Please sir, can I have some more traditions to pass on to the next generation?


A DAD'S LIFE:I like to think of my life as a piece of musical theatre, with the three women who also take shelter under my roof as the bit players in the larger Brophy production.

They occasionally claim to be stars in their own right but usually a dose of invective shot their way and instructions to retire to their own (smaller) trailers reminds them where they sit in the food chain.

This may stem back to schooldays. Every year through my secondary schooling, we put on a show. Oh, what a show we put on.

I could only look on, agog, for the first couple of years as my schoolmates wailed through classics like The King and I and Jesus Christ Superstar.

But when Lionel Bart’s Oliver came to town, I could no longer resist the lure of the greasepaint and on to the audition stage I strode.

Sarcasm and irony

I only have to re-read that last para to realise the sarcasm and irony that we accept as the norm among teenagers may not have existed back then.

No matter how cynical I feel now, back then, at 13, I thought The King and I was marvellous.

The cast looked like stuffed Chinese dolls and the make-up was straight out of a seven-year-old’s face-painting party, I remember it that well. But no matter. It was theatre, dahling!

I was fully sure the kid who played Herod in JCS would go on to Hollywood. I stood back for him, every time he passed thereafter, in a sort of basic awe.

This was at a time when you’d have half the senior rugby team turning out for auditions, to dance in the chorus. Maybe it was that very fact, that because we were bigger and hairier than anyone else, that we could get away with it.

Drama nerds

All that Glee stuff with the drama nerds separated from the footballers, that wasn’t happening in one pokey Kildare boarding school back in the 1980s.

The footballers were the drama nerds. Although, now that I think about it, I remember the coach of the senior team looking on aghast through his fingers. I thought it was in disappointment because we were having such problems nailing the final twist at the end of the Consider Yourself scene.

I still like to think of myself as the best Fagin understudy never to have made the West End.

On the off-chance the actual Fagin did make it to showtime, I was also handed the smaller parts of Noah Claypole (the undertaker’s assistant – my big break) and Dancer Number 3.

We figured there was no way the audience would notice the six foot six inch chap who had had a speaking role in the first act was leaping around like a swan, a swan I tell you, during Oom-Pah-Pah.


Local reviews raved about us. We were féted the length and breadth of the town. I didn’t allow the adulation go to my head, but ever since I have felt the theatre in my blood, and this love for the performing arts (and the accompanying skills obvious within this particular gene pool) I have encouraged within my own offspring.

Last year we had a sheep in a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as Gaeilge, while the other girl strummed guitar in the school band at the end-of-year show. Destiny beckons.

You may wonder what role a sheep has in the Roald Dahl classic, but I can assure you it is an important one.


Anyway, in an attempt to nurture the burgeoning dramatic talent within these walls, we have booked tickets for the extravaganza that started it all, Oliver in the Bórd Gais Energy Theatre, next month.

I tell them, this isn’t something we can do lightly. This isn’t a show we can just walk into and simply watch.

This is the show that moulded me into the man I am today. They must pay it some respect.

As such, I have procured a DVD of the Oscar-winning film and the soundtrack will be on repeat in the kitchen for the next few weeks.

Someone suggested reading the book, but seriously, Dickens was never great for carrying a tune.

I have to admit, hard as it is, our window for professional sports may have closed. They are 11 and seven now and no scouts, for anything, not even ladies golf, have approached me with sponsorship deals.

As a result, I’m not going to let them play golf, even if they want to.

But Hollywood. That’s still a possibility. Get them a scholarship to the BRIT school, the lead role in a Lloyd Webber production within a couple of years and then career-making parts in Sam Mendes’ next big movie.

Easy street.

Why not? They have the pedigree. Dahling.

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