To the East With the Lark

By James H. Burns: Here’s a clip from Finian’s Rainbow as a quick leadup to St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, with Melissa Errico singing a number from that all-time excellent show.

Errico starred in the production that introduced me to the enchanting tale, in 2004 at Charlotte Moore’s Irish Repertory Theatre in Manhattan. The musical, which debuted on Broadway in the late 1940s, has been unwisely overlooked in the past decades, largely due to a pretty lacklustre film adaptation. The script and score of the original are well worth checking out for any fan of wonderment! And when Ms. Errico sang “Look to the Rainbow” on the evening I saw the play, we both wound up weeping together, me in the fifth row or so of that great small Off Broadway theatre…  But that’s a tale for another day!

(And I should mention my pal James Morgan, who designed the set for that production, as well as such other fantasy endeavors as the 1989 Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd. He’s also the artistic director for the York Theatre Company, a terrific place on 54th Street, devoted to musicals, and which has a series of free readings of new productions, many of which have been fantasy or science fiction tales! The York’s presentation of the new biography musical, Cagney, about the great movie star, is about to transfer for another Off Broadway run!)

In the meanwhile… I believe, thankfully, I hear a Glocca Morra bird, just about every day!

5 thoughts on “To the East With the Lark

  1. Hearing this song in the context of File 770‘s fannish family, one can scarcely help but recall the deconstruction of Yip Harburgh’s lyrics by the legendary fanwriter Walt Willis, an actual Irishman.

    Reading between the lines, one senses that as the song became a hit, the Irish became a bit tired of its sentimental but less-than-authentic portrayal of their land.

    The Glocca Morra piece became the opening chapter of the charming book The Improbable Irish, published under Willis’s pseudonym “Walter Bryan.”

    I wish I could point to an online copy of the essay; the best I can do is refer you to Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s review of The Improbable Irish, which quotes this bit:

    Q. How Are Things in Glocca Morra?

    A. Actually there are very few things in Glash na Gloragh, but what there are seem in reasonably good condition considering that they have been lying out in the rain so long. The rocks show signs of wear, but the grass and heather appear to have recently been renewed.

    Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all my fellow fen. And to Melissa Errico, who sings this song very well indeed.

  2. Gee whiz…

    If Walt had seen the play–


    He’d know one of the final lines, paraphrasing:

    Glocca Morra ISN’T on any map.

    It’s a place in your heart!

  3. @Bill: That book’s listed at only 50 cents!

    My MIL loves the movie. But she’s one of the “more Irish than the Irish” sorts, going on about it without going to the Auld Sod. Oirish, as it were.

  4. Lurkertype, you really ought to buy her The Improbable Irish. You’ll be glad you did.

    (The Taplinger hardcover can be had, used, for very little more than the Ace paperback. I buy extra copies to give away.)

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