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State Theatre New Jersey

Review

A Delightful St. Patrick's Day Celebration

State Theatre New Jersey was green when the Dublin Irish Dance troupe performed for us on St.Patrick’s Day. Through dance, music, and song they told the Irish immigrant story and the rocky road to the shores of the United States. The house was packed with most of us wearing green.

The first foreigner to process through Ellis Island was 17-year old Annie Moore from County Cork, Ireland. The year was 1892. Today, the U.S. census population counts over 40 million of us in the United States with Irish lineage.  

Ryan, one of the musicians, provided narration and told of the guilt many suffered when they left their family behind as they searched for a brighter future in America.  He said the story is still relevant today as many still leave the homeland for that better life.  There was no dialogue in the production. The tale of the young couple, Ciara and Aidan is told through dance, music, and song.  Their story is a common one for those who left Ireland. It includes being uprooted, traveling into the unknown, loneliness, and homesickness.  Ciara has gone off on her own, leaving Aidan behind.  She receives a warm welcome in America, but she misses home and Aidan. She starts to build a new life and starts dating Sean.

The septet band played fiddle, whistle, flute, mandolin, banjo, guitar, and many more instruments. The music in conjunction with the lovely sounding Celtic lilt made the show an amazing one, and the dancing and costumes rounded it all out for a truly ethnic experience. The Irish are known for their step dancing and they did a stellar job; step percussion always makes a production full bodied.  The cast includes performers from Riverdance, Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance, and Celtic Woman.

The heartache of separation from loved ones was vivid in "Set You Free" when Aidan decides that he is not going to try and stop Ciara from leaving for America. And while the decision is made, sadness and resolve still beat in the song.  "Til We Meet Again’"is Ciara’s last dance with friends and for "The Parting Glass," she says goodbye to Ireland and Aidan.

Ciara is in the new world and she misses Ireland terribly this is illustrated in "Carrickfergus" named for a Northern Ireland town colloquially known as Carrick.  The heart wrenching ballad was beautifully sung and is a haunting tale of remembrance, evoking the imagery of the sea and shoreline. "Lonesome Road" brings Ireland to life and the sadness of missing one’s home. Ciara’s sadness doesn’t last for long though as Aidan arrives in the U.S. and after a battle with Sean, he wins Ciara and they reunite.  

I have Irish lineage and I’ve been to Ireland, so this show brought back fond memories for me. It reminded me of the ultra-friendly Irish, their rolling green hills, and the fresh air pervading the island. For the encore, Ryan taught us "Lonesome Road" and we all sang along. Listening to live Irish music and watching live step dancing was a splendid way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

By Elizabeth C. Millar

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