GUTZ in the News!

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Packed To the ‘Gutz’

The Alley Theatre was packed to capacity last month as, after huge demand, the musical ‘Gutz’ returned to the venue for two nights following
its massively successful debut in the summer. From the pen of Strabane songwriter and composer, David Oliver, ‘Gutz’ is a highly charged extravagant parade that focuses on a year living in the feral, unmerciful, yet seductive lair of New York City.

The theme of gender inequality in the workplace is central throughout, as Casey Carson (Christina McBeth) moves to the ‘Big Apple’ and begins an internship for Davis Power Inc, one of the biggest financial players in the City. She is joined by Cole Jackson (Chris McLaughlin), a streetwise, tough young man from Philadelphia; the beautiful razor sharp Angel Martinez (Viki Temple) from Queens and Tyler Brown (Trevor McGarrigle), a well heeled, arrogant son of a rich man from so-called ‘good stock’ in New Haven.

The four begin their internship with the promise that one will be offered a full time position as an associate. Songs such as ‘Chasing Rainbows’, ‘Working in the City’ and ‘Take Just What You Need’ chronicle their journey from initial smalltown America innocence to a
weary and ever growing cynicism. We witness a hedonistic life in the fast lane, with the ever changing work/personal relationships between colleagues and lovers becoming increasingly fractured as the year progresses.

Ultimately, the thin veneer of big city egocentrism begins to unravel and all is not always what it seems! The music and choreography tuned perfectly into the emotionsof the plot; be it on the chaotic, alluring city streets, the tribal setting of the work place or the nightlife scene steeped in all types of walks and wild sides. As for the cast, they were more than up to this most challenging of productions, performing with the boisterous attitude and spark that the show demanded.

‘Gutz’ may have been devised, composed and produced in Strabane, but it more than stands-up to critique and will continue to develop and improve in future productions, more of which are on the way. The show takes itself on the road in 2016, starting with An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny in March and Derry’s Millennium Forum in May. The genie is out of the bottle about ‘Gutz’ now, so snap your tickets up for those shows right away.

By Michael Ferry

All singing, all dancing…



People like Christina McBeth would make you green (with envy). She’s multi-talented, whip-clever and obviously wasn’t born at the top of the ugly tree (and thus didn’t hit every branch on the waydown) – it’s just so unfair!

The 25-year-old has an endearing, easy smile too, one which borders on the sassy and as we sit sipping coffees in a cafe downtown, she strikes me as someone who is could be anything she wants to be. As things stand, Christina already has an honours degree in law and French. She can sing. She can play the guitar, the piano and the tenor horn and most recently, she wowed a succession of capacity crowds at the Alley Theatre in Strabane with her portrayal of Casey Carson in the acclaimed musical ‘Gutz’. And (and this is a big one), she can do a perfect American accent. “I was a bit worried about the accent,” Christina laughs.

She clears her throat. “I gotta get a burn on – do you mind,” she adds in a southern drawl. “But that’s part of what I loved about the musical, you could say things like that in an American accent and get away with it.” Christina is referring to David McGarrigle’s ‘Gutz’ which has garnered raving reviews since its limited run at the Alley earlier this month. Incidentally, Gutz has also secured a second run at the local theatre and the word is, it’s popularity could go stratospheric – or at least Christina thinks so anyway. A colourful tale of a small town girl (Christina’s Casey) bidding to make it in the big city, Gutz is literally all-singing, all-dancing…

For her part, Christina has been singing for as long as she can remember. She is no stranger to the Alley either having performed there on numerous occasions as one half of the McBeth Sisters (with Aoife). She is also a former member of St Joseph’s Brass Band in Strabane and is a one-time member of the folk group at Melmount chapel. And yet, despite all this, she was still hesitant about taking the lead in Gutz when she got the call from creator David. “David sent a Facebook message to me and Aoife when he was writing the musical,” she explains. “Basically he wanted to know if we’d like to be involved. Aoife couldn’t (she’s studying
medicine at Queen’s) and I thought, OK, maybe it could be a nice thing to do. “I assumed that he was asking me to be a member of the chorus; I knew his music and I thought it would be a bit of craic. But when he
said he’d like me to do the lead…” Christina trails off, wide-eyed. In short, when faced with the proposition, Christina said she’d have to think about it. It wasn’t that she was afraid of the commitment
she said (she had previously appeared in Jesus Christ Superstar at uni) but rather, she was unsure as to whether she could carry the lead off. Fortunately, she didn’t have to think too long.
“I rang him back to say I’d do it,” she smiles. “If you were talking to any of my friends or family, they’d tell you that this was perfect for me. I was still apprehensive about taking on the lead but I had auditioned for roles like this in the past in different productions but I didn’t get them. At the time, I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not supposed to get leads…’ And to add compliment to convalescence, she’s humble into the bargain.

“David was brilliant the whole way through. He was so laid back too and it was like he was saying, this is going to be brilliant if we all do our bit.” Eager to pass on credit to her co-stars, Christina paid tribute to everyone who took part in Gutz. “Absolutely everyone worked so hard to make it a success,” she said. “And it was a cast which had so many prominent roles. We had no fall-outs whatsoever and everyone got on so well.

