The How it’s New York: The Irish Repertory Theatre has been a mainstay on the NYC theater scene since 1988.
How it’s Irish: The Irish Repertory Theatre stages the works of Irish and Irish-American classic and contemporary playwrights, encourages the development of new works focused on the Irish and Irish-American experience, and produces the works of other cultures interpreted through the lens of an Irish sensibility.
They were throwing a going away party the other night at The Irish Repertory Theatre – and the party was for them. A talented cast of singers joined Artistic Director Charlotte Moore and Producing Director Ciaran O’Reilly to bid a temporary farewell to their home on West 22nd Street, which has closed for renovations. Meet Me At The Square, a festive and entertaining evening, featured musical numbers from many of the shows that have graced the company’s stage over the years.
The Irish Rep, which is taking its act on the road while they wait for the makeover (the 2014-2015 season is at the DR2 Theatre at Union Square), trotted out an all-star lineup that included Broadway veterans Beth Fowler, Chad Kimball, Ciaran Sheehan, and Max Von Essen. The evening began when Ms. Moore and Mr. O’Reilly, donning construction hats, reminisced about the 120 plays that have been staged at the theatre since it opened in 1988. Calling the space a “sacred ground”, they declared that the night would be dedicated to
“honoring the past, and looking forward to the future”.
The performance itself – on a warm and welcoming set that evoked images of a parlor in a cottage somewhere in the old country – was a treat. The music ranged from the iconic (three songs each from Finian’s Rainbow and Meet Me In St. Louis, as well as Danny Boy) to more recent fare (this year’s premiere of Transport, a new musical by Thomas Keneally and Larry Kirwan). (Read our interview with Larry and Thomas when the show had a semi-staged production at Irish Arts Center here.) The casual, recital-style staging was an easy-going affair, with a comfortable atmosphere that seemed more like a holiday party, especially when Donna Kane sang a lovely rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.
The rest of the delightful cast included John Bell, Jessica Grove, Danielle Ferland, Kerry Conte, Howard McGillin, Rita Harvey, Bonnie Fraser, Katie Fabel, Mary Illes, Elizabeth Inghram, Kristin Huxhold Provisero, Kerry O’Malley, Jenny Powers, and David Staller, who all delivered winning takes on a delicious variety of smart, humorous, and often poignant songs.
All in all, this night reminded us of the Irish Rep’s unique and worthy place on the New York theatre landscape, and certainly inspired us to grab a walking stick and follow them down to the wilds of Union Square while they spruce up their home.