Druid Theatre’s much anticipated production of Billy Roche’s play The Cavalcaders at the National Opera House on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 21 and 22 is not short on Wexford actors with three men from the county appearing in the play.
orey-born Garrett Lombard who has featured in several Druid productions has the lead role in the classic play alongside Naoise Dunbar, from outside Enniscorthy and Tiernan Messitt- Greene of Wexford town who are both making their Druid debut.
The play which was originally commissioned by the Abbey Theatre over 30 years ago is getting the special Druid treatment under the direction of Aaron Monaghan.
The production has received very favourable reviews from theatre critics with the Guardian writing: “Beautifully performed, the songs composed by Roche, are integral to this drama” and “In a compelling performance, Lombard succeeds in making this complicated, cruel but charming man sympathetic.” The Irish Times described it as “a resolutely feel good drama” which will “have you singing … all the way home”.
The Cavalcaders is a comic and tender portrait of life in small-town, pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland and the men who lived there. It takes the audience on a journey back in time to the 1990s, to heartache,companionship and the redemptive power of song.
Terry (Lombard) and his friends Josie, Rory (Dunbar) and Ted (Messitt-Greene) spend their days as cobblers and their nights as The Cavalcaders, a barbershop quartet of local renown. But life has taken its toll on Terry and past betrayals cast long shadows.
Seasoned actor Lombard whose career began with Gorey Little Theatre Group at the age of seven, studied acting in Trinity College and has many stage as well as film and TV credits to his name including Looks Like Rain, Quirke, Rough Diamond, Fair City, Love Is the Drug, Pure Mule, Alexander, Frontline and Stella Days.
He is the son of Garry Lombard who has had a lifelong association with Gorey Little Theatre Group, having been involved in over 100 productions and won All-Ireland drama awards.
Naoise Dunbar’s parents Michael and Annette are also heavily involved in amateur drama and their son’s first time on stage was in The Field at the age of five.
Naoise played a lot of sport as a teenager but became more involved in theatre after injuring himself playing rugby. He graduated from UCD with a BA in English and History and a Masters in Modern Irish and was a member of UCD Musical Society and Drama Society during his years in college.
He took a year out and performed in amateur theatre locally with Garry Lombard’s parents. He went on to train as an actor in the Lir Academy of Dramatic Art at Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in 2020 just as the pandemic took hold.
His theatre credits include Outrage, Duck, Duck, Goose, (Fishamble); The Last Stand, Teddy, Forgive Me Father, Pigs 3 Wolf 1, The Unkillable Irishman (Wexford Arts Centre); 14 Voices from the Bloodied Field, The Great Hunger (Abbey Theatre) and his film and TV credits include Baths.
Coincidentally, his dad acted in two amateur productions of The Cavalcaders, once as Josie and later as Terry.
Former Selskar College student Tiernan Messitt-Greene started drama classes with Red Moon Theatre and Olga Conway’s Discovering Drama at the age of eight and joined County Wexford Youth Theatre run by Tony McCleane-Fay when he was 11, remaining on as a member until he was 18. He credits Tony with recognising his talent and helping him to develop as an actor during his teenage years.
His mother Sharon tried him out in various sporting clubs but he had no interest and when she saw him one day blowing a dandelion on the side of a pitch, she thought something creative might suit him better.
Now aged 24, he studied acting at the prestigious Lir Academy, where he was a classmate of Alex Murphy of Young Offenders fame, graduating with a first class honours BA degree in 2019. He worked with Jane Seymour on the TV series Harry Wilde and Allen Leech in As Luck would Have it. Theatre credits include The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Four Rivers Theatre Company and Theatre Royal, Waterford) and Asking for It (Landmark Productions).
His dad Fran is a visual artist and musician and Naoise reckons he inherited some of his creativity.
The all-singing cast also includes Amelia Crowley, Sean Kearns and Éilish McLaughlin.
In another Wexford connection, it was Druid co-founder Garry Hynes, sibling of the late Wexford Festival Opera chief executive Jerome Hynes who commissioned the play for the Abbey Theatre back in 1991.