Ballybofey daughter takes over from mother – 29 years later

Ellie (Gretl) with her mother Andrea McLaughlin.

Ellie (Gretl) with her mother Andrea McLaughlin.

ON A cold night in January the Balor was full to the brim of people hoping to take part in The Sound of Music. Seven children’s parts were up for grabs and the competition was fierce.

Just as everyone was about to head for home, Ballybofey woman Andrea McLaughlin made her way down to the front of the theatre towards the director Kieran Quinn.
Andrea said to Kieran that she was delighted that her daughter got a part. “Which part was that?” asked Kieran. Andrea told him that it was the same part she played 29 years earlier.


No one involved in the auditions had any idea that the very same person that played Gretl all those years ago was now the mother of Gretl in this new production.
In 1985 Andrea Breen (now McLaughlin) was sitting in the audience as she watched her cousin Eileen playing Brigitta in The Sound of Music.

She knew all the songs by heart and nearly all of the lines, it was just as well. Rachael Diver who was playing the part of Gretl fell ill and someone was needed to take over her role.

Up stepped Andrea and with a few days rehearsal she did not disappoint.
Now it is the turn of Andrea’s daughter Ellie (8) to take over the limelight in the role of Gretl in Balor Rep’s production of The Sound of Music.

Twenty-nine years after it was first performed in Ballybofey, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s famous musical returns to the Balor stage for what promises to be a spectacular event.

Audiences will revel in the glorious sounds of iconic melodies like My Favourite Things, Edelweiss, Do-Ray-Me and many more.
Originally a Broadway musical, then a much loved 5-time Oscar winning film, The Sound Of Music is among the most celebrated shows in musical theatre.

This production featuring a cast of over 20 talented locals under the direction of Kieran Quinn is guaranteed to be a great night’s fun and musical entertainment.

The Sound Of Music runs from Wednesday, April 23 to Saturday, May 3 at The Balor Arts Centre Ballybofey at 8pm nightly. Admission is €15 (€10 concession) with a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) available for €40. To book contact The Balor Box Office on 0749131840 or book online at


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