Irish cabaret strikes a melodic chord

The Glee Club guys gear up to celebrate their heritage


“If you’re Irish, come into the parlor. There’s a welcome there for you.” The Glee Club rings out in joy with the classic folk tune from Erin’s Isle. It’s time once again for the annual Irish cabaret, the glee club’s Saint Patrick’s Day concert. The Purple Quill set out to explore the ins and outs of the most festive celebration of the year.

Many people in the Cincinnati community have some level of Irish heritage in them. The Irish Heritage Center, which is less than 20 minutes away from Elder, has been known to gather large crowds for such guests as esteemed singer Emmet Cahill. The Irish in this town is so strong that even those without Irish in them take zealous joy in the Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. Knowing this, the Glee Club makes a special effort to celebrate its roots by holding two concerts every year on (or around) March 16th and 17th  the day of the Shamrock. The concerts are held in the Saint William undercroft and are often sold out months in advance. For a more in-depth look at the events, I interviewed members of the Glee Club to find out what’s happening and what makes it so special.

The glee club stands meets with Emmet Cahill, prized Irish singer and member of the singing group Celtic Thunder.

First to speak was senior Alex Kerley. Alex has been part of the Glee Club all four years, is a leader of the baritone section, and holds a position in the vocal ensemble and show choir.

A major portion of the Irish cabaret is made up of solo pieces, which are given out on a volunteer basis. This year, Alex will have two solos in the cabaret. “I’m singing a solo verse in Whiskey in the Jar and Goodbye Mick.” These solos bring with them a responsibility to do your part to keep the show going, which isn’t always easy.

However, Alex let me know that his favorite memory from the Irish cabarets came due to a solo. “One of my favorite memories was successfully singing a solo verse in Clancy Lowered the Boom (the solos in this song are traditionally given to freshman, which Alex was at the time). I tend to be a quiet person and get a little stage fright when performing. Being able to sing a verse successfully on my own helped make the cabaret special for me.”

Anyone who has ever attended the cabaret will tell you that the whole night is filled with joy and laughter. However, Alex enjoys a certain part more than the rest. “My favorite part is being on stage, singing fun and catchy Irish music.” All of this Irish music influenced the glee club to travel to Ireland during the summer of 2017, a trip of which Alex was lucky enough to be a part. They traveled all over the Emerald Isle, from Belfast to Derry to Galway to Dublin and many places in between. Alex elaborated on his favorite part of the trip, stating “Exploring the city of Galway. It’s a very nice city and going on a boat trip on the bay was great.”

Senior Tom Sunderhaus was the next to comment on the Irish cabaret. Like Alex, Tom has been a Glee Club member every year, is part of the vocal ensemble, show choir, and is a member of the baritone section. However, unlike Alex, Tom is a member of the Glee Club board. Every year, Tom looks forward to the exuberant nature and delightful tone of the Irish cabaret. He especially looks forward to his old Glee Club friends coming back for another show.

“My favorite part of the cabaret is when we have the alumni come up and sing. It’s always fun to have the old gang back together again.” As previously mentioned, solos play a big part in the cabaret. Tom has done several solos throughout the years, and this cabaret looks to be no different. Tom expounded his list of solos, declaring “This year, I will be singing The Wild Rover, Mother Macree, and whatever else Mr. Allen will need me for.”

While those songs are classics, they aren’t Tom’s favorites of the bunch. He explained “I have at least two favorites. One is Galway Bay, simply because it’s a beautiful song. My other one is MacNamara’s Band because it’s just so gosh-darn fun to sing.” Of course, this fantastic night could not happen without the organizers and workers, for whom Tom had the utmost respect. “

A large amount of work goes into this cabaret. Not only the singers, but also all those who organize it (such as Elder librarian Mrs. Kelley). God bless those folks, as we’d never put on this show without them.” With all of this talk of Ireland and shamrocks, many people would never want to see the color green after the cabaret again. This is not true for Tom. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. “I could never get tired of the color green. This may shock you, but green is, and always will be, my favorite color.” Might this have something to do with his mother working at Seton or his sister attending Marshall University? The world may never know. However, the world will know who organizes Irish cabaret as the one and only Ms. Schad.

Finally, Ms. Schad, conductor of the Glee Club, gave her input on the Irish cabaret. She’s been managing the cabarets for ten years, and the Irish cabaret is her favorite. To her, it’s incredible because it’s “A night of celebration through song celebrating the holiday of Saint Patrick’s Day.” Lots of work goes into the cabaret. Ms. Schad commented on the time commitment, stating “(It’s) two months of rehearsal preparation. We meet on Mondays and sometimes in class.”

Most years, to get a ticket in time, you’re going to need to order your tickets before practices even start. Since it is held in the Saint William’s undercroft, there are not many tickets to go around, and those that do sell out fast. Ms. Schad explained “It is sold out at 270 tickets. We sell out both nights!” Each year, the glee club does its best to add new songs to its repertoire. Because of this, no two Irish cabarets are exactly alike. When it comes to choosing new songs, Ms. Schad described the selection process. “Since I have been at Elder, the Glee Club has traveled to Ireland twice.  Each time we go, we learn new songs and bring them back.  We have a whole new section this year at the cabaret that we brought back with us from this past summer.”

The Irish cabaret truly is a time of great happiness for everybody here in the hills of Cincinnati. Everyone can come together to celebrate the traditions of the hills of Connemara or the bay of Galway. So if you’ve ever wanted to visit the Red Rose Café, where everyone shares in the songs and the laughter, the Irish cabaret is the next best thing. Because no matter where you come from, when you’re at this cabaret, you’re Irish. And if you’re Irish, come into the parlor. There’s a welcome there for you.