Early Morning Press Call, Auckland, New Zealand
Aisling McVeigh, Irish Dance Troupe, Moy Company
An inevitable part of touring life and the job of any performer is Press and PR related work. Dancers regularly meet the media, chat with journalists and give live Radio interviews and TV performances in many of the cities we visit. Wednesday May 23rd, 2012 marked a well-planned and very eventful day of Press for the entire Riverdance team.
5.30am: I’m suddenly woken by alarming beeps; my mobile phone vibrates loudly, illuminating the room. It feels like I’ve only been asleep 5 minutes but there is no time to contemplate turning over, a busy day lies ahead. I slip out of the room as quietly as I can so as not to wake my roomie (Shona Cobbe). We are staying in apartments on Queen Street in the centre of Auckland, so I move to the living room to continue getting ready for the day of work ahead.
Typically, I manage to bang into every table and chair possible, drop a knife and trip over a bag on the floor in my attempt not to make too much noise as Shona is still out for the count (not anymore I’m thinking). This isn’t a morning for a scoop of the instant stuff – the coffee plunger come out of the press for an outing and I make a pot of what looks like tar. Strong dose of caffeine consumed, teeth brushed and off I go.
6.00am: I meet our dance captain Niamh O’Conner in the lobby and check through the morning papers to pick up on any coverage following our opening night performance last night. The New Zealand Herald has featured some great pictures. I pick up a few of complimentary copies at reception for each of the dancers in the photos. Company manager Laurie Small joins us and we walk to the theatre. It’s still dark out and we are met by a throng of early morning joggers along our path – a familiar sight in this part of the world, one that would put many of us who make regular promises to ourselves to start such an early morning fitness regime (but have yet failed to do so) to shame.
6.35am: We are greeted at the venue by our New Zealand publicists Megan and Sandra. Their PR expertise has secured an active Press schedule over the coming weeks to promote the Farewell Tour across New Zealand, with this morning’s live TV being the pinnacle. They introduce us to the TVNZ Breakfast crew and their weather presenter Tamati Coffey, who will be presenting live segments from the Riverdance set, throughout the morning.
First up in the pilot seat are John Lonergan and Niamh O’Connor for an interview on camera with Tamati. Niamh has been with Riverdance since it was first performed in 1994 as the interval act on the Eurovision song contest. As the longest standing cast member and dance captain with the Moy Company, Niamh is a favourite with the media. World Champion John Lonergan has also attracted a lot of attention from the press throughout the tour. It is an exciting time for John, as the newest dancer to join the Riverdance cast.
7.05am: Despite the early wake-up call Liam Ayres, James Keating and Chris Naish take on Kelly Isaac and Michael Woods in an energetic dance-off as they perform Trading Taps for the camera.
7.35am: Niamh O’Connor takes Tamati for an Irish Dance Master class on stage. As his efforts are broadcast live across the country, the rest of the troupe start arriving at the venue. Given our line of work, we usually performing at night, so many have not seen this side of midday in a long time. The snail pace of their actions reflects this but a buffet breakfast being served in the green room, brings them slowly but surely back to life.
8.05am: Tamati prepares to step into the Riverdance line. Wardrobe has dug out a costume for him and company manager Laurie Small gives him a helping hand side stage to look the part. Lights, camera, action – the music roles and he is joined by the full company on stage to show the nation what he has learned. He slots perfectly into place centre stage and there are howls of laughter around the venue, all in good spirit for his entertaining efforts after the camera man shouts cut.
8.35am: The full cast are called to the stage. The ever professional Maria Buffini and Padraic Moyles warm up in the wings to shake off any early morning tiredness. Tamati presents his last weather segment for the morning and signs off to the nation as the troupe join Maria and Padraic for a live TV performance of Riverdance.
8.45am: It’s a wrap for the TVNZ Breakfast piece and after a few photographs with the presenter and breakfast crew on stage it’s back to bed for most.
TVNZ Good Morning
With the majority of the cast back at their apartments tucked up in bed, some fortunate others are shuttled to the nearby TVNZ studios.
We are due to perform two numbers on the GOOD MORNING show which is aired live across New Zealand. It is a great opportunity for the show to promote the upcoming farewell performances in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
10.45am: Following a brief rehearsal during the advertorials, male lead Jason Oremus performs Distant Thunder with some of the boys. He is then whisked off to another studio where he joins female lead, Siobhan Manson for an interview.
There is a quick costume change and another run through. This time we rehearse Riverdance and given the size of the tiny studio floor and prior concern about the amount of dancers that it would fit, everything has worked as planned.
11.30am: Riverdance goes live on TV for the final time today and by midday we have left the studio and a busy yet successful morning of press behind us. ….
View Clip: Distant Thunder and Riverdance performed live in TVNZ Good Morning studios plus a chat with principal dancers Síobhan Mason and Jason Oremus