Preview: The Shaughraun, Albery Theatre, London

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The Independent Culture

The director John McColgan, and his producer and wife Moya Doherty, are best known for the Riverdance musical extravaganza.

The director John McColgan, and his producer and wife Moya Doherty, are best known for the Riverdance musical extravaganza. Little did they know, when they first met, that they would go on to create a show that would have been seen, 10 years later, by more than 18 million people worldwide in more than 8,000 performances across 30 countries. First seen as the interval act of the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin in 1994, it was turned into a stage show that premiered at Dublin's Point Theatre in 1995.

Now McColgan and Doherty are bringing The Shaughraun - a late-19th-century melodrama by Dion Boucicault - to the West End. This production opened at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in May 2004. The last time The Shaughraun was performed in London was the 1988 National Theatre production starring Stephen Rea.

How is it working in a husband and wife team? "We have managed very well for 10 years," says McColgan. "Inevitably there are stresses and strains, but I think it has made our relationship closer. I trust [Doherty's judgement] implicitly, so it is a good partnership."

The Shaughraun is a rollicking, over-the-top comedy musical, with a large cast of 30 - some ex-Riverdance - singers and dancers in colourful costume, and a band of four accompanied by rotating scenery and pyrotechnics - not to mention Tatters, the show's lovable dog. "It has the production values of a big musical," says McColgan.

It doesn't seem to have tired the team out: they already have new projects in the pipeline. Along with the writer and composer of Les Misérables, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, they are now working on a major new musical, The Pirate Queen, about a 16th-century Irish female pirate, Grace O'Malley. Then there's Magick Macabre, a horror stage show that will be produced in collaboration with Wes Craven.

'The Shaughraun', Albery Theatre, London WC2 (0870 060 6621), to 24 September

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