Irish dancing is often known for its high energy and traditions. A new show, Rockin’ Road to Dublin has all that… plus a modern twist of rock music.
“Right off the bat, we get you energized and we draw you in with excitement,” said musician Chris Smith, who co-created the show with dancer and choreographer Scott Doherty. "We kind of hit the ground running with all of this. It’s a lot of excitement and fun, and then the entire show is pretty much that. You’re always on your feet in excitement and get enthralled and into it.”
The 7:30 p.m. show is Sunday, March 12, downtown at the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre.
The inspiration for Rockin’ Road to Dublin came about six years ago when the co-creators’ were working out in a gym. At the time, they were both employed at Busch Gardens in Virginia. Scott was dance captain and principal dancer for the group Celtic Fyre, and Chris was a percussionist. "I learned how to play the Irish drum bodhran,” said Chris. "From that, I got into a bunch of different shows at Busch Gardens, and then hooked up with an Irish band. We toured around the world for a while."
Chris and Scott talked about shows they wanted to see or be in. "We realized we both kind of had this dream to make a show and do an Irish dance and Irish music show that was just cool, because there’s nothing out there like that,” said Scott. "And we thought, what’s cooler than rock and roll?”
It took them about two years to get the project moving, and more time after that to work out details.
“We had to be very careful,” said Scott, who has toured with the widely-known groups Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. "We couldn’t just smash everything together. We worked very hard for several years to create a perfect balance between dancing, the music, the singing. Everything like that.”
"To me, as a musician, this show kind of became a dream come true,” said Chris. “To pull together that whole rock world and the Irish world, which are two musical facets that I am really attracted to. Now I get to go on stage and rock out to some awesome music with a great band.”
"Years later, here we are on our first national tour,” said Scott. "Going from touring to starting your own company, the term I like to use is ‘excitingly terrifying.’ It was scary, that’s for sure.”
Altogether, the cast has 14 dancers, 8 band members and two singers, a male and female vocalist.
Scott said he dances a lot in the show with a fellow Boston native, Ashley Smith.
“Ashley is probably the most fun dancer I’ve ever danced on stage with,” said Scott. "We grew up both being from Boston, just competing against each other and always dancing at different events… She’s a three-time world champ, so she definitely keeps me at my best.”
The show has a pretty aggressive tour, with six to seven shows a week. Fitness is a must to keep up with the physical demands. “We don’t get much down time,” said Scott. “Irish dancing in general is one of the best workouts I’ve ever had in my entire life. We like to say, we can eat pretty much anything we want, because we burn everything off every single night.”
Scott described Rockin’ Road to Dublin as a show to bring the whole family to see, from young ones to grandparents. "If you think you’ve seen it all, come to the show and we’ll prove you wrong,” he said.
Chris said one of the best compliments he’s ever had about the show is that you don’t have time to look down at your program because there’s so much going on. "You’re always up and into it, and next thing you know the show is over,” Chris said. "It’s just a lot or excitement and fun. Everybody is going to be ready to go as soon as it starts.”
Scott said the cast comes out we meet the fans after every single show. "We love hearing what they have to say about us, especially those fans that already are already big into Irish music and dance,” said Scott. "They’ve seen all the shows, and the biggest comment we’ve heard is that they’ve never seen anything like this. It’s exciting to be on the forefront of something new. There’s not really many new things out there when it comes to such an old genre of Irish shows. This is exciting for us and for the fans.”
Tickets to the show at MPAC are $35-$50, and can be purchased through ticketmaster.com or through the MPAC box office. For more information call 334-481-5100.
A point Chris said he tries to make with everyone is that Rockin’ Road to Dublin’s show doesn’t change Irish dancing. "We’re just updating it,” he said. "We’re just giving it the newest feel of what people are wanting nowadays, with the energy and the band. The cool part is, no one has done that. Almost all the other shows are pretty traditional in the way they’re set up and a lot of them are very similar. So we’re the first to really branch out into a new genre type.”
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