‘The Irish ... and How They Got That Way’ at Torrington’s Warner Theatre
“The Irish ... and How They Got That Way” is an uplifting musical that celebrates all things Irish, as seen through the eyes of Irish-American writer/teacher Frank McCourt, who was raised in the slums of Ireland.
The late McCourt earned a Pulitzer Prize for his memoir, “Angela’s Ashes,” in which he told the story of his childhood with great humor and compassion. He also wrote the book for the off-Broadway musical, “The Irish ... and How They Got That Way,” which will be performed at Warner Theatre’s Nancy Marine Studio Theatre in Torrington on Saturday, March 10, through Sunday, March 18.
When the musical was performed in 1997 at the Irish Repertory Theatre, it featured an eclectic mix of tunes, from the traditional “Danny Boy” to U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
Those two songs, along with “Finnegan’s Wake,” will be among the tunes in the Torrington show, which is directed by Meredith Porri and features original music arrangements by Rusty McGee.
Porri said she’s happy to be directing this show because it’s a beautiful story of Irish history. “When I first read it, it had me laughing and crying,” she said. “I knew it would be a challenge and an important project to work on.” She shared more via email.
Warner Theatre’s Nancy Marine Studio Theatre, 82 Main St., Torrington. Saturday, March 10, to Sunday, March 18. Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 8 p.m. $30. 860-489-7180, www.warnertheatre.org
Q: We understand this musical celebrates all things Irish from the 20th and 21st centuries. What are some subjects it touches upon?
A: This show covers the Irish potato famine, the immigration to America and even some of the U.S. presidents who hold connections to Ireland.
Q: McCourt is known for his razor-sharp wit, coupled with his trademark bitter irony and boundless love for the Irish. Can you give an example of this from the show?
A: There’s a very funny scene between an Irish housemaid and her mistress. I don’t want to give it all away, but let’s just say the Irish housemaid takes everything her mistress tells her literally, and it makes for a pretty funny scene.
Q: “The Irish ... and How They Got That Way” is described as a jovial, heartbreaking and inspiring tribute. It sounds like quite a challenge to work all that into one show. How did you accomplish it?
A: It is a bunch of vignettes, which creates a challenge all by itself. The cast consists of four ‘players’ who play multiple roles, from Irish to British to American. This cast is extremely versatile, which contributed greatly to the ease of rehearsals and beauty of this little gem of a show.
Q: What do you hope audiences will take away with them?
A: Our goal is to have them both laughing and crying throughout the show. There are moments that tug at every heartstring, and there are other moments that will have you rolling in the aisles. This show is for everyone, and I’m confident our cast of players will bring you a wonderful, engaging, funny and heartfelt show.
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