One of the sleeper hits of 1997, Irish Repertory Theatre's musical revue, The Irish ...And How They Got That Way, became a hit again in 1998. Initially, the show's return visit to Off-Broadway was scheduled for six weeks (June 10-July 19). The show was then extended to Oct. 4 but will now finish its run Oct. 18, according to the 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. The show then enjoyed a sold-out run at Boston's Wilbur Theatre.
Some cast-changes were done during the run, but the original cast now plays in 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an account of Irish history and the Irish immigrants' experience in America, drawing on quotes from Irish writers and historical documents. Varese Sarabande recently released an original cast CD of the show, produced by Bruce Kimmel, who's helmed nearly 90 disks for VS. 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.
For information on Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street, call (212) 727-2737.
-- By David Lefkowitz