With St. Patrick’s Day less than six weeks away, we’re getting into the time of year when Irish bands and dance troupes are in heavy touring mode, offering plenty of opportunities to remind ourselves of the joys of Celtic culture. You can go the purist route, with ancient tunes by the ubiquitous composer O’Nonymous played on authentic, historically correct acoustic instruments; or you can explore the increasingly popular intersection of the traditional with the contemporary, as exemplified in the “Celtic punk” movement, the Chieftains’ highly praised collaborations with a variety of rock stars and Michael Flatley’s immensely successful Irish step-dance extravaganzas.
The latest entry in the latter category is coming to the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) in Kingston on Valentine’s Day, as part of a 65-city US tour: Rockin’ Road to Dublin, an elaborate production with a big, splendidly credentialed cast of musicians, singers and dancers; a director/choreographer with Broadway chops, Jeff Whiting (assistant director on Big Fish, Bullets over Broadway, Hair and Wicked); and a storyline pulling it all together, like a real stage musical.
The show’s co-creators are Scott Doherty, the 2009 Men’s World Champion of Irish Dance, who has toured with Riverdance and Lord of the Dance, and Chris Smith, percussionist from the Celtic rock band the American Rogues. The two came together in the long-running Celtic Fyre show at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, tapping its deep talent pool to develop a touring show with a bit more of a rock edge. Many of Rockin’ Road to Dublin’s dancers are alumni of Flatley’s world tours; the awards and contests that they and the show’s musicians have won are far too numerous to list here. Word has it that the production design, costumes, sets, sound and lighting are all topnotch.
Curtain time for Rockin’ Road to Dublin is 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 14, and ticket prices range from $36 to $45. To order, call or visit (845) 339-6088 or visit www.bardavon.org or www.ticketmaster.com. For more info about the show and cast, visit www.rockinroadtodublin.com. UPAC is located at 601 Broadway in Kingston.