Michael John McCarthy
Michael John is a Cork-born, Glasgow-based composer, musician & sound designer.
Current and future projects include: THE DUCHESS (OF MALFI) (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh); THE CHEVIOT, THE STAG & THE BLACK, BLACK OIL (National Theatre of Scotland).
Theatre/Dance credits include: NORA (Citizen’s Theatre); GASLIGHT, MISS JULIE (Horsecross Arts); LETTERS TO EUROPE, HOGMANY (Underbelly); ULSTER AMERICAN, WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF, GUT, HOW TO DISAPPEAR (Traverse Theatre); JIMMY’S HALL (Abbey Theatre, Dublin); FAT BOY, SWIM (Edinburgh International Book Festival); THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER, THE WEIR, BONDAGERS (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh); MARK THOMAS: SHOWTIME FROM THE FRONTLINE (UK Tour); LIKE ANIMALS, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (SORT OF), CEILIDH, THE LONESOME WEST, UNDER MILK WOOD (Tron Theatre);SPACE APE (Red Bridge Arts); TRAINSPOTTING (Citizens Glasgow and King’s Edinburgh); FUTUREPROOF (Cork Everyman); GLORY ON EARTH, A NUMBER (Edinburgh Lyceum); ROCKET POST, IN TIME O’ STRIFE, BLABBERMOUTH, THE TIN FOREST, THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH, TRUANT,99…100, DOLLS (National Theatre of Scotland); THE GORBALS VAMPIRE, RAPUNZEL, INTO THAT DARKNESS, FEVER DREAM: SOUTHSIDE & SPORTS DAY (Citizens Theatre); AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, GEORGE'S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE, THE CHEVIOT, THE STAG & THE BLACK, BLACK OIL, THE BFG & STEEL MAGNOLIAS (Dundee Rep) LIGHT BOXES, LETTERS HOME: ENGLAND IN A PINK BLOUSE, THE AUTHORISED KATE BANE (Grid Iron); UN PETIT MOLIERE, THE SILENT TREATMENT (Lung Ha); BRIGHT BLACK, THE NOT-SO-FATAL DEATH OF GRANDPA FREDO (Vox Motus); THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, EDUCATING RONNIE (Macrobert); THE WOODLAND HOEDOWN THROWDOWN TRILOGY, PUSS IN BOOTS (Platform); GRAIN IN THE BLOOD (Traverse/Tron); JRR TOLKIEN’S LEAF BY NIGGLE (Puppet State Theatre); THE INTERFERENCE (Pepperdine Edinburgh); HEADS UP (Kieran Hurley/Show & Tell); THE RED SHED (Mark Thomas/Lakin McCarthy); A GAMBLER’S GUIDE TO DYING (Gary McNair/Show & Tell); GLORY (Janice Parker Projects); THE WINTER’S TALE (People’s Light & Theatre, Philadelphia); THE DROWNING POND (Youth Music Theatre UK); DALGETY (Theatre Uncut); SOME OTHER MOTHER (AJ Taudevin); PAUSE WITH A SMILE (The Arches); BIRDS & OTHER THINGS I AM AFRAID OF (Poorboy/The Arches); SOAP, THE ART OF SWIMMING, THE HEIGHTS (Playgroup); THE COMING WORLD (Making Strange).
To date he has collaborated on the making of nine Scotsman Fringe First award winners & has been twice-nominated for the Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland in the category Best Use of Music & Sound.
Michael John's primary instruments are guitar and piano accordion. He has toured Europe & Japan with Zoey Van Goey, Lord Cut-Glass and Aidan Moffat. He appears as an accordionist on albums by Alasdair Roberts, RM Hubbert, Niall Connolly, Emma Pollock, Trembling Bells & Bonnie Prince Billy amongst others.
Work for film includes co-composing/performing the score for WHERE YOU'RE MEANT TO BE (Paul Fegan) and music for SPORES(Richard & Frances Poet).
He has also composed & recorded several series' worth of radio music for BBC Learning: Movement First, Nina & the Neurons and Music First.
He is lead artist on Turntable, a participatory arts project in association with Red Bridge.
