Irish Wonders is designed primarily as an introduction to the traditional Irish performance arts of music, dance, and storytelling as they originated during the 1800's. Students board their own personal time machines, their imaginations, to travel back to that time. There is mention of the Potato Famine and the wooden sailing ships used to sail to America. A song with concertina accompaniment addresses sailing on one of these large vessels. The uilleann bagpipes and tin whistle are featured within the stories themselves. Tailored in terms of its approach with the various grade levels, the show has an emphasis on humor and audience interaction. A jig teach in, which involves members of the audience coming up on stage to participate, provides a most enjoyable time for all. Celtic art is mentioned with the introduction of the painted bodhran drum. Using unusual props and sophisticated puppets, Irish Wonders provides an intriguing introduction to elements of Irish folk culture for all grade levels.
John attended Irish Heritage summer studies at Elkins College in West Virginia receiving instruction on the Irish uilleann bagpipes, step dance, songs and Irish culture. Storytelling techniques were developed through a course at the Carrboro, NC Arts Center. Prior to these studies he followed an interest in circus design developed at the NCSU School of Design and began a five year clowning career on the 103rd-107th editions of the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus. Through the years he has performed numerous elementary school programs on a variety of beneficial themes featuring puppetry and audience participation. Personal experiences include traveling in Ireland and playing as a member with the Irish band Celtic Jam which produced two CDs.