TWENTY years after The Stars from The Commitments formed, Kenneth McCluskey said he is enjoying the music from the famous 1991 film more than ever. The nine piece band are touring the country and are coming to the Wycombe Swan this month.
Ken starred as Derek "Meatman" Scully in the Alan Parker movie and as with most of the actors and musicians in the film, was relatively unknown.
Following the success of the film, he set up a band with Dick Massey who played Billy Mooney. And they are continuing to entertain crowds with hits such as Mustang Sally, Take Me to The River and Hard to Handle more than 20 years afterwards.
Ken, who is based in Dublin, said: "The film was made in 1990 and released in 1991- more than 20 years ago.
"It is amazing as it is still very popular. It is current, which is great.
"We get to do what we enjoy- let's keep it going."
As well as performing hits from the film, they also perform other songs and Ken said it very much has the feel good factor.
He said: "You think, when I am 40 I don't want to be still playing that same stuff. By the time you get to that age you love playing that stuff and you want to keep playing it."
The Commitments is a comedy-drama film adaptation of the novel The Commitments by Roddy Doyle.
It tells a story of working class Dubliners who form a soul band.
Ken said: "It was a brilliant time. We were in our early 20s. Alan Parker came and said he was making a film.
"Just to be involved in the whole production side and work with those people- it was so professional.
"Getting to work with those people was just a brilliant opportunity to learn how the films were made.
"Prior to that, like most people, you are watching a movie- you enjoy it and that is it.
"To get in and see how the mechanics of it works and how it is all made- it is a great education."
He went to drama clubs and classes when he was growing up, but this was his first big hit.
He said: "I used to kind of pinch myself. Is this a dream? This isn't real. What am I doing in a movie?"
It remains popular today and last year a musical version of the film, The Commitments, started in the West End.
And although he has not yet got to see the musical, he said the music does the talking as they are such great songs.
Soon after the film he won a scholarship to study acting at the famous Lee Strasberg School of Acting in New York City, also know as the Actors Studio. While in NYC he performed in several plays and independent movies, before returning to Dublin to form The Stars From The Commitments.
As not all the band members from the film wanted to take part, they opted for the slightly different name to the film.
The line up has changed over the years, but Dick and Ken have remained constant. The other band members are Ronan Dooney on the trumpet, Myles Hyland lead vocals, Sandra Hyland and Antoinette Dunleavy backing vocals, Andreas Nolan on bass guitar, Serge Stavila on saxophone and Abraham Hampton on the keyboard and organ.
He said: "It is very much like the band and the audience become one really.
"We generally feel we are part of the whole night and the atmosphere.
"I actually get a better buzz. When we started back out doing The Stars from the Commitments we were a lot younger- 20 years ago.
"I was in the apprehensive years- where is my career going to go?
"In your early 20s you are driven differently. When you reach my age you are there because you enjoy it."
After The Commitments he got a part in the Tom Cruise film Far And Away.
He said: "I met Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. They were very nice. They invited The Commitments to dinner as they knew the people who cast The Commitments.
"A good few of them were away and it just never materialised.
"We are some of the only people who can say we were invited to dinner with Tom Cruise and didn't turn up."
The Stars from the Commitments are at the Wycombe Swan on July 19 at 7.30pm. Tickets are £20, with a £1.50 booking fee. Call 01494 512000 or go to www.wycombeswan.co.uk.
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