“I think that everyone wanted to do their best for David; he’s from Strabane and most of the others are from Strabane too. Nothing was any problem for him. He was always available if anyone had a question and the way he was in rehearsals… it made going to them so much fun.” The writer himself also fully admitted he had been overwhelmed by the reaction to what was his debut piece of theatre. In fact, he said as much in this very newspaper just last week. He used the words, ‘incredible’, ‘buzz’ and ‘unbelievable’ – but not in that order. “I think it (Gutz) absolutely has legs,” Christina says. “It’s so relevant to the world today whereas if you think of other musicals, even though the songs are good, they can be a bit dated. “The music and the arrangement that David wrote for the band – it had the hair standing on the back of my neck.”
She concluded, “I’m so glad I said, ‘yes’.” • Gutz will return to the Alley in November. Tickets for these performances will go on sale in August. Check for updates.

Christina McBeth: ‘I think it (Gutz) absolutely has legs’

Musical ‘Gutz’ snapped up for second run

gutznewspic1BY CONOR SHARKEY
Such has been its success since it premiered at Strabane’s Alley Theatre earlier this month that ‘Gutz – the Musical’ has been snapped up for a further run. David McGarrigle’s colourful tale of a small town girl bidding to make it in the big city attracted a sell out crowd three nights in a row and has had delighted theatre-goers raving since.

It has now been confirmed that the show will be returning in November for a two night stint in the Alley Theatre. Meanwhile Letterkenny’s An Grianan have all but confirmed that they too will be inviting the cast of Gutz to Donegal for the first time in October. The story itself follows the journey of Casey Carson, played by the feisty Christina McBeth, as she leaves home for the first time to pursue a career in the finance district of a major city.

There she encounters an orchestra of characters – from the shallow and money-driven to the sweet and innocent – but who all, in one way or another, shape who she is and what she wants. On her journey Casey confronts greed, deceit, sexism, bullying and even marriage infidelity. The potentially weighty topics though are teased out against a backdrop of quality acting, energetic dance routines and soaring vocals.
Gutz has already been dubbed a triumph and the Alley Theatre’s marketing manager, Emma Devine, said they were delighted that David McGarrigle had agreed to bring it back.

“The feedback we have had from audiences has been amazing and we are delighted that Gutz is coming back,” Emma said. “We felt we had to have a second run just because of the success of the first performances. And the fact that David and the cast are local, it makes all the more special. “Having seen Gutz, it is an excellent piece of work. David wrote the storyline, the music and the script from scratch and you get the impression there is much more to come from him.”

The writer himself said he had been overwhelmed by the reaction to what was his debut piece of theatre. He said that he hoped to build on the momentum that has already built up around the musical. “I always thought it had potential but the reaction has been unbelievable,” David said.

“I was never a huge fan of being on stage, even in my days with the brass bands. But this is different, this is a completely different buzz from anything I have ever done. To have 30 or 40 people up there
singing songs that you have written, it’s an incredible experience. “I’m very excited that we have been asked to do it all again and who knows where it will go from here,” David said.

• Tickets for the next performances of
Gutz will go on sale in August. Check for updates.

Gutz had the audience on their feet…twice

gutznewspic3REVIEW BY CONOR SHARKEY – Strabane Chronicle

Musician David McGarrigle’s latest work ‘Gutz – The Musical’ had them on their feet twice at the Alley Theatre in Strabane last Thursday night and rightly so too. From the opening number to the final curtain, Gutz was a feast of great acting, impressive choreography and of course wonderfully colourful and catchy songs.

The story itself follows the journey of small town girl Casey Carson, played by the feisty Christina McBeth, as she leaves her small home town for the first time to pursue a career in the finance district of a major city. There she encounters a cocktail of characters – from the shallow and money driven to the sweet and innocent – but who all, in one way or another, shape who she is and what she wants. A number of topics, including greed, deceit, sexism, bullying and even marriage infidelity, are explored in this, Mc-Garrigle’s debut theatre piece.

Despite the weighty subject matter though, he has managed to pull it off through a sterling cast, energetic dance routines and again, the soaring vocals of a whole range of talented singers. Prior to opening night, the director described it as a “musical for the punter”. He was under-selling it when he said that and by some considerable distance too. McGarrigle is not just a great musician but also a writer with amazing imagination and vision. And this is a technicolour spectacular that will having you singing, cheering, booing, laughing and singing again. Gutz, ladies and gentlemen, is a triumph.

Strabane Has Gutz

Singer-songwriter David Oliver’s original play is a fast-paced musical about a group of young hopefuls attempting to make it in the New York business world

It takes a lot of guts to travel to New York and attempt to make it in the big bad world of business. Thankfully, composer David Oliver hasn’t had to try it himself, but it is a subject, nevertheless, that has inspired him to pen an entire new musical.

The Strabane singer-songwriter, who previously played the trumpet with The Drifters, toured Ireland with his band and wrote songs for musicals and shows, has now created his first original production.

