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Arts and Entertainment

Twice upon a time

By R.J. Donovan, Special to the Reporter, special to the BIR, May 1, 2014

Aimee Doherty journeys “Into The Woods”
Fairy tales are filled with princes and witches and monsters and magic.  Whatever trials the characters face, the stories usually build to a happily-ever-after ending.  But did you ever wonder what happened after that?
That’s the jumping off point for “Into The Woods,” the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine retelling of some of the world’s most enduring fairy tales.  Lyric Stage Company presents the 1987 Tony Award-winning musical from May 9 to June 15. Read more

From history to the theatre, Simmons has a story to tell

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

By R. J. Donovan
Special To The BIR

As a writer, director and arts administrator, Dawn M. Simmons wears a lot of hats. For the past nine years she has been director of programs at StageSource, the respected non-profit that provides leadership and services to advance the art of theater in the Greater Boston region.
Among its missions, StageSource is dedicated to increasing cultural participation through advocacy, communication, and education. Read more

Bridget Fitzgerald CD project

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

By Sean Smith
The recordings that Bridget Fitzgerald kept from her unreleased album with Carol Barney were deeply loved treasures – reminders of a partnership, and friendship, that ended far too soon when Barney died 14 years ago this month.
But Fitzgerald, a founding member of Cherish the Ladies and a widely recognized wellspring of traditional Irish song from Connemara who has lived in New England for 50 years, never let go of her desire to finish the project. And now, thanks to the assistance and encouragement of a group of friends, the album will finally see the light of day. Read more

Bud Sargent: A chat with the maestro of ‘Four Green Fields’

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

This year, Bud Sargent is celebrating three decades as a broadcaster of Irish music and culture via “Four Green Fields,” Saturdays from 10 a.m.-noon on WCUW, 91.3 FM (and via the web at A native of Worcester who works as an attorney for his “day job,” Sargent also has become a high-profile promoter for Irish music events in and around Central Massachusetts. He recently spoke with Sean Smith of the Boston Irish Reporter about his 30 years behind the mike. Read more

Brendan Tonra: Musician, poet, giver, wit – the real deal

By Susan Lindsay, special to the BIR, February 27, 2014

Early last month, on Feb. 3, Boston lost Brendan Tonra, a 78-year old fiddler and composer of Irish traditional dance tunes. who passed away peacefully at after a short but intense battle with cancer. To his three daughters and their families, it was the loss of a father and grandfather. To his longtime musical partner pianist, Helen Kisiel, it was the loss of a soulmate. To his musician friends in Boston and beyond, it was a loss of a direct connection to the continuum of traditional music of Ireland. To me, it was the loss of an inspiration and friend, because when it came to Irish music and Irish people, Brendan was the real deal. Read more

Mass. Cultural Council honor for BC faculty’s Jimmy Noonan

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, February 27, 2014

Jimmy Noonan, a faculty member in the Music Department and Irish Studies Program at Boston College, is the recipient of a $10,000 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship award. The fellowships “recognize exceptional work by Massachusetts artists across a range of disciplines,” according to the MCC website. “These highly competitive awards provide artists crucial validation among their peers and the public. They catalyze artistic advancement and pave the way for creative innovation of enduring cultural value.” Read more

For 60 years, Rita O’Shea Chaplin has been teaching Irish dance, and building a ‘family’ along the way

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, February 27, 2014

It’s a dead-of-winter Saturday, but things are quite lively inside the German International School Boston building in Brighton where some three dozen students of the O’Shea-Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance are going through their paces.
Three groups of dancers, from elementary school to college age, are spread out in the gymnasium/auditorium, while a fourth group rehearses on the stage. Hard-shoe choruses reverberate through the room as O’Shea-Chaplin teachers scrutinize each group’s progress, occasionally yelling out an instruction or offering a compliment. Read more

Heartbeat of Home’ sweeps Irish dance into new millennium

By R.J.Donovan, special to the BIR, February 27, 2014

“Heartbeat of Home” could rightfully be called “Riverdance” for the new millennium, taking Irish dance to the next level. When the exuberant production makes its East Coast debut at the Citi Wang Theatre from March 26 to April 6, Boston audiences will be among the first to see the show The Irish Mail on Sunday dubbed “jaw dropping.”
More than three years ago, the “Riverdance” team of John McColgan and Moya Doherty had a vision for a new theatrical project, one that would fuse the vibrant rhythms of Irish, Latin and Afro-Cuban music and dance. Ultimately, it would be both a love story showing what happens when these cultures meet and the dream voyage of those who were forced to travel for the sake of a better life. Read more

BCM Fest Thrills 1,100

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, January 31, 2014

The 11th annual BCMFest (January 10 and 11) drew more than 1,100 people to Harvard Square to see some of the Boston area’s best Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton musicians, dancers and singers. The festival, a program of Passim, began the night of January 10 with the “Roots & Branches” Concert in Club Passim and the Boston Urban Ceilidh down the street at The Atrium; both events were sold out. Read more

A Long Way to Tipperary . . . or to Slane

By Thomas O'Grady, special to the BIR, January 31, 2014

For the past few weeks, I have been thumbing back and forth through a massive hot-off-the-press coffee table book, The Great War: a Photographic Narrative. A project of Great Britain’s Imperial War Museums, the book offers a starkly candid photographic record of the horrific reality of life in the various “theatres” that constituted World War I: the trenches and the battlefields of the Western Front, of course, but also the beaches and the slopes of Gallipoli, the Zeppelin-bombed streets of England, the deserts of the Middle East, and the high seas. For the most part, this gathering of images is not for the faint of heart.
Obviously, the publication of this book anticipates the centenary of The Great War—1914-1918. It thus holds intrinsic interest for anyone invested in Irish matters: More than 200,000 Irishmen enlisted in the British forces and more than 30,000 died in combat. No doubt the next four years will see this under-written chapter of Irish history given its long overdue attention—and appropriate commemoration—by scholars, by the Irish government, and by the general public. Read more