EDMOND—Herbert W. Armstrong College’s Irish dance production, Celtic Throne, showed to its two most enthusiastic crowds yet October 11-12 in Rapid City, South Dakota.
A total of 482 concertgoers flowed into the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center’s fine arts theater Sunday afternoon.
“It was probably the most energetic crowd that the young people have been able to perform in front of,” said the show’s producer, Stephen Flurry. The crowd began cheering and clapping at highlights within the first number, “Origins,” before it had even finished, and the same energy continued throughout the first half.
Following intermission, as the vocal trio of Joel Hilliker, Vienna Flurry and Chrissie Dattolo began “My Country Tis of Thee,” an elderly couple at the center of the front row slowly and shakily stood. The entire crowd followed that example and remained standing, some shedding tears, for all four verses until the last notes of “Let freedom ring.”
The energy and enthusiasm from the crowd increased through the second half to the finale, “Utopia,” and flowed into the lobby after the show, where costumed dancers emerged to chat with visitors. The busiest time for ticket sales came in the wake of Sunday’s show.
A total of 254 attended the following night’s performance. A handful were Philadelphia Church of God members from other states and from Canada who stopped in Rapid City specifically to see the show on the way home from observing the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day in other states. (Dancers, their families and a few hundred other pcg members kept the Feast in Rapid City.) But many if not most of those in the crowd were individuals from the area rather than visiting Church members.
Half the size of the previous crowd, Monday night’s audience was even louder and more enthusiastic.
Concertgoers that night clapped and cheered during and after each number, and stood during “American Medley.” In another first, the crowd sang along during “My Country Tis of Thee.”
The two crowds, including one couple that drove 150 miles for the Sunday performance, came largely as a result of an advertising and promotion campaign that included online ads, electronic billboards, television and radio ads, and posters and flyers in local restaurants, hotels and tourist destinations. The local nbc television affiliate ran an advertisement following the presidential debate, as well as a news segment featuring lead dancer Jude Flurry. One local radio station interviewed Flurry and another interviewed marketing director Shane Granger. The local Fox television affiliate interviewed dancers Jude Flurry and Alexa Turgeon live on its morning show.
Dancers also performed in the town of Keystone, which is near the Mount Rushmore National Monument. The town’s chamber of commerce director was unusually enthusiastic about the show and helped to generate publicity.
Representatives at the civic center said that Celtic-style shows drew crowds of over 1,000 in the past, but a recent show that normally sold that many tickets sold only 200. Celtic Throne was the first event that the center has widely promoted since government Covid restrictions began seven months ago.
The Rapid City shows were the sixth and seventh public performances for Celtic Throne, following three at Armstrong Auditorium at the college’s campus in Edmond, Oklahoma, and two in Branson, Missouri.
The next Celtic Throne performance is tonight in Armstrong Auditorium, followed by another performance on Sunday. Armstrong College chancellor and Celtic Throne executive producer Gerald Flurry said in Rapid City that he hopes that the show can continue to reach more audiences in more cities.
Jude Flurry said that the South Dakota audiences “cheered loud and often, and I think that had a huge positive impact on the whole dance troupe,” many of whom, he said, were not at full energy. “[S]eeing such great audience feedback really helped them push through with a smile.”
Links to the Celtic Throne album, with music by award-winning composer Brian Byrne, are available at CelticThrone.com.