Top theatre director, Michael Quinn, from Portadown resurrects hilarity of hit series ‘The McCooeys’ with top cast at the Grand Opera House, Belfast

Theatre director Michael Quinn was born in Jervis Street, Portadown when a railway line still ran along the top of the road rather than the current motorway.

His grandparents lived in nearby Alexandra Gardens while his father John worked at the long gone Metal Box factory in Brownstown and his mother was a ‘home help’ as they were known in those days.

Michael himself worked at various jobs including supermarket shelf-filler, a taxi driver, a nursing home assistant and a bingo caller.

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He began his theatre career in the North East of England and has worked throughout the UK and in France, notably with the TyneWear Theatre Company (now Northern Stage), the Cardiff-based Sherman Theatre, and in London’s fringe theatre and West End, and on national tours, with the pioneering new writing-focused Bristol Express Theatre Company.

Michael Quinn, director of The McCooeys, who originally came from Portadown, Co Armagh.

He is a former Radio Drama Producer based in BBC Northern Ireland’s Belfast headquarters, where he directed dramas, poetry readings and a documentary on Louis MacNeice for BBC Radios Ulster, BBC3 and BBC4.

On radio he produced a raft of work by Northern Irish writers including Owen McCafferty, Brian McAvera’s Picasso’s Women (“Now we’re talking award winners!” The Observer) and Belfast playwright Martin Lynch’s Pictures of Tomorrow, of which The Stage said: “It is only rarely that a broadcast play can touch the heart to its very depths while gripping the intellect… under the direction of Michael Quinn [it] has made a triumphant transfer from the stage”.

He has directed shows for the Belfast Theatre Company and the Belfast-based The Production Company, which he co-founded, and for which he created David Brett’s epic portrait of the city, Hunger, in the then newly-opened Waterfront Hall.

With The Production Company, he also mounted exhibitions by, and published monographs and catalogues for, noted Northern Irish artists including Graham Gingles, Alistair MacLennan and Barbara Freeman, to whose Portadown-accented 2013 video Drifting the Bann he contributed.

Patrick McBrearty, Dan Gordon and Christina Nelson who will appear in The McCooeys Live! which is running in the Grand Opera House Studio stage from Wed 16 February 2022 to Sat 26 February 2022.

Away from the theatre, Michael is a former Deputy Editor of Gramophone and Classic FM magazines and a noted theatre and music journalist.

A programming consultant to Northern Ireland’s newest arts centre, the Portico of Ards in Portaferry, he has also been an artistic assessor for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

He is delighted to return to directing for a revival of Joseph Tomelty’s classic radio serial The McCooeys Live! at the Grand Opera House in Belfast.

Michael said: “The McCooeys is as fresh and funny, recognisable and relevant, today as when Joe Tomelty wrote it in the 1950s when it reached across every imaginable divide here to unite audiences in their hundreds of thousands.

“For this first-ever revival on stage, we’re blessed with a cast of Northern Ireland’s finest actors – including Dan Gordon, Carol Moore, Christina Nelson, Mary Moulds and Patrick McBrearty – bringing back to life unforgettable characters like Granda and Maggie McCooey, Aunt Sarah, Henrietta Toosel and Bobby Greer.”

Now living in Kilclief, County Down, Michael continues to write about theatre, opera, classical music and Irish traditional music for print and online outlets in the UK, Ireland and Australia.

The McCooeys, the classic, hit radio series featuring Belfast’s most famous family, created by the legendary actor, director and writer Joseph Tomelty, was a must listen to in the post war era.

The lives of The McCooeys, their relatives, friends and neighbours were followed by hundreds of thousands of listeners across Northern Ireland between 1949 and 1955. Every Saturday night people tuned in to listen to the ups and downs of Granda, Maggie, Aunt Sarah, Sally, Bobby Greer, Henrietta Toosel and others. Today, many still recall sitting around the radio listening to the hugely popular production on the BBC Northern Ireland

Home Service.

Now they’re back, in episodes unheard since they were first broadcast and coming to the stage for the first time. And it’s business as usual, with drama aplenty when the McCooeys are burgled, and laugh-out-loud comedy when Henrietta Toosel makes her first appearance, and as Granda’s lost raffle ticket threatens his hopes of a holiday in Newcastle.

The McCooeys Live! is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Grand Opera House Studio, Ian Wilson, Chief Executive of the Grand Opera House, said: “I am delighted to be working with Centre Stage in bringing the show to a wider audience.

“The production, with its brilliant cast, is perfect for the intimate setting of the theatre’s Studio. Huge numbers of people tuned into Joseph Tomelty’s The McCooeys each week during the 1950s, and this production brings to life some of the scripts that made the show such a massive hit with a generation of radio listeners.”

The McCooeys Live! will be staged at the Grand Opera House Studio from Wed 16 February – Sat 26 February, 2022. Tickets start from £11.75. For further information and to book, visit: https://www.goh.co.uk/whats-on/the-mccooeys/ Follow Centre Stage Theatre Company on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @CentreStageNI #TheMcCooeys



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