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I, Keano still has fans in raptures

ARGUMENTS can be costly but Keano has always bucked the trend.

His infamous Saipan row has spawned one of the most successful moneyspinning Irish musicals of all time. Billed as A Comedy of Epic Proportions, it has generated equally epic earnings: ticket sales in excess of €10 million since it first swept the boards in 2005.

Gladatorial, glib and just a tad gay, it has played to packed houses every since it kicked off at the Olympia, to where it now returns.

Previous tours of the production have seen it play to more than 500,000.

A tragedy in togas, it is an allegory of the World Cup bust-up between Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy. In Roman times, an ancient federation sends a legion, led by the stubborn General Macartacus, to an island to prepare for war. Their greatest warrior, Keano, has a passion for perfection surpassed only by his fierce and unpredictable temper. The problems start when Keano arrives to prepare for battle: the ground is too hard, the troops are running amok and the Federation has forgotten battle garb.

The new production of I, Keano, which runs at the Olympia until February 24, is larger in scale than the original. It has a new director and cast, and has been re-worked to update the show and involve more song and dance numbers.

"I’ve worked with the writers of the show, Arthur Matthews, Michael Nugent and Paul Woodfull, to make sure this new production of I, Keano does not seem dated," explains Terry Byrne, who has taken over from Peter Sheridan as director.

"The chronology of the play and the basic plot line remain the same, but we’ve worked in references to a lot of things that have happened to the characters in their real lives since Saipan.

"There’s one incident, for instance, where Keane swears he will never work with Quinn again, but of course, he has done."

The new production also has a brand new layout and design and a number of new actors have joined the cast, including Jamie Beamish in the lead role.

After the Olympia, I, Keano will tour eight different venues in 10 weeks.

"No matter how many people have seen it already, there seems to be no end of demand for it," said Byrne.

I, Keano runs at the INEC, Gleneagle, Killarney from March 12-16; Leisureland, Galway from March 20-25; TF Theatre Royal, Castlebar from March 28-31, Dun Mhuire, Wexford from April 3-7; the Opera House, Cork from April 10-21; the Waterfront Hall, Belfast from April 23-25; the Millennium Centre, Derry from April 30-May 5, and the UL Concert Hall, Limerick from May 8-12.