LIVERMORE – Back by popular demand, “An Irish Christmas” returns to the Bankhead Theater in December with an exhilarating exhibition of Christmas magic from the Emerald Isle.
The show brings together all the joy, hope, laughter and spirit of the season with traditional songs, dances, and lively storytelling. From “Carol of the Bells” to ancient Irish hymns and melodies, “An Irish Christmas” is a unique and unforgettable experience that The Village News says, “leaves everyone with the urge to grab their loved ones and dance down the aisles.” Appearing in the production will be San Jose-based mezzo soprano Katherine Trimble, who has sung with Opera San Jose and was the inaugural recipient of the Irene Dalis Memorial Award at San Jose State University. Tickets are already selling quickly for the single performance at the Bankhead Theater on Thursday, Dec. 22, at 7:30 p.m.
The Bankhead Theater ticket office, 2400 First Street in Livermore, is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. On performance days the ticket office is open from two hours before to 30 minutes after the scheduled start of each show. Tickets are also available by phone (925) 373-6800, or online lvpac.org.
“An Irish Christmas” is produced by Kerry Irish Productions, an Irish-owned company based in Los Angeles that promotes and celebrates Irish culture and its rich traditions through the medium of dance. They incorporate often forgotten Irish customs and strive to forge new paths between old and new Irish dance styles. As with all their shows, “An Irish Christmas” represents the best of modern Ireland while also introducing audiences to the beauty, passion and uniqueness of their history.
Authentic Irish traditions and customs are cleverly woven into the show including buttermaking, shoemaking, and brush dances with brooms. One of the most lively is “Dancing on the Half Door,” a custom that highlights the importance of the half door in Irish social life. Mounted without a latch in the top of the frame, the half door admitted light and kept animals out, while fostering conversation and community interaction. On social occasions, the half door would be laid on the floor so dancers could show off their most intricate steps on its limited dimensions. Sometimes the door was even soaped to make the dances more challenging.
The music of Ireland, from soothing ballads to vigorous dance tunes, is performed on traditional instruments during “An Irish Christmas.” These include the bodhran, a frame drum whose history stretches back to the 14th century, and the uilleann pipes, a cousin of the more common Scottish bagpipes with a wider tonal range, which have gained increasing popularity with folk musicians.
A versatile mezzo-soprano Katherine Trimble received her Master’s degree in vocal performance from San Jose State University last year and was praised by The San Jose Mercury News for her “agile performance” as Lilas Pastia in Opera San Jose’s recent production of Bizet’s “Carmen.” Among her many other awards, Trimble was the first recipient of the Irene Dalis Memorial Award from San Jose State University, given in honor of Opera San Jose’s late founder. Trimble finds “An Irish Christmas” to be the ideal union of her classical music education and love of her heritage’s music and dance. Leading the Kerry Dance Troupe in “An Irish Christmas” will be principal dancer Scott Doherty, the 2009 men’s world champion of Irish dance. Doherty has performed worldwide on tour with Riverdance, Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance, and Gaelforce Dance, as well as created and produced his own Irish dance productions.