Skip to content

Arts and Entertainment

Early fall concerts slate: Lots going on

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, August 29, 2014

Greater Boston’s early fall Irish/Celtic concert slate includes a rare duet appearance by Beoga members Niamh Dunne and Sean Og Graham and a concert by new “super group” The Alt, both at The Burren, and a performance by one of Scotland’s most enduring and popular bands, the Tannahill Weavers, at a new location for the notloB Parlour Series.

• The Somerville-based Burren welcomes Dunne and Graham as part of its “Backroom” series on Sept. 10. The two are an integral part of Beoga, regarded as one of the most inventive and exciting groups to emerge in 21st-century Ireland. Read more

In the works: ‘Dancing at the Crossroads’ – one man’s look back at the ‘Irish Catskills’

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, August 29, 2014

It’s a sad but true fact of life, says Arlington resident Kevin Ferguson: Sometimes it takes a tragic event to spur you to start that project you’ve always been meaning to do. Read more

Backstage at ‘The Lion King’: Tending to the fetching jungle

By R.J. Donovan, special to the BIR, August 29, 2014

Sue McLaughlin, with three of the many puppets and masks she tends to backstage at Disney’s “The Lion King,” playing the Boston Opera House September 9 - October 12. 	Photo by Selena MoshellSue McLaughlin, with three of the many puppets and masks she tends to backstage at Disney’s “The Lion King,” playing the Boston Opera House September 9 - October 12. Photo by Selena Moshell

Somewhere in the depths beneath Boston’s Opera House lies a home and hospital for the extraordinary puppets that come to life nightly in Disney’s “The Lion King.”  One of the guardians of this theatrical ménage of giraffes, hyenas, and gazelles is the company’s Puppet Assistant, Sue McLaughlin. 

A native of Milford, NH, Sue has been working her magic with “The Lion King” for 16 years.  She was initially hired as a dresser with the original Broadway company, working closely with the Scar and Zazu puppets.  More recently, she has been applying her professional touch with the national touring company, which plays the Opera House from Sept. 9 to Oct. 12.

McLaughlin studied theater at Hofstra University and has a master of professional studies in art therapy from Pratt Institute.  Originally pursuing an acting career, she eventually found her calling backstage, building an impressive list of credits at Lincoln Center where she was part of the wardrobe department for prestigious productions of “Carousel,” “The Heiress,” and “A Delicate Balance.”  

We spoke by phone about her work with “The Lion King” during the show’s Washington, DC, run.  Here’s an edited look at our conversation. Read more

From Broadway to Boston Common

By R.J. Donovan, special to the BIR, August 1, 2014

Broadway actress and Nashua native Kerry O’Malley.Broadway actress and Nashua native Kerry O’Malley.

The Broadway actress Kerry O’Malley is currently spending her evenings on Boston Common appearing as Olivia in Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s production of “Twelfth Night.”   

Directed by Steven Maler, the Bard’s classic comedy of love in disguise runs through August 10.  All performances are free and open the public. Read more

Sharon Shannon shows set at Burren, Cultural Centre

By BIR News Room, August 1, 2014

Sharon ShannonSharon Shannon

Sharon Shannon has played with the likes of The Waterboys, Christy Moore, Jackson Browne, Frankie Gavin, Michael McGoldrick, Sinead O’Connor, and the RTE Concert Orchestra, among others, while taking her masterful Irish accordion playing (not to mention fiddle and whistle) on excursions through Appalachian, country, rock, hip-hop, reggae and Portuguese music. She has performed for Bill Clinton and Lech Walesa, and appeared in a charming music video frolicking with her dogs.
This month, the Clare native will be stopping in the Boston area for shows on Aug. 6 and 7 at The Burren in Somerville as part of the pub’s Backroom series, and on Aug. 8 at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton. She recently spoke with the BIR’s Sean Smith.
Read more

Irish fests at Music Circus, Melody Tent, and much more

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, August 1, 2014

The South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset will hold its first-ever Irish music festival on Aug. 21, featuring renowned fiddler Eileen Ivers and her world-music band Immigrant Soul, along with The Fighting Jamesons and Celtica: Pipes Rock. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the concert begins at 7 p.m. Read more

