Irish dancing and rock music are the key components in a new musical revue onstage this weekend at the Ferguson Center.
"Rockin' Road to Dublin" is the creation of drummer Chris Smith and Irish dancer Scott Doherty, young artists who met while performing at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The show features traditional Irish dancing done to familiar Irish tunes that have been given new rock music arrangements.
"It's Irish dancing meets a rock concert," says Smith, 29, who grew up in Richmond and now lives in Williamsburg. He performs at Busch on occasion but these days is mostly on the road playing the Irish drums for Celtic bands.
Doherty is the dance captain for the Busch show, "Celtic Fire." He's won Irish dance championships and has toured with "Riverdance" and "Lord of the Dance."
"Scott and I worked together in 'Celtic Fire'," says Smith. "We each had a concept for an Irish show and started talking about how we could combine the two."
Two years in the making, the project features male and female lead singers, 10 Irish dancers and a seven-member band. About 90 percent of the cast has been associated with Busch Gardens Entertainment.
Doherty, 27, collaborated on the numbers and theming for the show and adds, "I'm also the choreographer for all of the dancing. I've spent the last year creating all the dances for our amazing cast that features professionals and world champions."
Christian Short, 22, of York County, who filled in at different Busch shows as a swing singer, is one of this weekend's lead singers. He's left the entertainment world, but "I love singing on the side, and I was happy to have the opportunity to get back into it," he said.
The show includes a number of familiar Irish tunes including "Fields of Athenrye" and "A Nation Once Again." Brent Frederick, a professional arranger out of New York, rearranged the tunes in a rock music style.
Smith plans to tape this weekend's premiere performances and put together a DVD that will be used to attract investors. He hopes to tour the show next year.
"We wanted to revamp the music so it will play well with both young and old audiences," Smith said.
"Every piece in the show has a nice push to it," he said. "It's about the music and the dancing and the excitement of the Irish culture."
David Nicholson can be reached at 757-247-4794.
Want to go?
What: "Rockin' Road to Dublin"
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11
Tickets: $37-$42 by calling 757-594-8752 or online at fergusoncenter.ticketforce.com.