McColgan plans Riverdance successor
Producer John McColgan has announced a successor to Riverdance named Heartbeat of Home.
The new show will open at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre next September and has already attracted interest from promoters in China and the United States, he claims.
Heartbeat of Home will be a music and dance show written by the Los Angeles-based composer Brian Byrne with a story by the novelist Joe O’Connor and McColgan.
A 42-minute version of the show was presented to investors recently.
Both Riverdance and Heartbeat of Home will be major parts of The Gathering 2013 which was unveiled at the Guinness Storehouse today.
There will be a festival around Riverdance during the summer which will also include the largest Riverdance chorus line to date.
Mr McColgan said he disagreed with actor Gabriel Byrne’s contention that The Gathering amounted to a “sham” and a “shakedown”. Byrne reiterated his comments first made on the Today FM Matt Cooper Show last night when he addressed students in Dun Laoghaire.
Mr McColgan responded: “I understand where Gabriel’s coming from, I understand the depths of his passion, I understand everything that he contributed as cultural ambassador, but I respectfully beg to differ with him on it being a scam or a rip-off.
“The Irish have always been welcoming to the diaspora. We're formalising that in a way and making the diaspora feel welcome. I think the big American Football game (Notre Dame v Navy) was just an example of that sort of welcome,” he said.
“Gabriel Byrne is one of my best friends. He gave two years of his life as cultural ambassador. He was very strongly held opinions which I absolutely understand. He has contributed more to the perception of Ireland abroad than any other singer or actor. I respect his right to say what he says.”
Some 1,800 events for The Gathering which starts on New Year’s Eve have already been confirmed.
They range from a Meet to Compete event in south Dublin which is expected to attract 18,000 visitors across 25 international sports to a major jazz school around the Cork Jazz Festival and a three day GAA tournament in July.
There will be a few more unusual festivals including a left-handed festival in Mullingar next August while Ballymoe in Co Galway is hoping to break the world record in June next year when it plans to assemble 1,000 men with beards in the same place.
It is hoped that The Gathering will attract 325,000 visitors on top of the six million which are expected to come in normal circumstances next year.
The Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar who attended the launch said the number of events had already surpassed exceptions.
Mr Varadkar said the marketing budget was limited because of lack of funds but the shortfall was made by local communities who have embraced the idea.
He said for every critic of The Gathering there were 10 people who were embracing the concept.