Celtic Woman's Destiny premiered tonight in Nashville in the first of a two-night stand constituting the show opener in the US. The show opened to a large and what later evolved into an appreciative audience. Most had probably seen broadcasts of the show on PBS stations, including the local Nashville station. But it was by no means exclusively attended by the locals, with forum members from NY City, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Kentucky and no doubt many other states represented.
An abbreviated review is offered tonight, hampered by the fact that I left my computer at home, operating here on a foreign computer, but the main hindrance is that the Destiny program at this point does not contain an individual listing of songs, much less in order. It may be said though that the program is mostly songs contained on the Destiny DVD/CD. Visual background is displayed on screens, as on the DVD. These backgrounds were very well-done, the action of the cast in the foreground integrated well, indicating a very good transition to a touring show, provided the same quality can be maintained at venues throughout the tour.
Gone are female choir-members Sarah Gannon and Edel Murphy, replaced by four male choir members: Joshua Hurley, Ronan Scolard, Glenn Murphy and Carl McGuire. The dancing as done by former choir-members Chris and Nicholas are gone--it's mainly singing from this choir, but good singing it is. I must say the one song in which the male choir voices did not in my opinion do full justice was in Orinoco Flow--though I don't know how male voices could have done any better job than these guys did with what were essentially female harmonies.
On guitar now is Tommy Buckley--I couldn't tell much about his playing until he let loose with a solo during the show's encore when all the musicians played solos. Then he showed his stuff and is obviously quite good! On Pipes was Darragh Murphy, who sounded good but whose appearance to the audience was largely obscured by a large opaque music stand. Darragh did not stand with bagpiper Anthony Byrne in Amazing Grace a la' Tommy Martin. Anthony sported a new drum which he played very proficiently, producing great sound.
Fran Green replaces Andy Reilly on the drum kit opposite Ray Fean, who with music director Eoghan O'Neill on bass, constitute the only remaining original instrumentalists. Ray has a solo number on the bodhran. Ray got a laugh from the crowd when at the first break in the number drew a "woo" from Linda Sterling on the front row. Ray turned teao the others "I told you so!"
Many probably wondered whether Meav Ni' Mhaolchatha, who besides singing, served as vocal director on Destiny, was there. Sadly, she was not. She is prominently displayed in a two-page spread in the program, rightfully recognizing her role in the creation and production of Destiny. The arrangements must have been adapted to be sung by the other vocalists, Mairead Carlin,Susan McFadden and Eabha McMahon. All were very comfortable in their singing, dancing and individual song introductions throughout.
Mairead Nesbitt performed fabulously in all her numbers, visibly igniting the crowd at various points. The show follows the convention of an ethereal lone opening appearance by our fiddler, as moving a scene as ever. Her numbers are interspersed with playful interactions with Eabha and Ray, much to the entertainment of the audience.
There is a new arrangement of Danny Boy with more movement and vocal variation. New arrangement for Nil Sen La' which has been added in a reprise as an encore number.
Each of the vocalists have moving numbers constituting show highlights. Notably, Susan's Sometimes A Prayer Will Do; Eabha's How Can I keep From Singing--a hymn which was surprisingly immediately followed by another hymn: Amazing Grace. Mairead Carlin's I See Fire and Like An Angel Passing Through My Room were remarkable numbers highlighting her versatility in singing and expression. The gowns were exquisite as Synan O'Mahony's dresses always are.
As stated initially, I'm hampered in not having a listing of all the songs and their order in the show. What I can say is, the initial nerves, mistakes in lighting, sound or choreography which one might expect with the first show were all absent. The excellence in all these phases of production and performance came through again in this first US performance of Destiny.
Pre-show Meet & Greets were re-instituted with this tour. It didn't get started until 6:45 for a show set to start at 7:30. Nevertheless, it went smoothly. Nobody appeared to be rushed. Photos were taken by PBS rep and the individual's camera. In the show itself, non-flash photography was permitted without incident. I will add photos I have taken, but not this night!
All-in-all, things could not have gone more smoothly for this US premiere of Destiny. With some changes to the Program, it will be a top-notch production worthy to carry the name Celtic Woman.
Meet & Greet after the show!
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