, get your quill out! 


On Saturday night as the final curtain fell on “¡Mama Mia, Papa Mia!” the words of “Waterloo” filled the air, the audience rose to a standing ovation. One thing was clear, “¡Mama Mia, Papa Mia!” will be remembered not just for its entertainment value but for the spirit it embodied, the community it strengthened, the dreams it inspired and quite simply the “craic” they had. The downside to all this is, they sure have set the barrier high for all future TY classes! As they now have a new standard of excellence as the legacy of “¡Mama Mia, Papa Mia!” will live on, a beacon of creativity in the indominable spirit of St. Nathy’s College. Robur Nathaei! 













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