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Review of Ireland’s Call at Richmond Theatre

Ireland's CallThe Emerald Isle that is Ireland boasts one of the most poignantly beautiful landscapes imaginable, from the lush mountains of Wicklow to the tranquil woods and valleys of West Cork and further to County Galway and the exquisite scenery of Leenane – the Gateway to Connemara. But like many European countries of staggering natural beauty, it failed to provide the jobs necessary to keep its youth at home, thus creating the Irish diaspora and its scattered population around the globe.

Ireland’s Call, a reimagining of Prestige Productions Essence of Ireland, is a rousing, rollicking musical of Irish song and folk dance, shamelessly sentimental and with a specific appeal to those with a penchant for nostalgia. It follows the story of Sean Dempsey (Mike Burr), who must leave his beloved Ireland to secure a future for himself and his young sweetheart Cora McGowen (Shauna Barry). Burr and Barry convince us with the naivety of young love, an emotion they carry through in the choreography of their dance routines, which is a credit to choreographer Lianne Stubbs. We also engage with Miguel Sanchez (Jesus Vidoretta), the friend who helps ease the heartache that Sean experiences on his arrival in New York.

The plight of the young lovers is narrated throughout by Ged Graham, a Dubliner who has spent more than two decades playing festivals and theatres in his native homeland, Europe and the United States. Ged’s narration is essential in maintaining the focus of the piece and in engaging the audience in a sing­a­long of well known songs such as Galway Girl and Irish Rover.

Ireland’s Call is unabashedly a love letter written in flourishing strokes that pay homage to the Irish experience of the last century and to the myth of the great metropolis, New York City, that welcomed its immigrants with open arms. It is a time­worn tale, spanning three decades, of the pain of separation, along with the pull of loyalties towards what was left behind and what awaits in an unknown land. But first and foremost it is a dance musical, and its strength lies in the explosive energy of its ensemble cast, as well as its lead actors. If there are moments where the energy lags, it is when it niggles as an advertisement for the Irish Tourist Board, the jokes creak and the stereotypes of what it is to be Irish are so well worn as to make you wince.

But if you are someone who appreciates Irish culture, or a story told mostly through the medium of well­choreographed, high­spirited Irish dance, and a finale that will have you on your feet and clapping with wild applause, then you won’t be disappointed.

Ireland’s Call, produced by Prestige Productions Ltd, is a new musical direct from Ireland, coming to theatres across the UK in 2016.

Inspired by true events and spanning three decades, this uplifting musical follows the extraordinary journey of the strong­headed Sean Dempsey, who at the end of World War 2 leaves behind his childhood sweetheart Cora and his beloved homeland Ireland, in search of a better life in the Big Apple. Can their love survive the Atlantic Divide? Will Sean be able to resist ‘Ireland’s call’ as he embarks on an adventure full of danger, tragedy and lost love? Only fate will tell…

The show is a musical adaptation of critically acclaimed production Essence of Ireland and features an exhilarating mix of original scores and well­known songs such as Galway Girl, Isle of Hope Isle Of Tears, I Loved Her First, Tell Me Ma, Irish Rover, plus an ensemble of some of the most talented dancers in the world. Ireland’s Call is a powerful, explosive blend of energy, emotion and music which leaves audiences from around the world on an unforgettable high.

Ireland’s Call is a timeless celebration – a celebration of dreams, enduring love, the resilience of human spirit and of the powerful pull between one man and his homeland.

4 stars

Review by Loretta Monaco

Exactly one hundred years since the historic 1916 ‘Easter Rising’, one of the pivotal events in modern Irish history; Ireland’s Call, a new and exciting musical adaptation of the critically acclaimed show Essence of Ireland, is coming to stages across the UK next spring.

Ireland’s Call opens in Weymouth on 2nd March, 2016 and continues to over 45 venues nationwide through to the beginning of May.

Inspired by true events and spanning three decades, this uplifting musical tells the story of one man’s love for his Irish homeland. The story follows the extraordinary journey of the strong-headed Sean Dempsey, who at the end of World War II leaves behind his childhood sweetheart Cora and his beloved homeland Ireland, in search of a better life in the Big Apple
Visit www.irelandscallthemusical.com for tour dates.


2 thoughts on “Review of Ireland’s Call at Richmond Theatre”

  1. I have seen Irelands Call twice and I would highly recommended it, please bring the show to Ireland

  2. I couldn’t help myself, after seeing Irelands Call at Southend Cliffs Pavilion a while ago, I just had to make it to Hornchurch this evening to see it all over again. Again it was an inspirational performance by a quite superb group of dancers a and musicians which had the audience up on their feet clapping and cheering. The piece I was really looking forward too was the letter sent by Cora (Shauna Barry, to Sean (Mike Burr), explaining she wouldn’t be going to America, and the reason why.
    I thought they did a brilliant portrayal of two people so much in love, but who had their hopes and prayers dashed by the circumstances they found themselves in. However, that paled into insignificance as tonight they surpassed that performance with an even better interpretation of unrequited love, so much so, my eyes became very moist.
    I hope Ireland’s Call carries on giving such talented individuals a platform to show just how good they really are, it would be a shame if at the end of the tour they disbanded. Make that a TRAVESTY if they were to disband at the end of the tour.
    I met Mike Barr, Shauna Barry and Chris Duggan as I left the theatre, and such delightful people they were too.
    So look out for Ireland’s Call in a theatre near you, you won’t regret it.

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