If your roots even come close to Ireland, you need to pay a visit to Davis Square. The Davis Square Theatre is currently showing “The Irish…and How They Got That Way,” a witty, ironic–and nostalgic–account of the rich Irish culture, heritage and history. With a few mentions here and there about their love for whiskey.
Written by the late, great Pulitzer-winner Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes, ‘Tis), “The Irish…And How They Got That Way” is a musical that will leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling if you’re Irish. Not to say you have to bleed green to enjoy the play.
The multi-talented cast blows you away from the beginning. Meredith Beck impresses the crowd with her reenactment of a stereotypical Irish mom–nothing short of hilarious–and her beauty. Janice Landry (strangely, the only red-haired actor in an Irish cast) smiles for about 80 percent of the play. The other 20 percent of the time, she’s belting notes like it was her job (OK, fine, it is). Irene Molloy wraps up this trio of women and proves to be the most talented of the three, producing beautiful notes both with her voice and the guitar.
On the masculine part of the cast, Gregg Hammer may sometimes try too hard to make the audience laugh, but his talent is undeniable. Just wait until you hear him sing “Danny Boy.”
But, the absolute best part of the show is the duo composed by Andrew Crowe and Jon Dykstra. Crowe steals the show with his humor alone, while Dykstra (who also serves as the play’s musical director) is so unbelievably talented with any instrument that it makes you want to ask him for piano lessons right there and then.
The cast does a great job of commenting on the people of Ireland’s history without missing a beat. “The George M. Cohan Medley” is the premier example. While singing and dancing, they manage to convey the message that, yes, George M. Cohan was an Irish-American who completely reinvented the American entertainment industry.
Naturally, some performances are better than others. “No Irish Need Apply/Irish Washerwoman” entertains with its creative usage of washboards and pencils as instruments, but it’s easy to be disappointed by the rendition of U2?s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” It seems the song was put into the play with the logic that “it’s an Irish play, and U2?s Irish, so it has to be in there.” A shame to a show that mostly inspires and captivates, but it is hardly a deal breaker. Some might also be offended by the constant mention of whiskey and beer, but we’ll let that slide.
So, grab your shamrock, wear your best green shirt and pay a visit to the Davis Square Theatre. “The Irish…And How They Got That Way” will be performed every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday until March 10th and is a must for any theatre and musical lovers in Somerville.