In recent years, UCD Musical Society has established itself as one of the most well-known, active and successful musical societies in the whole of Ireland. In its 10 years of existence, the society has seen over 25 shows take the stage, over 400 cast and production team members, thousands of audience members, hundreds of events, 36 AIMS nominations & 10 AIMS awards. This, however, didn’t come without the hard work of hundreds of committee, cast and production team members. From performing a show in the Dramsoc Theatre in front of under a hundred people to O’Reilly Hall in front of hundreds of people, we take a trip down memory lane to see how the society has grown from strength to strength over the last decade.
In Autumn of 2007 Dr Martin Butler approached UCD Dramsoc about running a musical in O’Reilly Hall. Dramsoc had only brought a show to Astra Hall for the first time the previous January, so bringing a musical to life in an even bigger venue for the first time was always going to be a challenge. Despite all doubts, concerns and issues, Dramsoc successfully produced 3 sold out performances of “West Side Story”, which received six nominations at the AIMS Awards 2008. Award nominations included Best Male Singer, Best Female Singer, Best Choreography, Best Musical Director, Best Director & 2nd Best Overall Show. Thus began the tradition of the UCD Community Musical, with a production of “Guys & Dolls” the following February in O’Reilly Hall.
What followed was a Dramsoc production of Rent in Astra Hall in April of 2009. With power cuts, people tripping over wires on stage, not enough space to dance and no rehearsal space; it was clear that there was a lot to learn about producing musicals. Despite these issues, Emily Leonard won Best Actress at the 2009 AIMS Awards for her portrayal of Maureen. On top of this, the people involved knew there was a huge interest in producing more musicals and serious room for growth. Thus, Jason Masterson (then Treasurer of UCD Dramsoc), wrote the constitution with fellow Dramsoc members over the summer of 2009, becoming the first auditor of a new society named “UCD Musical Society” which would be a separate entity to UCD Community Musical and UCD Dramsoc.
The first committee was formed and it was decided that “The Wedding Singer” would be the society’s first production which was put on in Astra Hall in November of 2009. Over the following year and half the society produced “Footloose” (UCD Community Musical), “Little Shop of Horrors” (UCD Musical Society) and “Beauty and the Beast” (UCD Community Musical).
What followed in the 3rd session was the introduction of a second UCD Musical Society production in Astra Hall with “Hercules” in April 2012 after having produced “Cabaret” the previous November. The society continued with 2 full scale shows (“Sweeney Todd” & “Grease”) and 1 community musical (“Phantom of the Opera”) in the 4th session, with Phantom of the Opera receiving 4 AIMS nominations and winning the Best Visual award. The society also took home Society of the Year award at the annual UCD Society Awards for the first time.
The 5th session saw UCD Musical Society produce “Into the Woods” & “The Producers” along with a UCD Community Musical production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Ryan Gillespie was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Narrator in Into the Woods, which was a huge achievement for the society as it was the first nomination UCD Musical Society received as a separate entity from UCD Dramsoc and UCD Community Musical.
The society furthered its success the following year with the 6th session producing “Bonnie & Clyde”, “A Chorus Line” & winning Society of the Year for the second time. It also introduced 2 new events which have been an annual occurrence for the society since. The first was Freshers’ Takeover (then called The Freshers’ Thingy) which provided our 1st year members the opportunity to perform in front of other members and audience members. The Performing Arts Ball was the second which was a formal social event for all UCD Musical Society members. Both events have grown tremendously in the past half-decade with record numbers of people partaking in both events in the 9th & 10th session.
By the 7th session, the society had already grown considerably from where it started. However, the growth since then has truly been remarkable. The 7th session saw UCD Musical Society rebrand itself setting up a website and getting a new logo, which has just been changed this year. The society also introduced a new competition titled “Musical Theatre Intervarsities”. Involved were CIT & NUIG, with each college performing a 20 minute piece. The competition has grown since then with the numbers going from 3 colleges and under 100 college students to 8 colleges to over 250 college students competing every year. Perhaps the 7th session’s biggest achievement was producing a community musical internally for the first time with 7th session Auditor Katie Stevens acting as Executive Producer on the Irish premiere of “Legally Blonde”. The production sold 700 tickets each night and made €40,000 in ticket sales alone. The large cast and production team were able to put together an AIMS nomination worthy performance with Conor Nolan being nominated for Best Choreography and the cast being nominated for Best Chorus. This was on top of the November production of “Jekyll & Hyde”, making it even more impressive.
In the following session, the society decided to produce a third, smaller scaled show at the beginning of the year. This show would go on to be branded as the Inaugural Show for every session. “The Last Five Years” was chosen as the first ever inaugural show and enjoyed a great reception from both society members and audience members. The following 2 shows “Parade” & “In The Heights” both received 5 AIMS nominations between them with Colin Gilligan, Katie Duffy & Derry Keeling enjoying success with their Best Supporting Actor, Choreography & Actress Awards respectively. Intervarsities was hosted for the second time in UCD and the society swept the majority of the awards winning Best Overall, Best Choreography & Best Female Performer among other awards.
Due to the society’s success in the previous year, the society were to compete in the higher Gilbert section of the AIMS awards for the first time. Continuing the inaugural show, UCD Musical Society produced “She Loves Me”, “Spring Awakening” & “Curtains”. Some fantastic performances led to Ruairí Nicholl, Rory Sheehy & Lisa Lyons all being nominated for Best Actor, Best Actor and Best Female Singer while choreographer Oisín Nolan received a nomination for Best Choreography. The society also continued their success at Inters 2018 winning Best Overall, Best Ensemble, Best Direction & Best Choreography.
The year of 2018/2019 was the society’s 10 year anniversary as a society. This anniversary was celebrated in style at the Alumni Dinner where over 100 past and present members reunited to enjoy a night of performances, food and celebrations. The society produced “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, “American Idiot” and “Cabaret”; which was the first time the society reproduced a show having already produced it in the 3rd session. Cabaret went on to get nominated for 5 awards at the AIMS Awards 2019, winning Best Choreography, Best Choreographer, Best Actress and runner-up for Best Direction & Best Overall. The society also produced its first ever original production with its “The Black Parade” entry for the MTI competition.
Last year, the society continued with all of its regular activities producing 3 musical productions, "Company", "The Addams Family" and "Our House". The shows were hugely successful and involved more people than ever. The society racked up 6 AIMS nominations this year to bring our tally to 15 AIMS nominations in the past 3 years alone.
After 11 successful years as a society, we take this moment to thank absolutely everyone who has contributed to the society over its existence. It has provided hundreds of students the platform to build their skills, do something they enjoy and meet friends for life. Having enjoyed many successful moments, UCD Musical Society hopes that it can provide many more to its members and growing even further as a society.