As Central New York continues to celebrate their week long St. Patrick’s Day traditions, it was only fitting to host the beautiful Women of Ireland at the magnificent Stanley Center for the Arts. While not all of the Women of Ireland could make it, they did send some very special ladies and gentlemen to represent and share their traditions of music and dance across the pond here in America.
And what a fabulous production it was. To state that the musicians and dancers were outstanding is just an understatement of their amazing talents and effortless delivery. The lovely O’Neill sisters, Fiona, Naomi, and Evangeline, are no strangers to the music industry as they have roots in music both here in America and across the pond in Ireland. They grew up in Ireland in the County Kerry, an area where coastline and natures beauty surrounded them. Studying music, dance, and theater at an early age fueled in them a passion to share their voices and talents with audiences worldwide, and after spending some time in America with the likes of stars such as Bruno Mars, Tom Cruise and Miley Cyrus, their homeland began to beckon them home where to our great fortune, they became involved with Women of Ireland.
Mix the angelic voices with the light and airy steps of Kelly McDonnell and you have a perfect combination. Kelly McDonnell hails from County Tipperary and at the age of 3 began dancing with the Fleming Ball Academy. With several amazing championship wins under her belt by the age of 16, Kelly turned professional and traveled the world performing for huge audiences, select celebrities, and shows such as Michael Flatley’s “Celtic Tiger”. Her amazing spring and effortless ease entrances those who are lucky enough to see her perform.
How could this show get any better you ask? Well just add in Anthony Fallon. Anthony began his dancing career at the early age of 3 also, under the tutelage of Terry Gillan and Philip Owens in Dublin Ireland, and at the age of 6 began competing. Anthony was World Irish Dancing Solo Champion from 2000-2004, and with numerous titles under his belt he began touring. While working in America he was invited to tour with Riverdance: The Show, where after two years he was offered a principal position. Anthony is the Principal Choreographer for the Irish dancing you see in the Women of Ireland, and I must compliment his magnificently creative, and impeccably timed choreography you see through each and every number in the production.
Rounding out the ensemble I would be remiss to not mention how absolutely enjoyable were the performances by both Katie Shaughnassey and Maureen Devereaux. These young ladies float across the stage performing their slips, reels, and jigs as though clouds moving to the music. And rounding out the cast was a band of musicians who are top notch in their crafts. On uileann pipes was Dan Callaghan, on bodhran was Andrew Meyer, on guitar was Searn Ernest, Katie Greenan was on fiddle, and on drums was Renato Milone.
For all that attended the show on March 11th they were thoroughly entertained with both traditional celtic tunes such as Danny Boy and Red Haired Mary, and more contemporary tunes such as Josh Groban’s “You Lift Me Up”, Original Castle’s “One Tin Soldier”, and John Lennon’s “Imagine”. They were treated to the traditional celtic instruments of the uleann pipes, the bodhran, and of course the fiddle. As the dancers joined them on stage audience members couldn’t help but tap their toes and clap along.
This production took every detail in mind. I have been part of many shows and this one was an outstanding artistic production. The light show and sound match the talent it was highlighting and all together was seamlessly carried out.
Although all the women of Ireland could not make it to The Stanley Center for the Arts, it was truly our gift that they shared this cast and crew with Central New York making this pre St. Patrick’s Day show the perfect way to begin the holiday week.