A HOLLYWOOD star will take to the stage of Cork Opera House for a musical he hopes will be as iconic as Riverdance.
Patrick Bergin, best-known for starring alongside Julia Roberts in the 1991 film Sleeping with the Enemy, will play Patrick Joseph McSweeney in The Blarney Stone, a new production featuring the Lee Valley Players from Macroom.
The musical, which runs in Cork Opera House on Wednesday, May 29, at 8pm, was penned by the late John McDonagh, whose brother, Thomas, was a famous poet and patriot of the 1916 Rising.
Bergin came across the script through a quirk of fate.
“I was in the home of the McDonaghs, in Tipperary, when I stumbled on this extraordinary script,” he said.
“The owner of the house told me that John wrote a lot of plays, which not a lot of people realise.
“She then informed me that he had also written a musical. I asked how I would find a copy and she directed me to the nearby drawer.
“It transpired that the script had been sitting in that drawer for 100 years. The whole coincidence was extraordinary. I brought it back to the Briery Gap, in Macroom, and said: ‘We’ve found our next musical.’ ”
He told of revisiting the iconic tourism spot.
“I went back to see the Blarney stone, because I needed a reminder of what it looked like,” said Bergin.
The production, which blends real-life drama with the magical world of Irish mythology, features the music of German composer Fritz Brase.
“He had travelled to Ireland back in 1923 to teach the Irish army how to play their instruments,” Bergin said.
“The Irish Army are going to play us into the Opera House and perform on stage before the show.”
Bergin, who is a talented musician, has also penned a song for the show, titled ‘A Time for Love’.
“I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone twice,” he said.
“But they say you are gifted, a good singing voice, if you kiss it three times, so maybe I’ll have to go back.”
The performer is glad to be able to finally bring the work of John McDonagh to life.
“Art is immortal. That is what makes it so special,” said Bergin.
He spoke of how the Blarney Stone has captured hearts across the globe.
“You’ve heard of the Bermuda Triangle,” he joked.
“I lived in the Bergin Triangle, which comprises LA, the UK, and Ireland.
“However, anywhere you go in the world, people know the Blarney stone. It’s a worldwide phenomenon. I’m hoping this musical will be as big as Riverdance. No matter what I know, it will have a long run.”
The Dublin native confessed that he still experiences nerves before a performance.
“Nerves kick off a bit of adrenaline, which gives you energy. I don’t think there’ll ever be a time in my life where I don’t have nerves before a performance.”
Blarney Castle is just one of many beautiful locations the actor has visited.
“I spent three months in Africa for a film called Mountains of the Moon,” said Bergin. “During that time, I slept in straw huts and ate fish from Lake Turkana. I’ve travelled all over the world and even slept in igloos. It’s been a good life.”
- Tickets for The Blarney Stone musical start from €22. For more information visit corkoperahouse.ie