Northern Ireland news

Belfast actress pens first show alone following sudden death of best friend and co-writer

Caroline Curran (right) and Jolene O’Hara, two of the stars of Jingle All the Hairspray, which will run at the Theatre at The Mill in Newtownabbey from December 7 until December 31
Marie Louise McConville

A Belfast actress whose best friend and co-writer died suddenly two years ago has told of the "emotional rollercoaster" of penning her first show alone.

Caroline Curran, who has written `Jingle All the Hairspray', said she had included a poignant scene where a character "describes the turmoil of losing their best friend" .

It follows the death of Julie Maxwell, who was her close friend and long-time collaborator.

The 36-year-old, who had appeared in the BBC comedy Soft Border Patrol as well as countless other productions, died after collapsing at the Sunflower Bar in Belfast city centre in August 2019.

She and Caroline had written and starred together in many of their own productions for the past decade.

Two years on from the tragedy, Caroline has written her first show alone and is getting ready to open it to audiences at the Theatre At The Mill in Newtownabbey.

Described as a "riotous, razor sharp tale of fun and friendship", `Jingle All The Hairspray' is set in Scary Bears Hair and Beauty Salon.

The Christmas show will tackle an array of controversial topics including Brexit, the Northern Ireland Protocol, Covid-19 and lateral flow tests, Love Island, EastEnders, and the QVC Shopping Channel.

Speaking about her new show, Ms Curran said: "Having decided to set the show in a hairdressing and beauty salon, I spent the last few months visiting places and watching the customers.

"I have a lot of friends who are hairdressers or owners of beauty salons and they all tell their own stories," she said.

"Christmas is their busiest time of the year and it is not just the curling tongs that can get heated".

The writer also references her own personal loss in the show.

"I added a scene where one of the customers describes the turmoil of losing their best friend," she said.

"It's been an emotional rollercoaster writing my first show alone.

"It features the type of wacky and weird comedy that I wrote with Julie, but it was difficult because I would usually have someone there to sound out what was funny and what wasn't".

She added: "I want the audience at Theatre at the Mill to enjoy an edge-of-the-seat, fun-filled ride. This is a feel good, all-in Christmas makeover".

`Jingle All the Hairspray' runs at the Theatre at the Mill from December 7 to December 31.

Tickets can be booked at

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