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Tour Memories #11 - Lisnavagh House

Well, here we are. We would have arrived in Ireland yesterday, and today would mark our first 2020 show of the Irish leg of our tour. As the cast spend 24 hours a day with one another for the full duration of this part of the tour, you can probably safely expect the memories to ramp up a bit over the coming days.

Lisnavagh House is, with no hint of exaggeration, one of OTG's favourite places on the planet. The audience we have there is consistently fantastic and incredibly supportive. The venue owners are truly one-of-a-kind, in both their generosity and their hospitality. The nights we spend there post-show are legendary. Find out a little bit more of what's gone on in previous years below:

Andy B - Swing in the Willows

"An amazing venue set amidst gorgeous scenery and one of the favoured playing fields for the Off the Ground Invitational XI cricket team to get their yearly knock about.

The welcome at Lisnavagh is as warm as the Irish coffees that were served at the interval. Only cast members who weren’t doing any sword fighting or dangerous hijinks in the second act could have one. The welcome continued after the performance where friends and family of the house joined the cast for singing and stories until the wee small hours before heading back to the tents.

Swing In The Willows tour, 2003, was a real stand out show from the years. As a retelling of Wind In The Willows with swing and jazz music, a lot of the cast got to wear suits and dress like 1920s gangsters so not only did we all feel sharp we also, and arguably more importantly when you’re doing outdoor theatre, would be dry and warm should the weather turn nasty. While indulging in my half time Irish coffee (playing Ratty, there was no sword play for me, hurrah!) we got chatting to an audience member who mentioned he’d travelled to the evening’s performance in an automobile Mr Toad himself would have been happy to own. Sure enough, parked in front of the house was the most beautiful classic car you could imagine. After patiently letting most of the cast get a picture in the driver’s seat, the chap very kindly asked if we’d like the car to feature in the show. Taking no convincing at all we agreed and several of us were lucky enough to pile into the car for the show’s final musical number, speeding down the carriage sweep with Daniel G crooning his heart out on the microphone before spilling onto the stage to mark one of the coolest entrances you could imagine.

Later that evening, Jon and I were last ones up and enjoying a final tot of whiskey and the display the stars were putting on. Our host, William, suddenly appears and asks to join us. After sharing our drink William insists we share some of his and runs round to the front of the house and out of sight. 20 minutes later we were wondering where he’s got to when suddenly one of the ground floor windows shoots up and William clambers his way out, navigating successfully through a flower bed, while holding a decanter of the good stuff in one hand and three glasses with ice in the other. Didn’t spill a drop. Legend!"

Connor W - Various

"The shows are just fantastic, whether we are in a wedding marquee because of the rain or out on the pristine lawn in front of a great crowd.

The music after the show is where I first met Colm, and first truly fell in love with Irish music."

Jordan C - A Midsummer Night's Dream

"Ahhh yes, going to sleep then getting back up to sing 2 songs, one of them being Forever Autumn. Made a few tears, but that's why I love Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds. And what a crowd for the show too."

Daniel G - Various

"I have many lovely memories of the Irish tour venues from back in the day…

I always really looked forward to the shows at Lisnavagh House because they welcomed us so warmly, and because the audience was so full and friendly. We’d start the day by pitching tents and setting up the stage, then a game of cricket on the lawn (if it was dry enough). I think we only ever got rained off once at Lisnavagh in my time, leading to a bizarre Cyrano de Bergerac in the library with hastily re-choregraphed and severely curtailed sword fights! Best of all about Lisnavagh were the after-show parties in the barn. We’d sit in around with a drink, a fire and Colm with assorted small instruments, whiling away the evening with the Noble Call - lots of singing; Chris M’s stand-up; occasional poetry and maybe a bit of dancing. On one occasion we drifted into a beautiful moment of melancholy and self-reflection as Colm played a very sweet air on his whistle. As he played softly and hardened tourers wept into their vino, Andy and I, mis-reading the tone completely, snuck away and stripped off behind the van. As the last lovely notes faded and the company sighed, the aching beauty of the tune heavy on their hearts, Andy and I scampered into view and ruined the moment completely by performing what can only be described as a Gangly Jig.

In that same barn on a different occasion a more traumatic event is also rooted in my memory. The barn was originally used for repairing farm vehicles and was fitted with a repair pit and a false wooden floor. We were dancing, I think. Or playing a stupid drama game. Either of those two acts of enforced organised fun would have made me cross and I can’t remember which it was, only the fact that I was grumpy. As if sensing my mood the barn then conspired to compound my misery with injury and humiliation. As we danced or jumped or whatever it was we were doing the wooden floor gave way and I dropped into the pit below. I managed to catch myself, keeping one foot on the side and grabbing the edges with my hands. It was pretty terrifying for a moment, I pulled a muscle in my groin, and looked up at the rest of the cast, their faces set in a picture of shock and concern...for about 3 seconds, before breaking into uncontrollable laughter."

Tomo - Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow of Doom

"Lisnavagh for me, as I'm sure for many OTG tourers, is an absolute high light. For many reasons, great audiences, fantastic late nights round the fire, Stew's