Finian’s Rainbow

Sometimes you just get lucky. You find money on the sidewalk. You get an unexpected check in the mail — or you find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, like Finian did. In my particular case, I was generously gifted with two tickets to see Finian’s Rainbow at the Irish Repertory Theatre yesterday. My dear friends, alas, could not attend, so I write this review with a mixture of regret for their inability to make the show — and gratitude that I had the opportunity to see it. It was an absolutely delightful two hours on an otherwise rainy grey day. (Thank you dear friends!) Okay, let’s get back to that pot of gold our dear Finian found: this is where things start to get mighty interesting way back in 1947 in Rainbow Valley, Missatucky. This fictional setting featured sharecroppers in the deep South, local land-owners, recent arrivals from Ireland, and greedy land-grabbing politicians. I could not believe how timely this play was: it directly addresses racism, bigotry, anti-immigration policies and corruption. In a very real sense, the themes of the play brought to mind our current political climate. I would imagine that it was considered very progressive when it was first staged on Broadway back in the late 1940s. It was also a musical in the most delightful sense of the word: a leprechaun starts to turn human and falls in love, and a bigoted senator becomes a black man and gets his mind expanded by the magical powers of the leprechaun and his pot of gold. There is a love triangle that gets resolved. There is a mute character, a gospel quartet, a wedding (of course) — plus one terrific hit song after another. The entire cast was not only vocally talented, but their acting was fantastic. The staging was clever. The musicians, including a harpist, gleefully performed right on stage the entire time. It feels good to feel good, and for that reason alone, the world needs musical theater. Oh, and if we could just get a leprechaun named as Secretary of State, I think all will be well with the world.

Musical Theater New York
Finian’s Rainbow at the Irish Repertory Theatre in NYC on Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

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