Following its critically acclaimed sell out run in 2019, Ruby! by Little Willow Productions about Belfast singing star Ruby Murray will return to Lyric Theatre 11-16 February followed by a countrywide tour. Written by Michael Cameron and starring Libby Smyth as Ruby Murray, Ruby! is an intimate, fact based one woman performance which celebrates Ruby’s life, music, triumphs as well as exploring the darker side of her story.
Born in Belfast and raised from humble beginnings on the Donegall Road singing star Ruby Murray went on to become a huge star. Topping the bill at the London Palladium in the 1950s she remains the only artist in history to have five records in the UK top twenty in the same week. However, with major cultural shifts in the sixties coupled with poor management, difficulties in her personal life and an increased dependence on alcohol Ruby’s career was relatively short lived. She died in 1996 at the age of 61.
Former civil servant turned writer Michael Cameron was inspired to write Ruby! his debut play, when he saw a painting of Ruby Murray by local artist Christine Trueman at a pop-up gallery in Belfast’s Corn Market. The passing of a mutual friend brought artist and writer in contact which spurred Michael to research Ruby’s life. The play was developed with access and support from Ruby’s immediate family including her first husband Bernie Burgess, their son Tim Murray as well as creative support from, the late, well-known writer, director and actor Sam McCready.
Ruby! is a one woman show starring Libby Smyth, one of Northern Ireland’s best known and most versatile actresses. Audiences and critics alike have acclaimed Libby Smyth for her performance as Ruby! Audience feedback includes ‘what a moving performance by Libby Smyth, just felt like I was sitting listening to Ruby in her living room…very moving story.’
Writer Michael Cameron, from Little Willow Productions, commented:
“We are delighted to return to the Lyric and theatres across Ireland with Ruby! Audiences and critics enjoyed discovering things about her life that they didn’t previously know as well as being captivated by Libby Smyth’s fantastic performance. We are honoured to return to the Lyric as part of a programme to celebrate the life and work of Sam McCready. Sam played an important role in the development of Ruby! his input played a part in the success it has achieved. This new production of the show will be directed by Colm G. Doran, it will be a slightly longer show, featuring new material and some additional set design. We can’t wait to bring the show to theatres in 2020.”
Looking forward to reviving her role as Ruby! actress Libby Smyth added:
“It’s been a privilege for me to bring Ruby’s story to a wider audience and also to meet her family and hear their stories at first hand. I’ve loved seeing the responses of audiences as they hear Ruby’s story unfold. It’s a wonderful part to play as an actress as Ruby’s life story covers a range of emotional episodes, some of which are quite dark and upsetting. I’m very excited to be bringing her back to the stage in 2020.”
Ruby! Will be performed as part of a celebration of the Life of Sam McCready at Lyric Theatre 11 – 16 Feb. Ruby! tour dates are: 23 January – Marketplace Theatre, Armagh, 20 February – Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry, 22 February – Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen, 28 February – Theatre At The Mill, Newtownabbey, 13 March – Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick, 20 March – Riverside Theatre, Coleraine, 28 March – Portico Arts Centre, Portaferry, 3 April – Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, 4 April – The Playhouse, Derry, 9 May – An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny, 22 May – Seamus Heaney Homeplace, Bellaghy. For tour bookings visit venue websites or visit Little Willow Productions on Facebook or Twitter.