Celtic music and dance will grace the City Opera House stage in downtown Traverse City February 23. MyNorth Media entertainment writer Ross Boissoneau introduces us to the singers, dancers and musicians celebrating the music of the Emerald Isle with Celtic Nights: The Spirit of Freedom before their Traverse City event.
How It Got Its Start
Celtic Nights is helmed by the same team as Gaelforce Dance, a tragedy of two brothers in love with the same woman, all set to Celtic music and dance. This presentation is more in line with other Celtic presentations such as Riverdance or Leahy, with a troupe of singers, dancers and musicians performing in numerous styles. Jigs, reels, and laments reflect various Celtic styles with performers from across the globe, all steeped in the keening music of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
This particular program recalls the Easter Rising of 1916, an armed insurrection in Ireland which took place during Easter Week 1916. While unsuccessful at the time, the Rising was a key milestone on the path to the establishment of an independent Ireland in 1922. This journey of patriotism, revenge, love and courage is told in a two-hour spectacular with costumes and sets depicting the time period. Individual storylines illuminate the history of Ireland, with its cry for an independent and free nation.
Influences and Inspirations
Gaelforce Dance, Riverdance, Lord of the Dance
Six singers and a five dancers work together with a trio of multi-instrumentalists to bring to life history that engages the audience’s mind, heart and spirit, according to Celtic Nights producer Michael Durkan.
He said the show also brings to light areas that are sometimes overlooked, such as the role of women in Ireland’s struggle for independence. Women played a very significant part in the Rising, and the troupe honors that history in part by telling the story of Grace Gifford and Joseph Plunkett, who were married in the Kilmainham jail only a few hours before Plunkett was executed for his part in the Rising.
The show, which is being presented on this tour in more than 50 communities, also breaks the Fourth Wall by engaging the audience directly during an “unplugged” section. The cast comes to the lip of the stage in an informal way to talk, sing songs, and lead the audience in singing along. Co-producer Rebekah Shearer, who performs in the show under the name of Rebekah Johanne, likens it to a true Irish party, such as one would find in a pub.
“Six of Ireland’s most accomplished dancers mirror six of its finest voices to present a spell-binding and exhilarating picture of a proud people and their passion.” – The Valentine Theater, New York
“Powerful songs would build your confidence, and then a ballad would come along and steal your breath. The lighting was dramatic and matched the power of the voices, dancers, music and story.” – Iowa State Daily
Date & Time
Tuesday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for the Traverse City event start at $33 and can be purchased at CityOperaHouse.org.
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