Gutz is set for the Alley Theatre stage in Strabane from June 11, and featuring a 10-piece live band and a host of Oliver’s songs, it promises to be lively affair.

Set in the Big Apple, Gutz is described as ‘an explosive, highly-charged musical exploration of the seductive, hedonistic and deceptive nature of life in a metropolis’.

The characters in the story are ‘consumed with power, ambition and ego’, and ‘themes of love, harassment, infidelity and personal struggle intertwine to reveal a story reflective of the times we now live in’.

The story centres on Kit Carson, a young woman who moves to the city with ambitions of becoming a top business professional – but of course, not everything runs smoothly in the search for success…

‘It charts the life of a group of interns over the course of a year in New York City,’ says Oliver. ‘It’s about the trials and tribulations they encounter, about leaving home and facing all sorts of issues, although it’s not a traditional leaving home story per se.’

As a father of two daughters, having strong female characters in his work is something that is particularly important to Oliver, and Gutz has six.

Indeed, rather refreshingly for the world of showbiz, Oliver is keen to go against the cliché when it comes to casting women. They do more, after all, than just fall in love all the time, and are deserving of much meatier storylines.

‘A lot of scripts I’ve worked on in the past have been quite patronising, especially to women,’ Oliver reveals. ‘I have two daughters now. I also have three sisters and a wife. Generally speaking, I try to make women the leads in my shows. I’m very driven by women’s stories and the problems they encounter in life. For example, you still have the glass ceiling in the business world.’

There is also a reason why he chose New York for his setting, as opposed to somewhere closer to home.

‘America still has an allure for people. And the storyline revolves around the financial district, not quite Wall Street, but not a million miles away from it either, so it had to be in a big city. With the cosmopolitan feel of New York, you can also get away with a diverse bunch of songs.’

Indeed, Oliver has stuffed Gutz with all sorts of music. Having accumulated a healthy amount of songs over the years, he has subsequently used this material, along with some fresh new pieces, to create the show.

Oliver decided to write Gutz himself having realised that a lot of the scripts for many of the productions he had been commissioned to work on were good, but lacked that certain something. With this in mind, the composer determined to create his own show, using his songs as the building blocks for the story.

‘The last few shows I’ve worked on have been jukebox musicals,’ Oliver explains. ‘I found the scripts were okay, but they weren’t like the big musicals. I thought, if these are working, then why not give it a go, so I went through my own music.

‘A lot of my songs are from times in my life when key events occurred, so they’re songs with real meaning and heart and soul. Then I thought, I need a storyline. I had the music and I just built the script around it.’

This novel way of writing the production means that Gutz isn’t a traditional musical – the audience should expect more commercial-type songs. ‘Songs for the people in the street,’ as Oliver puts it.

As well as his recent theatre credits, Oliver – who studied music at Queen’s University and later acquired his PGCE – spent years writing for his own band, as well as for other artists, penning pop, rock and classical tunes.

Gutz is sure to pique the interest of many, therefore. For those keen on musical trivia, look out for the composer popping up on stage himself in the house band in a nightclub scene.

Although the production will enjoy its first ever run at the Alley Theatre in June, there is the potential, says Oliver, for adapting it for other venues, and also for schools.

Gutz runs is at the Alley Arts Centre, Strabane from June 11-13.


Gutzy new musical from Strabane’s David

By Erin Hutcheon Twitter: @erinhutcheon

A Strabane musician has penned his first ever musical which will premiere in the town next week. Well known musician David Oliver has written ‘Gutz’ which will run for three nights at the Alley Theatre next Thursday, Friday andSaturday.

“I had a lot of songs that I had built up over the years so I decided to put them together and make them into a musical,” he said. David McGarrigle, better known now by his middle name David Oliver, has set Gutz in the New York financial district. “Four interns are all vying for a start,” he said. “‘Gutz’ looks at several issues including the strife and struggles of working in the financial world.

“It’s all about life in New York City looking at harassment and gender issues.” David Oliver cut his teeth in the music industry, first as a trumpet player and later out playing with his own ten-piece band. “I did a lot of writing when out with the band,” he said. “So many songs had built up over the years. “I’m very happy with the musical. It’s going well. We’ve come a long way since I booked the theatre in February when the script was only half written. “But I think it wouldn’t matter if you had a year to prepare, you’d still be fighting the clock.”

Multi-tasking is something that David has had to get used to for this musical – writing and directing. “I’m very direct in how I’m presenting this,” said David. “It’s very pacey and has a lot of momentum. I think I’d describe it as edgy and gritty.” What David’s most pleased about with the musical is that it has very strong female roles. “A lot of shows I’ve seen such as Grease and Hairspray have very cliched roles,” he
said. “But the females in this show have rolls that are very ballsy.”

‘Gutz’ stars a number of local including Christina Mc- Beth and Vicki Templeton. David thanked the many people in Strabane who have supported the show. Don’t miss this original production from Thursday 11th – Saturday 13th June in the cabaret style Alley auditorium. This promises to be an explosion of dance, drama and music. Tickets are £7.50, £5 (con) available from the Alley on 028 71 384444 or online