THE Producers behind a new musical, dubbed the 'Irish Les Mis', paid a visit to Lisburn last week to discuss their plans for the project.
Plans for '1916 The Musical', a musical mixing fact and fiction around the story of the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, are well underway, with the production provisionally set to make its debut in Dublin in October 2011.
The musical tells the story of Bridie, a young woman working behind her family's bar, dreaming of a new life, across the sea.
Meanwhile, her brother Ciaran dreams of a new republic and the end of British rule. Their hopes and schemes could be realised or dashed when Harry, a young British soldier appears.
Under the tagline, Relive the nightmare; Believe the dream: This is '1916'; the musical is set amidst the backdrop of that Easter when 1600 men and women descended on Dublin, seizing the General Post Office to fight for Ireland's freedom. Producers for the show, Sean Ferris, the Executive Producer and Michael Persad, the Assistant Producer, visited Northern Ireland last week to speak to local people about the musical and to gain an insight into the feeling of the public towards the show.
Whilst some may view the subject matter as being somewhat controversial, the people behind the show say it is "a love story of the love of one's country", adding that they simply wish to "impart information and not take a political standpoint," instead telling the story from all sides.
As the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising 1916 approaches, those behind the musical hope to bring the production worldwide, ultimately having the show run in the West End and Broadway.
Speaking about the show and his motivation to undertake the project, Sean Ferris commented: "I came up with the idea 17 years ago.
"My mother was born in Strabane and brought up in Derry so I have always known about it but it just came into my head and I thought it would make a beautiful story for the stage.
"It has all of the emotion and passion and I thought it would be good to do something on it; I admire people, whatever their cause, who stand up for what they believe in."
Sean added: "I have been in contact with people from the University College Dublin and Trinity College, key historians in the UK, relatives of those at the Rising and I had a meeting with the great grandson of Joe Stanley who printed the propaganda for Patrick Pearse."
As well as researching and developing the story, Sean, Michael and their team have held open auditions to find their cast, which includes Paul Monaghan, the uncle of Hollywood star Colin Farrell, who has appeared in West End productions of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, as Tom Clarke. With the two lead characters still to be found, the producers have also been working on developing the music to the show, which they describe as having a "Hans Zimmer orchestral sound."
Speaking about the musical on their visit to the Star office, Sean said: "We have mixed fact and fiction; we want people to care about the characters. We also want to have a big orchestra with contemporary Irish folk music with moments of Celtic.
"We need it to appeal globally, so we wanted the music to speak to a global audience.
"We are planning to open in Dublin in October 2011, however, we have given ourselves a window of six months in case we need to make any adjustments, so it could be March 2012. You only get once chance to make a first impression," he said. Michael added: "We will also be working with Youth Action Northern Ireland through workshops before we open to get their feedback and also see it performed live.
"We feel it is important that Ireland is involved."To find out more about 1916 The Musical or to sign up for their exclusive newsletter providing all the latest news on the project please visit www.1916themusical.com.