Lurgan native Brigid Shine took to the stage of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast this week with NI Opera for their latest production Kiss Me Kate, which runs until February 22.
Kiss Me, Kate, Cole Porter’s iconic musical comedy, follows a fiery couple of co-stars feuding both on and offstage in a production of Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew.
Brigid has taken on the role of Hattie, Lilli Vanessi’s dresser and confidant, and she has been thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Since a young age, Brigid has loved to sing and was encouraged to develop her talent by her music teachers. “Singing is my favourite thing in the world. I find it so therapeutic, it is such a release,” explained Brigid. “I used to drive my sisters mad when we were younger, I would sing relentlessly on car journeys and I wasn’t too fussed about singing the right lyrics, I would just make up my own.
“I have been incredibly fortunate to have had wonderful music teachers at school. Miss Quinn and Mrs Tipping in Tannaghmore plucked me out of primary 2 to sing at Portadown Festival and I have been performing ever since.
“When I went to St. Mary’s (now St. Ronan’s) Fra McCann and Brian Greene encouraged me to take up singing lessons. I started training with Lynne Beggs and my weekly 20 minute slot of pure singing used to be the highlight of my week.
“I loved being in the choir at school – in St. Mary’s JHS our choir was great fun. Miss McCann and Mr Greene were so creative – while other choirs were singing quite traditional music, we were singing songs from Sister Act and Chicago.
“We competed in the School Choir of the Year, which used to be televised and we all thought we were famous) There were so many schools from all over the North involved. Didn’t we get to the finals and win the whole thing? It was magic! I will never forget it.”
Brigid’s passion for singing continued and she also developed a love of performing and musical theatre. “I have been acting since childhood with the Pamela Cassells School of Performance in Lurgan,” she continued. “It was Pamela who inspired me to pursue acting professionally and go to drama school. I took her advice and graduated with a Masters in Musical Theatre from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2015 .”
In recent years Brigid has played a number of high profile roles, which have seen her tread the boards both at home and away. “Most recently I originated the role of Theresa Carmody in the world premiere of a musical adaptation of Angela’s Ashes,” Brigid explained. “We toured in both 2017 and 2019 to a number of Irish venues including the Grand Opera House, Belfast and the Bord Gáis in Dublin, finishing up in the Ashcroft Playhouse in London in Autumn last year.
“Other favourite roles have been playing Angela in Abigail’s Party at the MAC, Belfast; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh; Rebecca in 1932: The People of Gallagher Street at the MAC, Belfast; playing Eponine in Les Miserables at Qatar National Theatre, and Tinkerbell in Hansel and Gretel at the MAC, Belfast.”
Brigid has loved being part of the cast of Kiss Me Kate, having played the role of Lucy Brown in The Threepenny Opera at the Lyric last year with the same director Walter Sutclifee.
“Rehearsals have been great fun,” said Brigid. “We are very lucky to be led by a dream team of creatives, Walter Sutcliffe directing, the formidable Jennifer Rooney choreographing and Conor Mitchell our genius musical director.
“I have learned so much from working with our brilliant cast; watching their process of creating a character. It is fascinating, The show is very physical with lots of dance, and our choreographer Jennifer has been working hard to build our stamina over the past few weeks. I tend to come home from work ready for the sofa.”
Looking forward to the curtain going up each night, Brigid said; “I find the show fascinating because of the element of ‘a show within a show’ and lifting the veil between what happens onstage and off.
“I don’t tend to get too nervous before a show because I enjoy being onstage so much. I will definitely have butterflies on opening night when I hear that beginners call.
“Audiences can expect a thoroughly entertaining evening with plenty of glitz, glamour and some drama thrown in for good measure.”
Brigid still has some dream musical theatre roles she would love to play, but she is also hoping to break into the world of television and film.
“My dream role since I was about seven years old has been Maria Rainer in the Sound of Music with Mary Poppins a close second,” continued Brigid. “This year it is my goal to venture into the world of TV and Film. Northern Ireland has become a hub for screen production in recent years and it’s an exciting time to be an actor here with the iconic Derry Girls, Line of Duty, and countless drama series’ being made on our doorstep.”
If you would like to catch Brigid and the rest of the cast of Kiss Me Kate in action, the show runs at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast from February 1 - 22. The curtain goes up at 7.30pm, with a 2.30pm matinee on Sunday afternoons. Tickets, priced from £12, are on sale from the Box Office. For more information visit lyrictheatre.co.uk.