An unforgettable trip to Calvary – via Sligo

By Peter Stevens, BIR Staff, special to the BIR, August 1, 2014

“Calvary” is a darkly brilliant film that tackles emotional, cultural, and religious, and regional issues on a cinematic canvas both broad and insular. That may read oxymoronic, but writer-director John Michael McDonagh and a splendid cast pull off exactly that. Among that cast, as Sligo priest “Father James,” Brendan Gleeson delivers one of the finest performances of his stellar career. So, too, do Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Dylan Moran, Aidan Gillen, and the rest of the troupe. Read more

Much ado as festival makers strut stuff

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, July 2, 2014

Kathleen Parks and Ricky Mier of the band Cat and the Moon share a duet during the Boston Irish Festival music weekend. 	Sean Smith photoKathleen Parks and Ricky Mier of the band Cat and the Moon share a duet during the Boston Irish Festival music weekend. Sean Smith photo

Dancers small, tall, and in between swarmed the Irish Cultural Centre of New England campus June 14 for the second Boston Irish Festival Feis, a day of Irish step dance competitions that attracted some 450 participants of various ages and levels from across the Northeast, as well as from Toronto, South Carolina, and even New Zealand.
Co-organized with the Harney Academy of Irish Dancing, the Feis was the third of three consecutive weekend Boston Irish Festival events celebrating popular Irish pursuits at the Canton-based ICCNE, which is marking its 25th anniversary. On May 31, the festival featured a day of sporting events – notably hurling and Gaelic football – and children’s activities. The middle portion of the festival, June 6-7, showcased top-line Irish/Celtic acts Black 47, The Screaming Orphans, and Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, as well as numerous musical performers from the Greater Boston area and elsewhere in the region.
Misty, murky weather greeted the Feis, and a steady, 45-minute drizzle at mid-day posed a potential threat to the styled hair and make-up sported by some of the competitors. But most of those present, being pretty experienced in matters of feis, seemed unperturbed by the damp and focused on the task at hand – although a number of younger dancers found the temptation of the center’s playground facilities irresistible. Read more

From Worcester to Broadway: Tony Award winner McGrath bringing ‘The Odd Couple’ to Cape Playhouse

By R.J. Donovan, special to the BIR, May 30, 2014

Michael McGrath (pronounced McGraw) is a lucky guy. And he knows it. The Worcester native first came to the attention of Boston audiences in Gerard Alessandrini’s musical spoof “Forbidden Broadway” back in the 80s. He costarred with Toni DuBuono, the lady who would eventually become his wife.
Since that time, he has established a successful career on Broadway and beyond. Along the way he has picked up a Tony Award (along with Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle honors) for his role opposite Matthew Broderick and Kelly O’Hara in the Gershwin musical “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”
His impressive Broadway credits also include “Memphis,” “Born Yesterday,” “Wonderful Town,” and creating the role of Patsy, King Arthur’s long suffering sidekick, in “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” This month he returns to The Cape Playhouse in Dennis to play Oscar Madison in Neil Simon’s classic comedy “The Odd Couple” from June 9 to June 21. Read more

Larry Kirwan ruminates about the end of the run

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, May 30, 2014

For almost exactly a quarter-century, Black 47 has made raucous, often provocative, sometimes outrageous, and always full-hearted music, a distinctive brand of Irish/Celtic rock mixed with hip-hop, jazz, and reggae and imbued with a zeal for social justice and history – and an equally robust spirit of pride, fu,n and mischief.

But in November, 25 years to the date of their first gig, the band will ring down the curtain. Among the stops on their final tour will be the Boston Irish Festival, June 6-7 at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England [see separate story], where they’ve frequently appeared over the years throughout the festival’s various incarnations.
Recently, Black 47 co-founder, guitarist, lead vocalist, and songwriter Larry Kirwan shared his thoughts on the band’s legacy, their final album, “Last Call,” and a few more subjects, with Sean Smith of the Boston Irish Reporter.

Q. Any second thoughts or regrets within the band since announcing that this will be the last hurrah?
LK. I don’t think so. Of course, I can only speak for myself. But I reckon you make a big decision and then you go for it. Second-guessing life is no life. Read more