Names of famous Irish-Americans from various walks of life are rattled off, but the ultimate Irish-American patriot was George M. Cohan who made his mark on Broadway. An arc of six of his songs ranges from "Give My Regards to Broadway" to his classic nationalistic tunes, "You're a Grand Old Flag," "Over There," and "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Of course, the latter was made famous by James Cagney, another great Irish-American performer who won an Oscar for Best Actor in the 1942 motion picture of the same name that depicted Cohan's life. Four members of the troupe are featured in some Vaudeville patter and a little song and dance, choreographed by Lexington native son Sebastian Goldberg.
The Irish...And How They Got That Way is at its best during the musical numbers. As ardent as the winning ensemble is, they can't really inhabit the experiences that they are recounting, and McCourt glosses over a rather large swath of history in a short amount of time. Also, their Irish accents come and go, occasionally sounding authentic, but that's just a quibble. The six performers maintain their energy throughout and close with a foot-stomping, drum-pounding rendition of U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." The audience was really into it and, despite its diversity, at that moment, everyone was Irish.
Photo credit: Meredith Beck, Irene Molloy, Jon Dykstra, Andrew Crowe, Janice Landry, Gregg Hammer