As the Celtic Women Emerald Tour crossed the nation, bringing to their fans a production chock-full of Celtic music and dance, those in attendance at The Landmark Theatre on June 8, 2014 in Syracuse, NY were honored to be chosen as the audience to close their eighty-eight show run.
Celtic Women, a production created in 2004 by Sharon Browne and David Downes, a former musical director of the Irish stage show Riverdance, features a cast of the most talented vocalists, musicians, and dancers who bring to audiences a celebration of Celtic culture through angelic voices, sounds of traditional celtic instruments, and dances from their beloved home of Ireland. With a mix of both traditional tunes such as “Danny Boy” and modern numbers such as “Sail Away” and “You Lift Me Up”, these ladies mesmerize you with their harmonic voices, while being accompanied by the some the most talented musicians on tour. Recently described by a fan as the “violin vixen”, Mairead Nesbitt commands the stage from the moment she steps foot on it. As you watch her perform, it’s as if she entrances you with her amazing fiddle playing; she leads you around the stage as though she is the Pied Piper of the fiddle, never to be able to take your eyes off her. Her energy and ease of playing while constantly moving astounds me each and every time I see the show. The Emerald Tour featured four highly acclaimed vocalists: Susan McFadden, Mairead Carlin, Lynn Hilary, and Lisa Lambe (who I must add was dearly missed at the Syracuse show by all her fans). Each of these women have mile-long resume’s under their belts for stage, screen, and recording. Each a star in their own right, however together, their voices, for a loss of a words, are angelic. The harmony, the rich mellow tones, the ease in which they sing, can only be what angels sound like.
This production is A+ when it comes to the lighting, the sound, the musical scores, the background musicians, the choreography, and the dancers. Too numerous to mention here, but each cast member deserves a standing ovation in their own right as they perform solely and together as a unit. They seamlessly fit together and it is apparent how much they respect and love working together. Always a crowd favorite is our friend, Anthony Byrne’s bagpipe solo of Amazing Grace, a number that never loses its emotion when played. It brings a tear, recalls a loved one, and always brings a standing ovation.
Another stand out moment during this show was the dance number with the three percussionists on the Cajon drums. As they accompany the “dance off” between Craig Ashurst and Nicholas Yenson, the choreography of this piece highlights the superior talents of both percussionists and dancers and makes it one of my favorite moments in the production. Again, I would be remiss not mention the amazing talent of these two dancers as they defied gravity throughout their numbers the entire show. Hands down though, it was the elaborate number “Mo Ghile Mear” in which the group really highlights and rises this production to award-winning status. As the ladies shine through with their angelic voices, the percussionists vie for your approval through a “drum off”, while the background musicians and vocalists accompany them, highlighting their notes and movements. Throughout this number, the entire cast is on stage holding your attention and demanding your respect as you sit agape at witnessing such superior talent.
As the production takes a few months off, they will once again hit the road as they tour Brazil and Europe this fall. With a few North American dates scheduled currently, keep note of new dates being added to towns near you as this is a must-see, spectacular production. We thank you Celtic Women for the chance to be your final show as you definitely brought down the house.