Monday, April 21, 2008

Feet of What?

Are there places overseas where Americans go to perform and are forced to wear cowboy hats and do rope tricks? Maybe they put on Native American dress and do rain dances. Are they expected to wear their overalls and go barefoot when they play bluegrass? Do they bring out the jug and Jaw Harp because that’s what is expected?

Is it just Americans who want the stereotypes in other cultures?

Saturday went a little something like this.

Big Daddy and I sneaked in the back.

We were the picture of stealth as we tried to remember where to go. The performers were hanging out back having a quick smoke. As I walked in acting like I knew where I was going, I gave a quick, “HAYALL!”

A cuteshirtlessredhaired man shot back a, “HOWYA!”

How’s that for stereotyping on both ends? I was overjoyed. My excitement grew.

I made a wrong turn and ended up on stage instead of in the house. Beautiful girls with long, tightly curled hair, literally, flitted about. An ancient gray-headed woman was there watching our every move. I don’t know if she was chaperoning the girls or what, but she sure gave us the stink-eye as we rerouted our way through the theater.

The term 'stink-eye' brought to you today by Big Daddy.

The lines were so long for this show that I was afraid we’d never get in-thus our wicked back door entrance. Thank goodness there were a couple of seats left over or my guilt would have interfered with my viewing pleasure.

I shouldn’t have worried. But not for the reasons you might expect.

I won’t give you a play by play. I wouldn’t even know how. I’m not a reviewer. I’m sure there are steps you take to do that sort of thing properly, but I will give you some of my impressions.

A harpist? Ah. I can deal with that. It was lovely.

The trad band would have been happier in jeans and tee shirts. They looked uncomfortable and-I’m speculating here-embarrassed to be playing in over the top formal costumes. The guitar player gave it Hell, though.

The ‘dance off’ with two of the men was just horrifying. I’m sure the producers of this show were going for fun, but I cringed the whole time. I know for a fact that not every grown male in Ireland has red hair. But all three dancers did.

The MC didn’t have an Irish accent. I would think in an Irish show, the MC would have been Irish. But together he and his wife played a mean bouzouki and whistle respectively.

In fact, now that I think about it, no one in the cast that spoke onstage had an accent. Odd.

Do What? Did I hear that right? Irish Gospel? That’s how they introduced
Be Thou My Vision. Don’t get me wrong, the song is gorgeous, but I wouldn’t call it gospel. And it seemed oddly out of place.

Square dancing?!!!
I know, I know. We have clogging because we ripped off Irish dance.

(I pause here to tell you I love clogging and if I thought I could get away with it I’d learn how. But I refuse to wear a circle skirt. I also chose to take a folk dance class in college for an activities credit. Half the semester was square dance. I was 20 years old and was jammin’ on the square-which obviously made me one.)

However, this melding of Irish folk dance and square dance was unnatural and disjointed.

The ‘fire’ consisted of a dancer manipulating two balls of fire around the stage and then manipulating two balls of fire-wait for it- attached to strings!

I don't know what that had do with anything.

Did I hate it?

Well after listening to myself carry on so, I guess I did. And I hate that, because I wanted to love it.

Granted, I wanted some Irish dance, but I’d have loved some story telling ala Mairtin. I wanted the trad band to cut loose and to tear it up and maybe give way to someone bringing out the broom. I would have liked to have heard someone speak in the Irish language.

..and yes. I wanted a couple of drinking songs.

So you see, I did want the stereotype, mine just would have prevented forcing these talented folks to go all ‘Bran Vegas’.

But what do I know? Maybe my stereotyped show would have been even worse!

A ‘source close to the production’ told me the producers were really proud of the technical aspects of the show. This was evident. It seemed they were more concerned with the multi-media aspects than the performances.

Ouch. Did I say that?

The cast performed their sweet little souls out. And the rest of the crowd loved it. I mean standing ovation loved it! So obviously this whole tirade is coming from a minority and isn’t to be trusted for even a moment.

But I was so disappointed. I love this place. The shows are flashy and cheesy, and goofy but they are supposed to be! And they always have heart. They make you laugh and feel a little warm fuzzy inside. It’s what we expect and I daresay what we want from our fair city and this experience won’t make me hesitate a minute in going back for more.

But ultimately this show was uninspired and joyless and disrespectful to the performers.

…and that is just wrong.

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