In his new play, Larry Kirwan, leader of the popular, Irish-inflected New York rock band, Black 47, asks a classic "what if" question:
What if. . . the Beatles never made it big?
Liverpool Fantasy, playing at Off-Broadway's Irish Arts Center, imagines what the city would be like if The Beatles had never made it past the Cavern Club years. The comedy visits the unfab four, finding John Lennon and Ringo Starr on the dole, George Harrison turned into a Jesuit, and Paul McCartney changing his name and becoming Paul Montana, Vegas crooner. Julian Lennon is also on-hand (the son by John's first marriage), only he's a just a street thug.
Starring in Liverpool Fantasy, 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. *
In related news, 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an account of Irish history and the Irish immigrants' experience in America, drawing on quotes from Irish writers and historical documents.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).
For information on Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street, call (212) 727- 2737.
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