One of the sleeper hits of 1997, Irish Repertory Theatre's musical revue, The Irish ...And How They Got That Way, will return to New York for a six-week engagement, June 10-July 19. The show just had a sold-out run at Boston's Wilbur Theatre.
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."
Irish Rep Artistic Director Charlotte Moore stages the play, which originally opened Oct. 2, 1997 and ended, after multiple extensions and a change of venue, Jan. 25.
Some cast-changes were done during the run, but the original cast now returns to New York: Terry Donnelly, Bob Green, Marian Tomas Griffin, Rusty Magee, Ciaran O'Reilly and Ciaran Sheehan.
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an account of Irish history and the Irish immigrants' experience in America, drawing on quotes from Irish writers and historical documents. Designing Irish are David Toser (costumes) and Shawn Lewis (sets).
Founded in 1988 by Moore and Ciaran O'Reilly, Irish Repertory Theatre took a big leap three years ago when they moved into their charming, jewel-box home on West 22nd St. Among their most notable productions have been a Harold Prince-directed Grandchild Of Kings, the Walton-directed Importance Of Being Earnest, and Brian Murray starring in Da.
The play was read at Broadway's Golden Theatre in May 1997 as a fundraiser for Irish Rep, featuring Peter Gallagher, Eric Stoltz, folksinger Tommy Makem.
For information on Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street, call (212) 727- 2737.
In other Irish theatre news, the Irish Arts Center will produce a new comedy by Larry Kirwan, a member of the Irish-inflected rock band, Black 47. Liverpool Fantasy, directed by Brian Leahy Doyle, imagines what the city would be like if The Beatles had never made it big. The comedy also visits the unfab four, finding John and Ringo on the dole, George become a Jesuit, and Paul a Vegas crooner.
Staring are in the show, which runs June 4-28, are Colin Lane, Denis O'Neill, Patrick Walsh and Anthony Bertram.
For tickets ($12) and information on Liverpool Fantasy at the Irish Arts Center, 553 West 51st St., call (212) 757-3318.
Irish theatre is having a bit of a resurgence in New York, what with UK dramatist Martin McDonagh's Cripple of Inishmaan and Beauty Queen of Leenane set in the Irish countryside, and Oscar Wilde studied in both Gross Indecency and The Judas Kiss.
-- By David Lefkowitz