Riverdance in Sarasota and Fort Lauderdale
Marcus Maloney, Dancer, Corrib Company
Our third week in Florida took us further down the Gulf coast and to the seaside resort of Sarasota. Sarasota is an affluent waterside town and the cultural capital of Florida. Much of the Main Street has been restored to its early twentieth-century splendor, and Sarasota Quay boasts some of the Gulf Coast’s best dining and nightlife destinations. On average, Sarasota enjoys 361 annual days of sunshine. Baring this in mind the weather for our stay was splendidly warm. It was in Sarasota that the big competition for best tan in the Boyne Company began to progress. The Russians are definitely the early leaders! I guess it beats the cold, snowy winter of Russia any day!
Our theatre in Sarasota, the Van Wezel Theatre for Performing Arts, was located right on the ocean. We were lucky enough to arrive at sunset at each evening and witness the amazing colours in the sky.
Again, as in the previous Floridian cities we have visited so far this tour, all our shows in Sarasota were again sold out and audiences were very enthusiastic. We welcomed back Katie Else (singer) to the cast this week too, and her vivid and jovial personality was embraced by the many friends she has in the show. Our hotel suites had kitchenettes, which provided the perfect opportunity to cook for ourselves, a welcome change from eating out most nights. Pancake Tuesday fell while we were here and the kitchens came in very handy for preparing some home cooked pancakes!
From Sarasota we moved across to the southeast coast of Florida again and to Fort Lauderdale. It’s a wealthy city on the cutting edge of fashion and the arts; a beachside community cluttered with sunscreen and souvenirs. In addition to the beautiful surroundings; numerous historic sights, museums, chic sidewalk cafés and a long waterfront walkway all contribute to this city’s captivating appeal. Fort Lauderdale, commonly referred to as “The Venice of America,” is the yachting capital of the East Coast.
One popular destination for residents and tourists alike is the city’s Riverwalk area. This mile-long stretch along the New River is a great place for a stroll with its tropical landscape and views of the city. The park is lined with outdoor cafés, gazebos and park benches. Our theatre, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts was located right on this riverwalk and in between shows many cast members could be seen enjoying a wander!
Kevin Hanafin (Sax player) joined the tour in Fort Lauderdale and his wonderful bubbly baby daughter Lola provided amusement for many of us. Backstage, in between numbers many of the cast are studying and practicing ‘Ceili’s’ for their up coming Irish dancing teacher exams. To those outside of Irish dancing circles, Ceili is the term given to team dances, with a minimum of 4 dancers and a maximum of 16 required for the numerous, varied dances. The American Wake in Riverdance would be regarded as a Ceili structured dance. Backstage is a flurry of enthusiasm, everyone doing their best to help each other out with the different aspects of the dances.
Miami is less than an hour’s drive from Fort Lauderdale and as it happened we had a day off on the Thursday. We decided to make the most out of the proximity to Miami and we had a boys night out and a girls night out.
We rented stretch Hummer limousines and hit the upmarket bars and clubs on Miami’s dynamic South Beach. A great night was had by all and we all felt like we were superstars for the night.