Who are the Irish, and how did they get that way? NY's Irish Repertory Theatre will attempt to answer those and other questions with the new musical revue, The Irish. . . And How They Got That Way. It's a comic and lyrical reminiscence assembled by Frank McCourt, whose Angela's Ashes won Pulitzer and National Book Award prizes. Irish Rep Artistic Director Charlotte Moore stages the play, which opens Oct. 2.
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an account of Irish history and the Irish immigrants' experience in America, drawing on quotes from Irish writers and historical documents.
Starring in the show will be Irish Rep vets Terry Donnelly, Ciaran O'Reilly (the company's co-founder), Marion Tomas Griffin, Rusty Magee and Ciaran Sheehan. Designing the show are David Toser (costumes) and Shawn Lewis (sets).
Author McCourt was born in Brooklyn but spent his childhood in Limerick, which he termed, "a real city in an imaginary country."
Following Irish at Irish Rep will be George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara. As he did with The Importance Of Being Earnest last season, Tony Walton will direct and design Barbara, starting previews Nov. 15 for a Nov. 25 opening. There was talk that Walton would use actors from Earnest again, but he hadn't much time to work on the George Bernard Shaw play because of his duties on the recent oratorio, King David. (Earnest featured Melissa Errico, Eric Stoltz, Nancy Marchand and Daniel Gerroll.) Two other plays are expected for the mainstage in the spring. On Irish Rep's second stage will be Rafferty Rescues The Moon. The piece is written by June Anderson and directed by Bob Flanagan and Akira Yoshimura. Previews begin Oct. 31.
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 the Irish Repertory Theatre season call (212) 727 2737.
--By David Lefkowitz