Director Séimí Campbell at an event in An Grianan Theatre. The Donegal man made his West End directing debut at the weekend
A young Donegal Town man who has been instrumental in helping others on the path to success is himself now living his own dream.
Director Séimí Campbell made his debut at one of the most famous theatres in the world, the London Palladium owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Furthermore, Mr Campbell had the honour of directing the show that marked the Palladium’s return to live audiences.
The Donegal Town director took the helm for Jason Robert Brown’s Songs For A New World. It was presented in two live shows last Sunday. The show had a stellar cast of David Hunter (Waitress), Rachel John (Hamilton), Rachel Tucker (Come From Away), Cedric Neal (Back to the Future) and Shem Omari James.
Songs For A New World is very close to the heart of Mr Campbell, who directed a live digital presentation of the same show during lockdown.
He told the Donegal Post: “It’s not often that you get to direct a piece and a cast that you care so much about, in your favourite theatre in the world.”
The London Palladium has been a part of Mr Campbell’s musical theatre journey from the beginning.
“The first West End musical that I saw was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 18 years ago in The London Palladium. Never did I think that I’d make my West End debut on that same stage - with such an outstanding cast, and as the first musical back in the West End since March.”
The performance was very well received by the delighted live audience, with a standing ovation for the cast.
“I’ve never experienced an audience reaction like it,” said Mr Campbell. “Yes - cheers for our outstanding cast - but also, cheers for a safe return to theatre.”
As the first performance unfolded, the Donegal Town man found himself increasingly moved by this thought-provoking show.
“For me, the central message of Jason Robert Brown’s piece - the need for unity and togetherness in times of crises - was truly personal - and proved that anything is possible when you’re surrounded with and supported by good people,” he said.
“I couldn’t stop thinking of my own family during our opening show, and how much they would have loved to have been there. They are the reason I am doing what I’m doing - and I’m forever grateful for all their support, and encouragement through the years.
“One of my favourite lyrics in the show was stuck in my head all day Sunday:
‘I looked up, and all that I could think of
Was the life I had dreamt I would live.’
There has been huge pride and support for Mr Campbell from everyone who has seen his star rising over the last few years. He founded Donegal Youth Musical Theatre along with a team of talented and dedicated creatives, giving hundreds of young people a proper theatre experience with masterclasses from top industry professionals. DYMT’s productions pushed cast and audiences beyond the comfort zone of familiar musical theatre. The shows were thought-provoking and unforgettable for all the right reasons, getting right under the skin of those fortunate enough to experience them.
As DYMT’s reputation grew, it attracted potential future stars from all over Ireland who wanted to be part of the youth theatre company.
This led Mr Campbell - who recently completed an MA in the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London - to establish the Irish Youth Musical Theatre (IYMT).
It will certainly be interesting to see what lies ahead.
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