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Bucks County Center for the Performing Arts opens with “The Irish and How They Got That Way”

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BCCPA is back! The long, dark, live performing arts drought is ending and Bucks County Center for the Performing Arts is among the first to present live theater starting with the sweet, delightfully entertaining musical, “The Irish and How They Got That Way.”
It should be even more wonderful than it was the first time in 2017 when few theater patrons knew what to expect.
It was just four years ago that Howard Perloff started the Bucks County Center for the Performing Arts, utilizing the stage at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown to present the first musical.
Being relatively unknown, “The Irish” was not particularly well-attended at first. But those who saw it raved about it.
Big shows followed that little musical for two years: “My Fair Lady,” Cabaret,” “The Producers” … but then, after two seasons of successful theater and musical theater, the center had to close as did all performing groups because of the pandemic.
Perloff’s persistence, willingness and sheer optimism had him planning for a 2021 season many months before he could be certain that COVID would be sufficiently controlled so that he could schedule. Now, BCCPA is opening sooner than other local theaters.
After seeing “The Irish” for the first time in 2017, I wrote some of these words in my review:
“In this musical, three talented men and women sing, act, dance, and alternately play one of more than 20 instruments including a piano, various strings, flute, different types of drums, and other percussion instruments.
“But it is not just instruments, they also play our heart strings. We are affected as they tell and sing the stories of the trials, poverty and famine the Irish people experienced and why so many of them immigrated to America where they impacted American culture.
“It isn’t just the music that makes this production so much fun, it is the always-varied, always-interesting pictures these same six performers create constantly. Each is different and delightful, with dancing designed by choreographer Maria Logan.”

In the cast once again, are delightful Bucks County native Meredith Beck, bringing vast experience to the role. Next is Janice Landry who has been part of the Galway Girls founded by Beck, and she has toured with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra as a singer. Caitlin Sheridan McKechney, with her rich voice, often stars in opera productions and is a member of the Opera Cowgirls band.
The three terrific men are tenor Brandon Lambert, a true Irishman, Martin Landry, the tallest troupe member, primary pianist and husband of Janice, and charmingly handsome Alexander Sovronsky, who plays even more instruments, he told me, than we see him play on stage.
This year, “The Irish” will play seven live performances from June 22 to 27 in the theater of the Life/Science Building on the campus of Delaware Valley University on Route 202 (700 E. Butler Ave.) in Doylestown, just west of Doylestown Hospital. There are matinee performances at 2 p.m. and evening performances at 8 p.m. on select days.
Second on the slate is “Good Night Gracie.” In it, Tony Braithwaite portrays the marvelous comedian, George Burns, for seven performances July 7 to 11. Braithwaite is an outstanding actor-comedian known locally for his work a the Ambler professional theater where he produces, directs and performs.
And, finally, concluding the season is the pièce de resistance: the beloved, infrequently performed musical “South Pacific,” written primarily in Bucks County by Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers but set in a land far away. It opens Aug. 5 and plays for 27 performances from Aug. 9 to 22, This should be spectacular!
I was fortunate enough to see “South Pacific” for the first time in New York City as a freshman in college when Ezio Pinza (“Some Enchanted Evening”) and Mary Martin (“I’m Going to Wash That Man Right Out of my Hair”) were still playing on Broadway. And of course, the sailors hilariously singing “Bloody Mary” was delicious to see. This could be the first time Oscar Hammerstein’s great-grandson will see his grandfather’s show live.
Having not seen a professional production of “South Pacific” since 1952. I am overwhelmed with anticipation of seeing it repeatedly in August this summer.
Tickets for all three summer shows are $99 or $49 for just one. Seats are reserved and selling briskly. This particular music seldom is performed locally and professionally. It is an opportunity not to be missed.
For information, and reservations, go to BCCPA.org or call 215-297-8540.


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