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Belfast Blues set for home run

Actress and author Geraldine Hughes
Actress and author Geraldine Hughes
By Ciara Quinn

“I WOULD like it to be a film, I think I’m ready to share it, I’ve held onto it very tightly,” says West Belfast stage and screen actress Geraldine Hughes as her autobiographical Belfast Blues comes home to roost at the Lyric as part of Féile an Phobail. Based on the first 18 years of the former St Louise’s Comprehensive College student’s life, the one woman show has been performed at St Mary’s University College, Los Angeles, Chicago and the Barrow Street Theatre in New York’s West Village and is very much about a ‘wee’ girl growing up in the ‘normality’ of the Troubles.
Geraldine, who has just wrapped a year long run playing the role of Professor Minerva McGonagall, immortalised on the silver screen by Maggie Smith, in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child alongside fellow ‘Westie’ Anthony Boyle spoke of how “delighted” she is to bring her story to a “new generation of theatre goers.”
“I’m a patron of Brassneck Theatre and it’s wonderful for me to be able to come home and do the show in partnership with them. When you are away from home I think you begin to reflect on things, you start to circle back a bit. This is very much a story of hope, laughs, it’s just happens to be my story,” she said.
Performing a total of 24 characters in the piece, Geraldine recalled how she first performed at the Lyric Theatre when she was just 13 in a stage production of Annie. It was this love for acting that saw her swap Divis flats for Hollywood at age 18. Roles in ER, The Good Wife and The Blacklist followed as well as acting alongside Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa and Clint Eastwood in 2008’s Gran Torino.
“Every night I tell the story of Belfast Blues differently,” explained Geraldine, “now I tend to tell it from a more sensitive point of view, I’m a little less apologetic about telling it, less sheepish. I’m eager to re tell the story to all those who are returning, the support from home is truly incomparable.”
Directed by fellow actress and “mentor” Carol Kane of Taxi and Scrooged fame, Geraldine said that her Emmy award-winning friend has “challenged her as an actress.” “She’s a real mentor of mine when it comes to acting.”
Brassneck’s artistic director Tony Devlin said: “It’s a huge coup for us that Geraldine is coming home to do the show. “Not only as our patron but as the star, the legend that she is. I remember going to watch the play in New York. Seeing a slice of Belfast was very comforting, very warm. This was and is a hugely powerful story and it was resonating with the New York audience. We are delighted to have Geraldine home and to bring it to the Lyric stage.”
Executive Producer of the Lyric, Jimmy Fay, added: “We are delighted to be partnering with Brassneck Theatre Company who have been delivering consistently brilliant shows with The Holy, Holy Bus and A Night with George. We are thrilled that Belfast legend, Geraldine Hughes, is bringing Belfast Blues to the Lyric off the back of her triumphant run with Harry Potter on Broadway and can’t wait to welcome her home.”
Belfast Blues will be performed at the Lyric Theatre from August 6-11 as part of Féile an Phobail. For ticket information visit www.lyrictheatre.co.uk or telephone 02890 381081.

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