Eve McCourt

Athlone's Eve sparkles on stage in Ballinasloe

Nine-year old Eve McCourt was the toast of her school last week after she made a sparkling debut on stage in the centenary production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic musical, “The Sound of Music” in Ballinasloe.

Despite her tender years and her lack of acting experience, the natural musical talent of the Athlone youngster shone through when she was chosen to play the part of Martha, one of the seven Von Trapp children, in the iconic musical which played to rave reviews in the Town Hall Theatre Ballinasloe at the end of last month.

A 3rd class pupil in the small rural Newtown national school, about four miles from Ballinasloe, where her mother, Leona, is also a teacher, Eve has been “on cloud nine” since making her musical debut, according to her proud mother.

Athlone’s Eve McCourt pictured on stage in a scene from Ballinalsoe Musical Society’s production of “The Sound of Music”

Eve is the eldest of Stephen and Leona McCourt's three children, and the family lives in Auburn Villas in Athlone. In recent times she has been attending the Mary Whelan Fox School of Speech and Drama, having originally been enrolled in ballet lessons until Covid intervened. “She has had no real stage school experience,” says Leona, “but she was always mad about singing and we go to all the musicals.”

When Leona saw auditions being advertised last October for children's parts in the 'Sound of Music' in Ballinasloe she decided to bring along Eve and her younger sister, Jane (6). ”About 70 or 80 children auditioned initially, and Eve made it to the final seven and was picked to play the second youngest of the Von Trapp family, Martha.

“She was just overjoyed to be picked from such a big pool of talent,” says Leona, “and the reaction to her performance on stage was just overwhelming, we still can't believe all the cards she got from people sending their congratulations and good wishes, and all the gifts she received, it has been a wonderful experience.”

Even though it was an unforgettable experience treading the boards with the talented members of the Ballinasloe Musical Society for their centenary production, it was also “very tiring” for Eve McCourt, according to her mum. “The show ran from Wednesday to Saturday, March 22 to 26, and they had two performances on the Saturday, so even though Eve was on a high after it all she was also very, very tired,” says Leona.

“She just loved every second of her time on stage and we are all very proud of her,” says Leona, adding that her little sister, Jane, and 7-year old brother, Michael, and of course her proud Dad, Stephen, were her “biggest fans” throughout the show. “She really has a natural talent for the stage, and a beautiful singing voice, so we are exploring the options now in terms of maybe enrolling her in a stage school” says Leona.

Now that she has caught the performance bug, little Eve McCourt will get a chance to reprise her role as Martha Von Trapp when Ballinasloe Musical Society take to the stage once again in October for a special centenary concert which will feature excerpts from many of their musical productions over the past 100 years, including their centenary production of 'The Sound of Music.'