How to Be Irish In Philly This Week
Talk about an embarrassment of riches. There are two great Irish plays on stage in the region.
The Inis Nua Theater Company, the only company in Philadelphia dedicated to producing contemporary plays from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, is presenting “Made in China,” set in a re-imagined Dublin underworld, Made in China involves martial artists, rogue cops, savage lowlifes and a curious love of snack foods. A dreadful accident creates a tug of war between two criminal footsoldiers over the loyalty of a third. Self-loathing, guilt, loneliness and black, black humor emerge in this frenzied narrative, culminating in a blistering battle for survival. The play was written by Dublin native Mark O’Rowe. It’s at the Adrienne
Theater, 2030 Sansom Street, in Philadelphia.
At the Arden Theater, the Tony-nominated Broadway hit, “The Seafarers,” will be playing through June 14. It’s set at a boozy poker game on Christmas evening in Ireland and involves a group of men, brought together by their own misfortunes. James “Sharkey” Harkin, an alcoholic who has recently returned to live with his blind, aging brother, Richard Harkin, attempts to stay off the bottle during the holidays. But he has to contend with the hard-drinking Richard and his own haunted conscience.
On May 24, the Commodore Barry Club of New York makes its annual trek to join the Philadelphia Barry Club for a mass at Old St. Mary’s Church, where Commodore John Barry is buried, a wreath-laying at the Barry statue near Independence Hall, and dining and dancing at the Irish Center with the Vince Gallagher Band.
If it’s Memorial Day, Blackthorn must be playing at Canstatter’s German Club in the Northeast, and they are.
On Thursday, come join Marianne MacDonald and me for a viewing of “Songbirds, The First Ladies of Irish Song,” an Irish TV special featuring singer Fil Campbell performing the music that a generation of Irish grew up with, all of which were originally performed by Delia Murphy,Maggie Barry, Mary O’Hara, Ruby Murray or Bridie Gallagher. The curtain goes up at 8 PM at the Irish Center. The bar will be open and we’ll have some free treats for the audience.
Things stay as quiet as they ever are (sessions every night, hurling practice, regular events at the Irish Center) until next weekend when the on-air radiothon begins to help raise $36,000 to keep the WTMR Irish radio shows on the air for another year. Move your dial to 800 AM at 11 AM through 1 PM and call in your pledge to keep the Vince Gallagher Irish Radio Hour and Marianne MacDonald’s “Come West Along the Road” playing your favorite songs. St. Patrick’s Parade Director Michael Bradley will kick off the month-long event. For those of you who don’t know Michael Bradley, he’s a force of nature with a great sense of humor, a rabid Penn State alum whose emails end with a quote from Joe Paterno, “Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things.” He’s one of those people who, as they say, “can talk the birds out of the trees.” Tune in and you’ll see that resistance is futile.
After the radiothon event, there’s a benefit brunch at the Auld Dubliner in Gloucester City, NJ, with music and food. It’s a great place, just over the bridge from Philadelphia. I spent St. Patrick’s Day there and fell in love with the place, which will remind you of your favorite pub at home (or that place you wish was your home).
Next Saturday, the Irish Center will be rocking. So rocking, you might be able to hear it in Upper Darby. The Dublin City Ramblers and the Camden County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums are playing a double bill. The Ramblers have been wowing audiences for more than 25 years and have eight gold records for their mix of folk music, ballads, and comedy.