‘Echoes’ song, dance, stories“Echoes of Ireland — The Musical,” coming to the Jamestown Civic Center May 3, is an evening in a pub with the storytelling, music, singing and dancing of the Irish culture.
By: Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun
“Echoes of Ireland — The Musical,” coming to the Jamestown Civic Center May 3, is an evening in a pub with the storytelling, music, singing and dancing of the Irish culture.
The director, Howard Platt, himself an actor with a long list of credits, describes “Echoes of Ireland” as a kind of vaudeville experience. The central characters in the production are Frank and Malachy McCourt. The brothers wrote a script of their stories many years ago, and called it “The Blaguards” (correctly spelled as blackguards, which in this case is an affectionate term for the rowdy, outgoing and sometimes drinking sort of boys). That storytelling play is the basis for “Echoes.”
“The setting is a pub, where the McCourts are exchanging stories for pints, which are inserted into the musical,” Platt said in a telephone interview. “The material is hilarious. I’ve directed and acted in ‘A Couple of Blaguards’ and it’s fun.”
The storytelling, which includes some a capella singing between the principals, was combined with “The Magic of Ireland,” which showcases the band-backed music, song and dance of the culture. In the storyline of the production, the McCourts are in the pub telling their stories during some song and dance rehearsals.
“The McCourts are a couple of loveable rogues,” Platt said.
The combination of “Magic” and “Blaguards” became “Echoes of Ireland — The Musical” and is touring the Midwest in what Platt calls a ceili (kaylee) for the audience. Ceili is Gaelic for a party with live musicians, dancing and general merriment.
“It was kind of tricky to put it all together, but it works very well,” Platt said.
Ryan Wesley Gilreath plays young Frank McCourt and Jonathan Judge-Russo young Malachy McCourt. The cast is three men and seven females and features traditional and contemporary Irish music and choreography.
“We have a really wonderful choreographer and terrific dancers,” Platt said. “These are the nicest as well as the most talented people I’ve ever dealt with.”
Frank McCourt is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Angela’s Ashes,” which is his memoir. Malachy McCourt is the best-selling author of “A Monk Swimming.” Frank taught high school and college English. Malachy left school at age 13. He worked at a variety of different jobs, eventually becoming an actor and a talk show host. He co-authored with his brother “A Couple of Blaguards,” which contained the many family stories they’d told through the years.
The show will be performed at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at the Civic Center. Tickets are $42.50 and are available at the Civic Center during office hours or can be charged to MasterCard or Visa by calling 252-8088, also during office hours.
Pam Fosse, Civic Center director, said the musical production is self-promoted, meaning the Civic Center was chosen as a venue by the tour organizer. “Echoes” is a professional production, which will also be staged in Bismarck May 1 and Fargo May 17.
“We hope people appreciate the fact that this is excellent cultural entertainment and we need to support these productions so they continue to come,” Fosse said.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at email@example.com