Home / Courses / COURSE B 2019: Stagecraft And The Spoken Word – Tony Finnegan and Vivian Coates

COURSE B 2019: Stagecraft And The Spoken Word – Tony Finnegan and Vivian Coates

Tony and Vivian are probably the busiest directors in Ireland. As a team they are highly entertaining and work a lot together in their musical theatre company, Festival Productions, Dublin – a company based in The National Concert Hall.

They will bring students on a journey through the spoken word; exploring accent, intonation, colour, phrasing and the use of pause and silence as well as stagecraft; to include audition technique, acting technically yet naturally and how to prepare for a role.

This will be a laugh a minute, yet very informative, module that will keep the participants busy, stimulated and informed.In a week where fun and knowledge go hand in glove, Tony and Vivian will impart as Much information as they possibly can on varied and interesting theatrical subjects. The series of workshops will be structured and well prepared; but both tutors know that they must be open to venturing down paths that were not within the original remit. The work will be done on a practical basis to include all participants. Tony and Vivian are two of the most organized production team members on the circuit, but both are highly entertaining and social animals! It should be a laugh a minute as these two guys take you on a journey through the pitfalls and high-octane euphoria that we in the theatre world are happy to embrace.


Tony, a graduate from The Guildford School of Acting and Dance, is lucky enough to able to split his time between acting and directing in equal measure and considers himself fortunate to work in some of the loveliest theatre venues.

These include The National Concert Hall (Dublin), The Gaiety Theatre (Dublin and The Isle of Man), Landskrona Theatre (Sweden), The Waterfront Theatre, (Belfast) and Opera Houses in Belfast, Wexford and Buxton. 

In 2014 Tony was the creative director for two “TV Specials” filmed by the BBC for PBS America. These specials were recorded live from The Grand Opera House, Belfast and featured performances from Eamonn McCrystal, Brian Kennedy, Rachel Tucker (Wicked – Elphaba in the West End and on Broadway), May McFettridge and The Getty’s. The show was produced by Randy Travis’ wife, Elizabeth Travis. The Christmas Special was aired on BBC and the other one-hour special is currently playing to 300 million viewers in the USA.  

Tony is very proud of the fact that one of the above TV Specials (The Music of Northern Ireland) won 4 Emmy’s in the 2015 awards ceremony in the USA.  

He is co-director of Festival Productions which produces quality musicals in the National Concert Hall, Dublin and the newly appointed Wexford Opera House.  

For Festival Productions Tony has played The King in The King and I, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Professor Henry Higgins’ in My Fair Lady and King Arthur in Camelot, to great acclaim. He has also directed Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, Annie, Bugsy Malone and The Pirates of Penzance for the company. 

Tony specialises in workshops and is considered Ireland’s foremost director in working with children and young adults. For the last 5 years, he has been the director of the Grand Opera House’s Summer Project. This year he directed The Wizard of Oz! for the opera house; and had the usual 200 kids in the show! Two weeks he treasures in his yearly calendar.  

In 2016 he directed Bugsy Malone with 118 children in the National Concert Hall, Dublin and last year directed Annie with a more manageable 64 girls!  

His favourite acting roles include Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, The Major-General in same show (National Concert Hall, Dublin and the Opera House in Buxton), Pooh Bah in The Mikado (National Concert Hall, Dublin and the Opera House in Buxton), Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof (Gaiety Theatre, Dublin), Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (National Concert Hall, Dublin and the Grand Opera House in Belfast), Fagin Oliver!  (National Concert Hall, Dublin) and Daddy Warbucks Annie (National Concert Hall, Dublin) 

In 2017 he directed a highly acclaimed production of The Producers in The Gaiety Theatre in the Isle of Man and followed it this year with Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5.  

Recently Tony has been asked to adjudicate drama and musical festivals. He has adjudicated the Waterford International Festival and had a very successful trip to Buxton; adjudicating the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival. In 2013 he returned to the Festival in Buxton performing in The Mikado (Pooh Bah) for Lyric Opera Productions, Dublin. Tony has been associated with winning the G and S Festival four years in a row – performing in all four winning shows and co-producing the 3 Festival Productions, Dublin shows and directing the winning Pirates of Penzance for New Lyric Opera Company in the 4th year.  

In 2015 and 2016 Tony adjudicated the Carrick On Suir Music Theatre Festival.  

In November 2017 he made his debut in Ireland’s National Theatre – The Abbey – directing FLYNN – a world premiere – in The Peacock Theatre.  

He has just finished starring in The Pirates of Penzance (The Major general) in The National Concert Hall, Dublin. 

This summer Tony was thrilled to adjudicate the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Harrogate – in the Festival’s 25th year. 

His next acting role will be The Lion in Festival Productions’ The Wizard of Oz in The National Concert Hall.  

Amongst the shows in 2019 that Tony will direct are Spamalot on the Isle of Man, Urinetown, The Wizard of Oz and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in southern Ireland and Miss Saigon and Bugsy Malone in the glorious Grand Opera House in Belfast.   


Returning from abroad having worked in most of the opera companies in the UK, Vivian Coates has spent much of his career in Ireland nurturing young Irish talent on stage and guiding them on their first professional rung of the ladder. He has presented countless fully staged operas in Ireland through his company Lyric Opera and is recognised for the tireless work he has done in keeping core opera alive in this city.

He is privileged to work across opera and musical theatre, directing and designing in most of the main theatres in Ireland; The Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, The Grand Opera House, Belfast, The National Opera House, Wexford and the National Concert Hall, Dublin. Opera productions include Aida, Il Trovatore, Don Giovanni, Hansel und Gretel, I Due Foscari, La Traviata,  Carmen, Nabucco, Macbeth, La Bohéme. Turandot, Suor Angelica, The Turn of the Screw, Rusalka, Cavalleria Rusticana, Madama Butterfly and Attila among others. His musical theatre credits include Annie, The Sound of Music, Oliver! Fiddler on the Roof, Carousel, 9 to 5, Camelot and many more.

Mr Coates has received many international accolades for his work. In 2007 he was honoured with a Knighthood and title of Cavaliere by the Italian Government for his work in presenting Italian opera in Ireland. In 2015 he designed for The Music of Northern Ireland, which received 4 EMMY’S in the 2016 roll of honour. His recent productions with the 2018 International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Harrogate UK played to extraordinary acclaim, garnering five star reviews in The Stage & The Daily Mail. Recent productions include Sweeney Todd (The National Opera House, Ireland), La Traviata (NCH) and Carmen (NCH), Last Christmas he directed the family favourite The Wizard of Oz at the NCH.