The Rocking Irish | Dayton City Paper
Rockin’ Road to Dublin at the Victoria Theatre
Mention Irish dance to most people and Celtic visions usually come to mind. Thanks to two enterprising entertainers named Chris Smith and Scott Doherty, that illusion will be replaced by a new type of high energy show, fusing Irish dance with Celtic rock music. Rockin’ Road to
Dublin will have its Dayton premiere at the Victoria Theatre Sept. 29 as part of a 40-city national tour. The show is a labor of love that began five years ago.
“Scott and I were talking about previous managers we have had at past jobs, some good and some not so good,” co-creator Chris Smith says. “We both talked about how we would love to create our own shows with the idea that we can run it our way and make the right decisions when it came to show quality, as well as how to treat our employees and performers. The more we discussed these ideas, the more this one concept came to light about fusing them together to create this live music, rock concert type of Irish dance show. What got us the most excited was the fact that this had never been done before that would make it stand out in the pack of not just Irish dance shows, but live entertainment shows in general.”
Chris Smith is a Celtic rocker who previously performed with the American Rogues, while Scott Doherty is a veteran of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. They first met when both were working at the Busch Gardens Williamsburg theme park. Smith notes the majority of the performers, designers, and technicians involved with the company have all worked there at some point.
“The world of entertainment is small, and the world of Irish dancing is even smaller,” Smith says. “Scott has performed in many major Irish dance shows over the years and has met many extremely talented dancers. For these first few years of shows we have been able to contact friends of ours, as well as fellow dance colleagues, who we have worked with in the past and bring them on board.”
The two work closely as a collaborative team to ensure that the shows are not only original, but memorable.
“Scott and I collectively come up with the numbers,” he says. “I do a lot of the research on the music; Scott comes up with the dance choreography; and together we come up with the idea for each number and what we feel fits the mood of the music as well as the mood and story of the show.”
The company is comprised of two vocalists, eight musicians, and 14 dancers, plus a full stage crew. The entire production seems to take a team approach, reminiscent of a classic hey-kids-let’s-put-on-a-show movie musical.
“We are a very ‘glass half full’ type of company,” he says. “When something goes wrong or something breaks, we quickly find a way to fix it and move on in a positive way. There was one performance where we showed up to the venue, and no crew showed up to unload the truck and help us set up the show. Instead of freaking out, we got on the phone, got all the performers to come in, called up all our friends and family in the area to come help, ordered some pizza, and got to work. We performed an amazing show that night despite the setback.”
“Most Irish dance shows are very traditional in feeling and follow the same form,” he continues. “What we wanted to do was bring fun and energy to this genre. We don’t want to change Irish dancing; we just want to update it. We want to bring the live rock concert feel to the show. Fusing together both these worlds takes the audience into a whole new genre of performance that has something for everyone!”
Although the troupe has had limited exposure, Smith has been amazed by the initial support.
“We performed in Andover, Massachusetts, during a small tour in February of 2015 during a massive blizzard,” he recalls. “There were 10-foot tall snow drifts, airports were shut down – it was crazy! We performed two shows there, and both shows were sold out. Over 1,100 people per show came out in the blizzard to watch us and gave us so much love and support. It was amazing to have people willing to do that because they believe in us and our product.”
Smith and Doherty hope audiences will leave the performance with a renewed appreciation for Irish dance.
“This show is a lot of fun, excitement, and energy,” Smith says. “We just want everyone to enjoy it. We bring a perfect balance of musical theatre, live rock concert, and Irish dancing together in a brand new way that will leave you excited and wanting more.”
The company already has plans stretching well into next year. Their current tour includes 40 cities, and they have another 50-city tour planned for next spring.
“This national tour is our first step, and it will pave the way for many future tours including Europe and South America,” Smith says. “We just want to share this fun and exciting show with as many people as possible all over the world.”
Rockin’ Road to Dublin performs Sept. 29, 8 p.m., at the Victoria Theatre, 13 N. Main St. in Dayton. Tickets range from $32.50 to $52.50. To buy tickets, please visit TicketCenterStage.com or call 937.228.3630. For more information, please visit RockinRoadToDublin.com.
Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com.