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Arts and Entertainment

Family ties distinguish two bands who will play at the Irish Cultural Centre in August

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, July 31, 2013

Two family-based bands with different approaches to Irish music will make appearances this month at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton.
On Aug. 3, the ICCNE will feature Michigan quartet Finvarra’s Wren as part of the center’s Tiny Cottage Series. And on Aug. 23, the Makem and Spain Brothers will perform an outdoor concert. Both events begin at 8 p.m. Read more

Tristan MacManus brings dancer’s sizzle to sparkling version of ‘Ballroom With A Twist’

By R.J.Donovan, special to the BIR, July 31, 2013

Dust off your dancing shoes, because several of the professionals from “Dancing With The Stars” are hitting the road and bringing the sizzle straight to New England. From the Samba to the Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, Jive and more, the evening promises a frenzy for the eyes and ears.
“Ballroom With A Twist,” starring Tristan MacManus, Peta Murgatroyd, and Anna Trebunskaya with an international company of dancers including finalists from “So You Think You Can Dance,” is coming to North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly on August 8 and 9. “DWTS” 2013 Champ Derek Hough will also be making an exclusive appearance in Beverly along with “American Idol” finalist Melinda Doolittle. (“Ballroom” also plays Cape Cod Playhouse through August 3 and The Ogunquit Playhouse from August 27 through 31, although some casting is subject to change.) Read more

Devri the band: a fetching blend of personalities and temperaments

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, July 31, 2013

Devri, a band? Don’t tell them that – they’re too busy having a good time.
OK, yes, Devri is in fact a band, for all practical purposes. But Devri also defies the conventional idea of the “Irish band from Boston” in a few ways:
Start with the band’s name: Contrary to expectations, “Devri” is not an obscure Celtic deity, or some long-lost hamlet out on the Aran Islands, or a Gaelic word referring to food, drink, or sport (or all of the above). And what’s more, the band members didn’t even choose the name themselves – it was thought up practically on the spot by a photographer covering one of their gigs, based on the initials of those members who happened to be playing at the time. Read more

Féile Cheoil Boston debut earns high marks

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, July 3, 2013

It was a promising debut for Féile Cheoil Boston, as some 60 musicians and singers from greater Boston and eastern Massachusetts signed up to take part in instrument and vocal competitions among several different categories at the event, held June 22 in Melrose.
But organizers with the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Boston School of Music were looking at more than numbers as indicators of success for the Féile, which was established to showcase the talents of area Irish musicians – especially young ones – and celebrate the Irish tradition’s presence in Boston. Read more

Lyric First Stage nurtures tomorrow’s artists today

By R.J.Donovan, special to the BIR, July 3, 2013

Where do tomorrow’s actors, directors, and theater professionals come from? Many teenage theater students start in programs such as that of Lyric First Stage.
Lyric First Stage is a unique, five-week summer program operated by Lyric Stage Company of Boston for 25 young artists, ages 14 to 20. The program creates an environment where a company of enthusiastic teens, working alongside professional mentors, can explore and refine their confidence and artistry. Participants generally come from local communities. However, past seasons have included young people from as far away as Israel and Mexico. Read more

Fleadh achievers reflect on what they got out of it

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, July 3, 2013

For some Boston-area Irish musicians, early summer might be called Between-the-Fleadhs season. It’s the period following the Mid-Atlantic Fleadh Cheoil – the annual regional Irish music competition, which this year took place May 10-12 in Parsippany, NJ – and the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, or “the All-Irelands” as it’s often called, the summit of Irish music competitions.
Those fiddlers, accordionists, flutists, singers, and others who participated in the May fleadh are reflecting on the experience, while a subset – those who placed first or second in their particular age, instrument, and performance categories – are also making (or trying to make) plans for the All-Irelands, which will be held for the first time at a Northern Ireland location, in Derry, from Aug.12 to Aug.18. Read more

Colin Hamell explores lost dreams of The Titanic

By R.J.Donovan, special to the BIR, June 3, 2013

From Hollywood to Broadway, the world has long romanticized the sinking of the Titanic. Further, the story of the 1912 tragedy has focused strongly on the ship being a luxury liner that took to its watery grave a fairly well-to-do list of passengers.
What many people don’t realize is that the Titanic – the largest ship in the world at the time – was designed to transport emigrants. And, that it was built in the shipyards of Belfast.
These two points play a pivotal role in the Tir Na Theatre production of the new play, “Jimmy Titanic,” being presented by New Repertory Theatre in Watertown June 19 to 30. Directed by Carmel O’Reilly, the production had its world premiere last fall at the Origin Irish Theatre Festival in New York. Following a run in Philadelphia, “Jimmy Titanic” made its Irish debut in Donegal in April.
By Belfast journalist-turned-playwright Bernard McMullan, the play is set 100 years after the disaster in the north Atlantic, revisiting the journey of Jimmy Boylan and Tommy Mackey, two proud, young, Belfast shipyard workers aboard the ship’s ill-fated voyage. Read more

The Yanks are coming’ – to the Burren- Backroom series feature on June 19

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, June 3, 2013

A New York City-based Irish band called The Yanks might seem a tough sell in the hub of Red Sox Nation, but Bostonians shouldn’t leap to conclusions: As fiddler Dylan Foley explains, he and his mates did not choose the moniker as a tribute to a certain baseball team.
“ ‘Yanks’ are what the Irish call obnoxious Americans, and we are Americans playing Irish music,” says Foley. “And we are obnoxious – sometimes.” Read more

Reading Joyce Reading À Paris

By Ed Forry, June 3, 2013

I am sitting on the terrace of a café in Paris—in Place de la Contrascarpe, to be exact. In 1921, when James Joyce was putting the finishing touches on Ulysses, he lived just around the corner, in a flat loaned to him by French author Valery Larbaud on a courtyard at number 71, rue Cardinal Lemoine. What better place to thumb through the French novel that purportedly gave Joyce the idea for what is known as “the interior monologue,” the predominant narrative strategy of Ulysses? According to his preeminent biographer, Richard Ellmann, Joyce picked up Les lauriers sont coupés by Édouard Dujardin at a railway kiosk in Paris in 1903—and the rest is literary history: “in later life, no matter how diligently the critics worked to demonstrate that he had borrowed the interior monologue from Freud, Joyce always made it a point of honor that he had it from Dujardin.” Read more

Books: Mary Robinson pens a compelling autobiography

By BY PETER F. STEVENS, special to the BIR, April 8, 2013

‘Everybody Matters’ mirrors an Irish woman and world humanitarian named Robinson
By Peter F. Stevens
BIR Staff

“Everybody matters” – surely those are two words with which countless people agree. What truly matters, however, is how few live up to those words. That precept is not only the title of Mary Robinson’s compelling new autobiography, but also the core conviction that has guided virtually every step of her life on the world stage. Read more