Irish composer in running for Tony after Broadway success

The brooding sound design of a play about the Virgin Mary is tipped to win an Irishman a Tony after earning him a prestigious award in New York.

Mel Mercier won the prize at the New York Drama Desk Awards on Sunday for his work on Colm Tóibín’s play, The Testament of Mary. The awards recognise shows on and off Broadway, with the one-woman show fronted by Cork-born actress Fiona Shaw nominated in the sound design category.

The head of UCC’s school of music and theatre, Mercier is also in the running for the more prestigious Tony Awards on Jun 9, where Tóibín’s play is shortlisted in three categories. The Tonys are open only to Broadway productions and are considered the Oscars of the theatre world.

The Testament of Mary is the mother of Christ’s telling of her son’s crucifixion and is one of four productions nominated for Best Play at the Tonys. US-born Jennifer Tipton is also in the running for her lighting design of the show.

Mercier was composer and sound designer for the production at Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre. He teaches Irish, African, Indian, and Indonesian music at UCC, where he is a senior lecturer in music.

Mercier and Shaw have both signed up for another US theatre project in the one-woman show Rime of the Ancient Mariner, due to run in December.

Cork actor Cillian Murphy picked up a New York Drama Desk Award for his role in Enda Walsh’s Misterman a year ago. Walsh is to be conferred with an honorary degree by NUI Galway next month.


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