Kean University, in Union, New Jersey, will welcome eighty-five aspiring musicians and Irish dancers to its campus as part of Studio2Stage, a whirlwind nine-day professional workshop and rehearsal process culminating in a public performance on August 3 at 8 p.m.
According to promotional material for the event, Studio2Stage is “a performance experience and variety show that has gathered together young amateur musicians, singers and Irish dancers who want to break into the touring show industry. These selected performers from the U.S.A. and further afield will be brought together at Kean University in New Jersey on July 26 to August 3, 2014 for 9 days to learn, produce and stage a full professional 2-hour show on the final night which is open to the general public.”
“Dancers and musicians will witness firsthand life as a professional performer, experience living away from home, immersing themselves in nine days of intense rehearsals and watching a full-scale show production come to life,” stated a release from Studio2Stage’s production team. “The S2S management team wanted to establish this venture to pass down the knowledge and experience that they learned over the years and assist amateur performers in getting closer to achieving their dreams of being a professional performer.”
Studio2Stage’s producers include Jim Murrihy, an original cast member of Michael Flatley’s famed Lord of the Dance, and co-director of Dublin-based Damhsa Irish Dance Entertainment Ltd; Michelle Lee, founder of Dublin’s esteemed Lee-Byrne Academy, which teaches and promotes Irish dance and culture; and choreographer Rachel Byrne, an original cast member of Riverdance and faculty member at Lee-Byrne. Ms. Byrne will share choreography duties with dancers Bobby Hodges, Chris Naish and Aidan Garvey.
Mr. Hodges currently appears as the principal lead in Riverdance’s new show, Heartbeat of Home, and is a Bristol native and former cast member of Lord of the Dance, as is Mr. Naish, co-creator of the flashmob-inspired Sneaky Steppers. Mr. Naish’s current project, Fusion Fighters, fuses a variety of dance forms with martial arts. Mr. Garvey, an original cast member of Irish Celtic, also served as the tour’s dance captain, and recently joined the Riverdance Flying Squad.
Music direction will be provided by the acclaimed British composer and arranger Anthony Davis, cited in promotional materials for his “unique fusion of Celtic music with jazz, funk, and percussive rhythms [to] create modern versions of traditional tunes that are upbeat, infectious, and unforgettable.” His CD Anton and Sully is widely considered the definitive training CD for Irish dance students of all ages. Acclaimed button accordion player Liam O’Sullivan, another veteran of the Irish Celtic tour, will serve as assistant musical director.
Studio2Stage runs Sunday, August 3 at 8:00 p.m. in Kean University’s Wilkins Theatre, located at 1000 Morris Avenue in Union. Tickets are $35, and can be purchased online at www.keanstage.com or by calling 908-737-SHOW (7469). For more information on Studio2Stage, visit www.studio2stage.ie. For a full calendar of all arts programming at Kean University, visit www.keanstage.com.