An Irish Christmas Show shines at Fordham University


It is always a bit of a risk to move from comfortable surroundings and a smaller venue where there are not a multiplicity of factors at play for your performance.

But there are times when you have worked hard to make a production the best it can be and you seek validation of a wider audience, even if you have had success at your home base. 

If you can pull it off there is so much more to gain, so that is what infused the brain trust that produces the annual show An Irish Christmas: A Musical Solstice Celebration at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan to move uptown to the Bronx and the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University for a one-time show this past Sunday afternoon.

It was an outstanding success and the crowd might have hit 700 since some climbed into the balcony area for the historic concert, the first time that Dr. Mick Moloney and his gallant band had performed in a show on the campus. 

A frequent visitor to the radio station WFUV (90.7 FM or wfuv.org) in Keating Hall, Moloney jumped at the chance to do a Christmas show there when WFUV assistant producer Liz Noonan and Irish Arts Center executive director Aidan Connolly first concocted a plan.

The grand plan included recording of the show for later WFUV broadcasts over the next two weekends (the 16th from 4-6 p.m. and the 22nd from 10 a.m.-noon). 

Of course, doing the show in the much larger Leonard Auditorium of Fordham Preparatory School gave them more logistical hurdles and coordination between different professional operations.  But it all worked well and the audience was well entertained.

Moloney took a few of the elements that worked very well in past Christmas shows and added new material as well to reflect his more universal view of the season which is not only eclectic but opportunistic when you can call on the quality of New York City performers like Grace Nono, a Filipino chantress with both an academic and artistic interest in her native music with a spiritual purpose.

Likewise Tamar Korn can easily jump from early jazz to Yiddish theater music, and it all fits in handily.

Moloney’s hand picked regulars Athena Tergis, Billy McComiskey, Liz Hanley, Niall O’Leary and this year Donna Long all know their roles and deliver them flawlessly and better each year. Macdara Vallely’s mummers skits are a very welcome bit of comic relief also.

Uptown or downtown, kudos for another wonderful edition of An Irish Christmas on stage.   And the CD is one that you will cherish in your Christmas collection.  The show runs until December 22 at the Irish Arts Center 

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