Stef Smith’s 'Explosive' NORA opens Citizen’s Women Season in Glasgow ★★★★★
Stef Smith’s highly anticipated adaptation of Ibsen’s classic text, NORA: A Doll's House, opened at the Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow this week to standing ovations and high praise from both critics and audiences alike. NORA opens The Citizen’s Women season at the Citizen’s Theatre. NORA, written by Smith, also features the work of MLR Designer Tom Piper and Composition by MJ McCarthy.
‘On this dizzyingly brilliant two-hour journey through the arc of Ibsen’s story, driven by a subtly powerful musical score from Michael John McCarthy, the narrative passes between them with a strange and chilling ease, like the baton in some endlessly-repeating relay race of timeless female experience.’
‘On Tom Piper’s brilliant set for Stef Smith’s thrilling new 21st century perspective on the story of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, three doorframes stand between the domestic space and the outside world.’
‘Three women walk through different doors at the start of Stef Smith’s revolutionary reimagining of Henrik Ibsen’s 19th century meditation on women, men and power. It is as if they have broken through the frames that captured their once-still lives to map out a brand new story for themselves in colours of rage, making history as they go.’
‘This makes for an explosive couple of hours in Elizabeth Freestone’s slow-burning production, which makes flesh of Smith’s writing on Tom Piper’s timeless-looking set.’
‘Michael John McCarthy’s brooding underscore that suddenly flares up into floor-shaking life.’
‘Nora: A Doll’s House does something new with a popular script, something we haven’t seen before; yet, at the same time, it is not so unorthodox that it loses a new audience. Someone who has never seen or heard of the original could see this production and be equally engrossed by it – equally moved, equally shocked – as if they had seen an entirely straight production of the classic that had a lot to admire technically and creatively. In many ways, it is a perfect adaptation.’
‘Smith’s update is smart and thoughtful, balancing a sense of feminist history and activism with the tightness of a thriller and some rich personal drama, all of which reveal its themes even more keenly.’
‘Every line in Nora: A Doll's House is so carefully constructed- it would be a delight to dissect and it is a joy to listen to.’
‘This production of Nora: A Doll's House is bold, exciting and gripping throughout.’
'it is a provocation infused with Ibsen’s radical spirit.'
Frances Poet’s GUT premieres at the Traverse Theatre
In her debut full-length premiere, GUT by Frances Poet opens at the Traverse Theatre, Scotland, to four-star reviews. This production features Design by Fred Meller and Music/Sound Design by Michael John McCarthy.
The Scotsman ★★★★
“the power of Frances Poet’s brilliant and intense new play lies in the ruthless honesty with which she lays bare the inner workings of our “age of fear”.”
“flawless – gripping, perfectly-structured, beautifully staged, and designed to ask fierce and vital questions”
The Herald ★★★★
“Poet’s play is troublingly in tune with a current wave of TV drama that picks at the psychological sores of a post-Yewtree climate”
“the ice-cool order of designer Fred Meller’s living room [is] noisily upended into chaos”
The Reviews Hub ★★★★
“Poet’s writing is cogent at stripping back the thin line between paranoid fear and trust.”
“A swing, arching back and forth across the stage reflect the child at the centre of this, but more so the tense emotions around him… Torrents of toys fall from the sky, shrieking the paranoid delusions of Maddy, all adding to the mise-en-scene sublimely.”
The Wee Review ★★★★
“This is Frances Poet‘s debut full-length play, yet her rich arts and theatre background shines through in the tightness of the script and the tying up of loose ends at the end.”
“Gut is a piece of great storytelling”
Michael John McCarthy is Composer and Sound Designer on GLORY ON EARTH
The inaugural show in Rob Hastie’s first season as Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres, JULIUS CAESAR has sound designs by Emma Laxton. It runs until 10th June.
The Guardian ★★★★
“a thrilling take on an increasingly resonant play”
The Telegraph ★★★★
“the Shakespeare we need to see"
“brooding electronic soundtrack is the sound of a storm about to break”
“The final, dystopian-flavoured scenes, as Brutus picks his way through a wrecked debating chamber, to the sound of a distant flapping bird, are flooded with real poignancy.”
“the arresting and almost cinematic use of sound”
The Stage ★★★★
“Impressive debut from Sheffield's new artistic director is a pertinent display of over-reached power”
“powerful statement of artistic intent”