2010-03-12 / Community

St. Patrick’s Day Comes Early At Fort Tilden

Although most of Rockaway was out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this past Saturday, the party isn’t over yet. The celebration goes into full swing this Sunday, March 14, at Fort Tilden, as The Rockaway Theatre Company presents its fourth annual St. Patrick’s sing-a-long featuring The Gilleece Twins and Chris Benedict.

While John Gilleece may be familiar to many in Rockaway as the Artistic Director of the RTC and as a lector at St. Francis de Sales, he has actually been quite comfortable as an entertainer since his boyhood. The Gilleece children learned to sing Irish folksongs almost at the same time they learned to talk. Their mother, Mary, an Irish immigrant, sang to them constantly when they were infants. John and his twin brother, Frank, sang their first Irish tune in public at age 6, during their debut performance on the popular 50’s television show, “The Children’s Hour” and they have been entertaining audiences with their special brand of traditional Irish music ever since. “The Gilleece Twins” were regulars on “The Children’s Hour” for ten years where they could be seen every Saturday morning until they reached the age of 16. The duo continued to sing at bars and frat parties during their college years and at various local venues as adults.

They became a trio about 10 years ago when Chris Benedict, who had, for many years, been singing with Frank and playing the organ for their local church choir, joined the brothers adding his skilled musicianship and a third rich voice to their beautifully harmonic vocal performances. The group plays well known traditional Irish songs as well as some of the more recent music coming out of Ireland. Their set always includes several rousing Irish drinking songs during which they get everyone in the audience up, singing, dancing and having a great old time. It’s a wonderful way to spend the Sunday afternoon before the actual St. Patrick’s Day and audiences look forward to the show with such heated anticipation that this year’s performance is close to being sold out.

While there are no alcoholic beverages sold at the Post Theater, there will be hot and cold beverages and snacks available, not to mention the fabulous Irish soda breads baked at home by Cynthia Peithman and sold buttered by the slice, which is reason enough in it to come out to the theatre on March 14.

The Gilleece Twins and Chris Benedict will perform one show only for St. Patrick’s Day which will begin at 2 p.m. on March 14. Reservations for the show may be made by calling the RTC hotline at 718-374-6400 or going to the reservation page on the RTC website www. rockawaytheatrecompany.org.

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