CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- From "Galway to Broadway" was the Charleston Music Association's St. Patrick's Day offering. Although the music was lovely and Ciarán Sheehan's voice was something otherworldly, the concert lacked continuity, was disjointed and overly long. With a combination of show tunes and traditional Irish music the audience would have been better served if there had been a clear delineation of the two.
Instead, a pedestrian version of the campy song "Wonderful Guy" from "South Pacific" led straight into one of the most poignant heart-rending versions of "Danny Boy" ever heard.
It was difficult to switch gears and the entire show plodded on this way, ripping back and forth between musical styles and eras. It felt as though the performers were simply picking songs at random as long as they had some tenuous connection either to Broadway or Ireland.
There was also entirely too much prattle between pieces. Endless and seemingly pointless oration went on before each and every number.
Sheehan went so far as to make sure the audience knew a heifer was a young female cow before he finally sang an absolutely hysterical and charming version of "McBreen's Heifer." This is a truly funny, little Irish folk song about a father who tries to sweeten the pot for his homelier daughter's hand by promising her suitors a cow. The song is quite self-explanatory.
Originally from Dublin, Sheehan might have feared a cultural barrier prevented full comprehension of the songs. However, it came across as mildly patronizing and took away from the music, especially because he chatted on in between every song.
Adrienne McKeown performed as Sheehan's female counterpart. She had an attractive voice and, according to the program, had performed multiple times on Broadway. She seemed overly nervous for such a small intimate venue and did not hit her stride until after intermission.
In the second half of the show she performed two standout pieces. "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Misérables" and "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" from "Phantom of the Opera." Both were lovely, haunting and layered with emotion.
Comprising the instrumental part of the ensemble were Heather Martin Bixler on violin and Sue Anderson on piano. Both were absolutely fantastic.
Apparently Anderson had only recently joined the group and was playing some of the songs for the first time this evening. No one could tell. She was flawless and adorable. She alleviated some of the monotony of the talking by playing cute little snippets of appropriate songs garnering chuckles and snorts from the audience.
Bixler was a standout on the violin, shifting seamlessly between classical Broadway pieces and quick-paced Irish fiddle music. During both halves she did a solo of Irish numbers and showed her talents, mourning with the audience through poignant ballads and dancing them through spritely reels and jigs. She was absolutely lovely.Overall the music of the show was excellent. Each piece alone was done quite nicely. The problem was that none of the pieces seemed to belong together and the talking in between was excessive.