You can’t go shopping these days without seeing at least one little girl, tootling along behind her mother, humming songs from Disney’s “Frozen.” You could let it go, or you could tell her about Celtic Woman’s Emerald Tour, coming April 8 to ASU Gammage, where she’ll experience a singing, clogging, twirling performance of Irish world music that’ll send her dancing out the door.
Draped in the gowns of little girls’ dreams, the Celtic Woman ensemble is made up of a rotation of four Irish divas who sing, dance and play the violin in a mesmerizing combo of Celtic beats, Irish anthems, pop tunes and original music. They’ve played for U.S. presidents and been featured on “Dancing with the Stars,” but they’re best known for their PBS performances in historic Irish locations.
Dublin-born Susan McFadden, who joined Celtic Woman in 2012, phoned GetOut recently to chat about the group’s 75-city tour, her transition from musical theater to multi-platinum performer, and what fans will experience when they see the live show.
Q: Celtic Woman is the only all-female classical crossover group to reach multiplatinum status in the past 10 years. What makes Celtic Woman so appealing to people?
SM: Celtic music and Irish music reach across age groups. They tell stories; people are intrigued by that. And we have an amazing musical director (David Downes of ‘Riverdance’). He takes old songs like ‘Danny Boy’ and makes you feel like you’ve heard it for the first time.
Q: How does Celtic Woman compare to your previous successful career in theater?
SM: It’s crazy how different it felt coming into a group that was established and so successful. You have big shoes to fill. It’s quite daunting to keep the ball rolling.
It was very different from coming from musical theater. It was the first time I had to perform on stage as myself. That was quite scary. But it’s great; it’s very liberating. As time goes by, I find myself becoming very comfortable in that role instead of trying to be someone else.
Q: If you could go back in time and give your 11-year-old self advice about what it means to be an artist and a performer, what would you say?
SM: I tell myself to keep working hard all the time, try to better yourself all the time. Have faith and believe. (Music) was never really meant to be a career for me. It was a hobby. My mum and dad thought I would go on to a different career; I fell into it, really.
Q: You’re touring in support of the new album ‘Emerald: Musical Gems.’ It includes familiar songs like ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘You Raise Me Up’ along with traditional Irish tunes. How much of that album will fans hear at the concert?
SM: This show is different from anything we’ve done before. David Downes has taken some of the same songs but put new arrangements to them, giving them new life.
Q: Your recent PBS special showed Irish dancers clogging down the aisles. Is that part of every performance?
SM: We have that for every performance. We have a choir on stage and percussionists. There’s a lot more energy in this show — and physicality. We just thrive on it. The audience loves it, and we love it.
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