One of the sleeper hits of New York's 1997-98 season, Irish Repertory Theatre's The Irish ...And How They Got That Way, has proved an even bigger winner at Chicago's Mercury Theatre. The revue, which opened March 8, 1999 and was scheduled to run only to April 11, 1999 was quickly turned into an open run and now finishes performances more than a year later, on March 26, 2000.
Directed by Charlotte Moore the Mercury Theatre mounting, a sit-down production not connected to a recent touring version of the show, stars Curt Dale Clark, David Girolmo, Jane Baxter Miller, Justine Serino, Susan Voelz and Greg Walter.
A comic and lyrical reminiscence, Irish... was assembled by Frank McCourt, whose "Angela's Ashes" won Pulitzer and National Book Award prizes. Author McCourt was born in Brooklyn but spent his childhood in Limerick, which he termed, "a real city in an imaginary country."
McCourt and his brother, Malachy, also penned the revue-reminiscence A Couple of Blaguards, which played off-Broadway.
Irish... originally opened at NYC's Irish Repertory Theatre Oct. 2, 1997 and had an extended run through Jan. 25, 1998. After a sold-out run at Boston's Wilbur Theatre, Irish returned to Irish Rep, June 10-Oct. 18, 1998. The show mixes traditional Irish songs like "Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra" and "Danny Boy" with an account of Irish history and the Irish immigrants' experience in America, drawing on quotes from Irish writers and historical documents.
Varese Sarabande released an original cast CD of the show, produced by Bruce Kimmel, who's helmed nearly 90 disks for VS.
For information on The Irish...And How They Got That Way at Chicago's Mercury Theatre call (773) 325-1700. Producing the Chicago mounting are Richard Frankel, Thomas Viertel, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Josephine Merck and JAM Theatricals.
Following Irish, the Mercury Theatre will host Alfred Uhry’s Tony Winning The Last Night of Ballyhoo, opening April 30. -- By David Lefkowitz