As seems to be the case on a regular basis, People’s Bank Theatre was the place to be on St. Patrick’s Day. Wait—let me qualify that statement. It’s only if you’re into delicious food, tasty Irish libations, and some of the most rollicking Celtic music you’ve ever experienced. If you’re not into that, you probably should be glad you weren’t there.
It all started a little after 6:00 p.m., when my comely date and I presented our tickets to the welcoming staff, who directed us upstairs. There we were greeted by the tantalizing aroma of shepherd’s pie and cooked cabbage. Along with that came soda bread and all varieties of Irish beer. My date opted for wine, but ended up enjoying my beer more. The food and conversation were both quite enjoyable, as we talked of, among other topics, our anticipation for the upcoming presentation. I was excited because I had read that Skipper’s Alley, the entertainment for the evening, had been compared favorably to one of my favorite Irish bands, the venerable Chieftains.
After dinner, we found our seats, which we were excited to find were right in front of the stage. More warmly pleasant conversation and another drink were followed eventually by the introduction of Skipper’s Alley. Knowing what I know of the Chieftains, I was somewhat taken aback to find a group of five young men, all looking to be at most in their early thirties. But age was quickly no object, as they proved within a few notes that these were people with some mad musical chops. Three of the five performers played multiple instruments, ranging from guitar to banjo to uillean pipes (a much less obnoxious cousin to the better-known bagpipes) to flutes to Celtic tin whistles. The guitarist, the odd man out in that he was the one member of the ensemble who wasn’t from Ireland and the only person not to speak the whole evening, was nonetheless amazing.
The music ranged from quiet, mournful ballads to rocking reels and jigs and all were performed with great aplomb and enthusiasm. Some of the most entertaining moments, though, came in between songs when the members told the stories behind each song. Sarah Modesitt, a Marietta local and my date for the evening, was quite taken with them, stating, “those that spoke were funny/entertaining, if not a little goofy. She did, however, “wish Maine guy had spoken.” I had to agree. The accents were thick and the stories a mix of silly whimsy and patented Irish fatalism.
Between the food, beverages, the lovely company, and the unrivaled music, it was a truly special evening. I hear so often how there’s nothing fun to do in the Mid-Ohio Valley, but this event, along with so many others at PBT alone, such as the Colony Film Festival featuring the visually stunning film about Vincent Van Gogh, Loving Vincent, and the upcoming Clint Black concert, a comedy-magic show called The Chipper Experience, and the musical Annie, simply don’t bear that out. Sarah agreed, stating it was, “nice to have something unique come to Marietta.” It definitely was.