Category: Archive

‘Style’ a toe-tappin’ good time for charity

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Well, not “style” in the dictionary sense of “a mode of expressing thought in language,” since there wasn’t really very much language involved, but as the title of a pleasant, amiable, undemanding production brought to Town Hall for a single benefit performance by Boys Hope/Girls Hope and the Beaumont Hospital International Foundation.
Last year, the two organizations, the first based in New York and the second in Dublin, brought the late Kerry playwright John B. Keane’s “Moll” to Town Hall for a single performance, followed by performance in Boston.
This year’s attraction, “Style,” wasn’t a play in any conventional sense of the word, but, rather, an affable, loosely “Stories of Irish Dance.” It was, in essence, an informal first cousin of “Riverdance,” an elaborate production to which it paid a cozy tribute more than once in the course of the two-hour performance.
The “stories” promised by that subtitle were delivered by Norman Morrissey, who described himself as “the greatest dance master in Ireland,” and who boasted a rich Kerry accent that even playwright Keane might well have envied.
The bulk of the actual performing in “Style” was done by a corps of very young stepdancers, some from Ireland, and others, as is almost always the case with this sort of venture, recruited from dance schools on this side of the Atlantic, in this case the Mike Farrell Dancing School and the Niall O’Leary Dancing School.
The dancers who came over from Ireland for the event were members of the Treaty Dance Troupe, with the energetic, smiling Brendan Cogan, a sort of vest-pocket Michael Flatly, doubling as dance choreographer and principal male dancer.
Denis Carey, from Newport, Co. Tipperary, by trade a musician, composer and arranger, served as the musical director and played keyboards, among other instruments. Carey was helped enormously by an excellent violinist, Fran O’Donnell, who produced “Style” and wrote the show’s slim but engaging script, the main function of which was to move the event from number to number, stopping along the way to supply “Ireland’s greatest dance master” with a few bland anecdotes and to allow the frock-coated master of revels to try out his American accent from time to time.
“Style” was created for the Bunratty Folk Park, where it is now in its third season.
The show benefited enormously from the participation of the Dublin-born, Juilliard-trained lyric soprano Maire O’Brien, who sang first “Galway Bay” and then “Danny Boy,” eliciting an obviously heartfelt response from the capacity audience at Town Hall.
But on a certain level, it was the dancers the crowd had come to see and hear, and they weren’t disappointed, as the performers’ fast-moving feet sent what sounded like volley after volley of machinegun fire resounding and echoing through the auditorium on 43rd Street.
Most of the time, the dance numbers were performed by an aggregation of eight girls and two boys, but when director O’Donnell rallied his full company, the numbers rose to 13 girls and 4 boys, with the former decked out in blazingly colorful costumes inspired by The Book of Kells.

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