Inspired by epic spectacles like Riverdance, Rockin’ Road to Dublin has revived classic Irish music and dance to create a new show with a contemporary feel and broader appeal. Based in Williamsburg, VA, the company features performers from all over the world and recently wrapped a 72-city tour garnering rave reviews.
We sat down with co-creators Scott Doherty and Chris Smith to get an inside look at the show and their experience of being on tour.
How did the show get its start?
Scott: Chris and I met while working at Busch Gardens in Virginia. We instantly became friends and eventually roommates. One day we were working out at the gym and we started talking about shows that we’d love to create. We quickly realized we had a lot of the same ideas! One conversation led to another and before we knew it, we had the whole show planned out in our heads. We looked at each other one day and realized: “We have to do this, don’t we?” So we called up all our friends, who all happen to be the best at what they do whether it’s music, dance, or even on the technical side of things, and we called in every favor we could. We debuted the show in Newport News in 2014 and it was an instant hit! We knew we had to keep this going.
Who makes up the show?
Chris Smith – Co-Creator/Drummer
Scott Doherty – Co-Creator/Choreographer/Lead Male Dancer
Ashley Smith – Lead Female Dancer
Megan Lynn Browning – Female Vocalist
Brett Benowitz – Male Vocalist
Joseph Schermann – Musical Director/Keyboard
Corey Walden – Violin
Lauren Wright – Violin
Marc Malsegna – Lead Guitar
Kelly Mills – Rhythm Guitar
Mike Moore – Auxiliary Percussion
John Baldwin – Bass
Irish Dancers – Bernadette Devereaux (Dance Captain), Mairead Stillson (Lead Understudy), Ciara Stillson, Emily MacConnell, Erika Nielsen, Moira Ragen, Declan Crowley, Patrick Holland, Tyler Schwartz (Lead Understudy), Colin Barkell,Billy Kanaly, Mark Chichester
Rockin’ Road to Dublin just came off of a 72-city tour. What was that like?
Scott: There were a lot of great moments on this tour. To bring RR2D to 72 cities and find out that people love the show in every corner of the country was a dream come true. My most memorable show was in Lowell, Massachusetts and it was actually the last show of the tour. I’m from MA so it was a homecoming show for me. My mom actually bought over 500 tickets and sold them exclusively to family and friends, then gave every person a glow stick. They cracked them during the last number of the show to reveal the colors of the Irish flag. It was an absolutely breathtaking sight from the stage.
What is the best thing about being on tour? The most challenging?
Scott: The best thing about being on tour for me is getting to the see the country. Our tour took us through snow, to beaches, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon. Our job is literally to travel, it’s amazing! The most challenging aspect of tour is probably the tight quarters of the buses. Our cast and crew travel on 3 sleeper buses with the lounges and bunks. We’re one big family but after a while even families get on each others nerves. Haha.
What sort of training/rehearsal did you do prior to heading out on tour?
Scott: We had 3 1/2 weeks of rehearsal before starting the tour in September. We brought on an awesome new Broadway director, and lighting designer, so we had lots of amazing upgrades to add to the show this time around. After the Christmas break we all got together for another quick four day rehearsal and hit the road running!
How do you keep each show fresh night after night?
Scott: With a group like ours it’s easy to keep it fresh every night! This cast is the most talented, and most fun group we’ve ever performed with. Every night fans come up to us and say, “It looks like you’re having so much fun up there!” And they love to hear us say, “That’s because we really are!”
Tell us about the show. What can audiences expect?
Scott: The two things we love to hear night after night at our lobby meet and greet after the show is, “I didn’t know what to expect, but I loved it!” and “I’ve never seen anything like that!” Rockin’ Road to Dublin is just pure energy from start to finish. Everyone loves Irish music and dance, and everyone loves rock n’ roll, so we’ve combined the best of both. We’ve hit that sweet spot that makes the show perfect for the whole family. Every night we have kids dancing in the aisle and grandparents tapping their feet and clapping along. One of my favorite compliments was “We didn’t even get a chance to look down at the program because there were no dead spots in the show for us to get bored.”
Do any of the group members have pre-show/post-show rituals they would like to share?
Scott: One of my favorites that I see before every show is right before it starts, Joe (Keyboard), Mike (Aux Percussion), and Lauren (Violin) all do push-ups together and each night one of them sings a new song while doing the push-ups… usually a Broadway show tune! After every show though most of the Irish dancers all jump into waist-high trashcans filled with ice water. It’s awful, but it takes care of our legs! Haha.
When you returned home, what was the first thing you did?
Scott: Haha… after tour I think I slept for a week! The show is so exciting and fun to dance in, but after 72 cities I don’t think I realized just how tired I was until it was over.
What’s next for RR2D?
Scott: We set out on this 72-city tour to spread the word about RR2D all over the country and we did just that! As we like to say, the snowball has started! So we’re already booking and planning an even bigger tour for the Spring/Summer of 2018. We’re also teaming up with a major Broadway production company. We can’t disclose all the details just yet, but this new partnership is going to make this next tour bigger and better than ever!
Chris: We have also recorded a cd with all the music of the show which will be available shortly, as well as we have recorded a PBS special of the show! So be sure to follow us on social media and our website to keep up to date with all these exciting things to come!
Connect with RR2D!