Vice President of Communications for The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory Lisa Condit spoke with Brian O’Donovan about A Virtual St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn which will be performed on Thursday, March 11. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Then tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Brian: I think what everybody misses most is the sense of being together around events and particularly around music and at The Hanover Theatre. Those rituals are being in the comfort of each other. We had a decision to make whether to sit out an entire year or more, or to come back and do something innovative using the technologies that were available to us. We’ve come up with a series of virtual concerts. We did one in December, which was very successful, again with The Hanover Theatre, that allowed people to gather virtually in the safety of their own homes and yet feel as if they were part of the central event.
The Singalong Creates Community
Lisa: One of the engaging and enjoyable parts of your shows is that singalong element because it is the audience participation that gets us every time. That is, I know, what is going to make Julius Caesar exciting this summer as well. There is that other piece, that shared experience, so you are having a singalong that people can participate in. So, tell us about that.
Brian: It’s a tradition of ours to finish the first half of the show with a tribute to that idea that everybody loves Irish music because it is participatory in many ways. And in this case, we’d love to have them join in a song that everybody knows called “The Leaving of Liverpool”, which would have been made famous by the singing of The Clancy Brothers and then we invite everybody to join in. That cannot happen in real time, so we have made it possible for people to join in with us virtually.
Lisa: Tell us a little bit about the song “The Leaving of Liverpool”. Why that song? Why is that so important?
Brian: Absolutely, well, it is a song about home. It’s a song about seafaring and seafaring is the perfect kind of analogy of what we have been on.
We have been on a voyage really, and we are looking forward to coming back and visiting with all the people that we love.
It’s like, so fare thee well, I know I’ll be back someday. That is what we know from this pandemic, we are going to be back together someday. So that symbolism is there, we are being tossed on the stormy ocean of isolation, and of fear, and worry and anxiety. We thought it was a fitting backdrop to this show. This song is optimistic and defiant, if you will.
A Talented Cast
Lisa: Tell us a little bit more about the cast, you have got some really great performers that are going to be a part of the show.
Brian: We do, they are great.
The purpose of this show, Lisa, is to bring people on a general tour around Irish music and culture and how it has influence around the world. This is an invitational, informal and lighthearted romp through that.
Because we are virtual, it gives us a tremendous opportunity because it allows us to visit some of these performers in their homes. We go up to Newfoundland, which has very strong Irish influence to hear the great singing of Matthew Byrne. Then, we will fly over to visit with Caitlín Nic Gabhann and Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, who were with us in the past in Worcester. When they returned from their tour here, they got married and had two beautiful twins, Frankie and Rosie, who we will see and visit as we listen to their music.
We have some exciting places to visit and music to explore. We look forward to people being with us.
This is something that really supports the theatre. The Hanover Theatre has been particularly active during this time and not just going home and closing the doors but seeing how they can keep people company during these lonely, isolating times. We are delighted and very proud to be partnered with them.
It’s also support of the music, the musicians themselves, and the support staff that are out there. Being with us is a statement that you support the arts, and we will be back stronger than ever.