P is for Peter


Book, Music and Lyrics by Peter Kennedy.  Orchestrations and Musical Arrangements by Mark Dougherty.




A MODERN MUSICAL                                    

 “Come the Dawn” is NOT an historic document, NOR a true story, despite being firmly rooted in the reality of the Ulster 'troubles' of the pre-Good Friday Agreement era!

        It is, rather, an artistic representation of the fears and nightmares that haunted the generations who grew up amid the turmoil. None of the events of the story actually took place, none of the characters have ever existed...EXCEPT, in the minds of thousands of ordinary people whose thoughts and imaginations couldn't help but be affected by the endless strands of propaganda that were the backbone of the political impasse.

        That the story is a work of fiction is irrelevant, because the fear that such a story, and such characters, COULD HAVE.....or could STILL exist, is VERY real, and very tragic!

        The Musical does not pretend to offer a solution to the troubles, but emphasises the drastic need for the process of reconciliation to be successful, for fear of sliding ever closer to the abyss.

        It recognises that both good AND evil exist on every side of the equation, and acknowledges that each groups aspirations are passionate, and valid, depending upon which side of the fence one is standing. It criticises and emphasises the futility of the route of violent aggression towards  achieving any goal, but it is abundant with a hope and a prayer for a brighter tomorrow!

“COME THE DAWN” - The Story.

              When R.U.C. Constable, John Thompson, comes to the rescue of Catholic girl, Carmel Gallagher, he is unaware of her close association with the I.R.A. The situation is inflamed by the fact that he saves her from molestation at the hands of his corrupt superior officer, Davy Sanders. Forced into hiding, John is 'sheltered' by IRA unit commander, Bernard Gallagher, who respects John's noble act of protecting the virtue of his younger sister.

             John's girlfriend, Lisa, is the daughter of an Orange Order Grand Master, Robert Wilson, who's wife died in an IRA car-bomb that was meant for him. Lisa's mother was also the object of the unwanted affections of Davy Sanders, a twist that becomes central to the progression of the story.

            When Sinn Fein representative, Seamus Farrell, gives the order for a temporary cease-fire, in order to accommodate the initiation of a talks process, extremist, Danny Quinn, rebels against authority and determines to carry on the policy of the bomb and the bullet. In so doing, he turns his back on the affections of his pacifist girlfriend, Catriona, who strikes up an empathetic friendship with John's girlfriend Lisa. Upon Lisa’s pleading, Catriona takes her to see John at the hide-out, but her visit is witnessed by Danny, who hatches a plan to strike a major blow for the republican cause. He releases John and tells him to take a simple message to Robert Wilson. In order to save his daughters life, he must give up his own!

            Aware of Sanders past collaboration with Bernard, Danny deems it a wise move to retain Sanders as an ally, and sends him the message that by holding Lisa as ransom, he can deliver John Thompson into his hands, thus killing two birds with one stone.

           If the central story concerns the RUC and the Republicans, the background is haunted by the ever-present face of the loyalist paramilitaries. Thanks to the perversion of the truth that they have learned from Sanders, they believe that John is in alliance with the IRA, and  their presence comes frighteningly to the fore, as the story reaches a climax! Amid a quagmire of destruction, it appears that the last man standing may the instigator of the whole web of tragedy, Davy Sanders!

            With insanity reigning, the dream of a better future lies in the hands of those who have lost all but hope, polar opposites, Robert Wilson and Seamus Farrell.

 “We can make it happen, we've got to make it happen,

   Create a new beginning that we can build upon.

   So the children of tomorrow, can live without the sorrow

   Of a past that's dead and gone,

   Come The Dawn!”


John Thompson   A Young RUC Officer. Tenor/Baritone.

Davy Sanders      A Corrupt RUC Inspector. Tenor/Baritone.

Maurice Emerson A nervous RUC Constable. Baritone.

Robert Wilson     An ‘Orange’ Grand Master. Lyrical Tenor.

Lisa Wilson         His pacifist Daughter. Soprano.

Jimmy Reid         Hot-headed Loyalist Paramilitary. Baritone.

Bernard Gallagher An IRA cell Commander. Baritone.

Carmel Gallagher His young sister. A Femme Fatale. Soprano.

Danny Quinn         Hot-headed IRA extremist. Tenor/Baritone.

Catriona Donaghy His pacifist girlfriend. Mezzo.

Frances O’Neill     Bernard’s militant girlfriend. Mezzo.

Seamus Farrell       Sinn Fein Official. Strong lyrical Tenor.

Lily Robinson        An outspoken Loyalist. Soprano.

Sadie Lavery             An outspoken Loyalist. Mezzo.

Reginald Dodson-Meade  A British Official. Tenor.


Several smaller roles.





At the Barricades.  A Tenement Flat.   A Unionist Pub.  Outside the Pub.  An IRA Hide-out.  Board-room of the RUC Station.





Much of the show is 'sung-through', incorporating large and frequent Choral passages.





Stylized movement for the Barricade riot scenes.  Lively Jig in the Pub Scene.  Tango for "Talks about Talks".   'Cabaret' style routine for "Political Cabaret".   Aggressive Irish dance for "Our Day Will Come".





Encore Theatre Company, Galway.    Ballinrobe Musical Society.





"The staging of a new Irish musical is a rare and wonderful occasion and I felt a certain  buzz and surge of excitement in Galway's Town Hall Theatre for Encore Theatre Company's powerful and overwhelming production of Peter Kennedy's new work COME THE DAWN. This premiere was a significant achievement in the precarious business of musical theatre. Set in a pre-Good Friday Agreement Belfast, it explodes onto the stage with a riot of music and exciting lyrics. "  Arts Review. Munster Express. 2006.

" This production was an outstanding example of what Irish musical theatre can deliver. Ballinrobe have once again laid down the marker and brought a new reality to musical productions."  Munster Express. 2011.


The 2006 workshop Production by Encore Theatre Company recieved 6 Nominations from the Association of Irish Musical Societies, including Best Overall Show.

The 2011 Ballinrobe Production has been Nominated again for Best Overall Show, and for two further awards.

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