Mary Poppins and Bert the Chimney Sweep took top honors in the Delco Gaels’ “Dancing Like a Star” fundraiser last week.
In their real lives, the winners are really Letterkenny, County Donegal, native Brendan Bradley (as Bert), a Gaels’ coach and brother of last year’s winner Louie Bradley, Gaels’ chairman, and his dance partner, Miriam Gallagher, a pre-school teacher from Glenties, also in County Donegal. The two did a rollicking dance number to a song from the Disney movie, “Mary Poppins” that took them into the audience and, in the case of Gallagher, into the lap of someone in the audience.
More than 700 people crowded into the spacious Springfield Country Club Ballroom to watch four couples—many of whom didn’t know each other until January, when rehearsals began—perform three ballroom dances for a panel of judges and, like the TV show on which it’s based, for audience votes.
Those votes came in the form of donations to the Delaware County Gaels, the largest youth Gaelic sports organization in the area. For the first time in five years, the voting was very close in the fundraiser, which grows rather than wanes in popularity. The quality of the performances and the sheer commitment of the dancers may have played a role. One contestant, Derry native Gary O’Neil, even shaved off his facial hair between the first two numbers and the last to be a more authentic Johnny Cash to Sally O’Brien’s June Carter in their solo performance. O’Neil, a musician, also did his own guitar playing and singing.
And for the first time, a couple of the performances included Irish dance–including the Mario Brothers’ dance featuring McDade-Cara School of Dance owner and instructor Sheila McGrory Sweeney.
The show is expertly choreographed by dance educator Jennifer Cleary, one of the owners of McKenna’s Kitchen and Market in Havertown, and Lisa P. Oster, a dance educator and nonprofit administrator originally from Canada but who now lives in Media.
Below you can see photos of all of the dancers and dance numbers. You can also view them here.