Weston actor Charles Keating — known for his work on stage, television and film — will bring his extended family to Wilton Library for an afternoon of songs, poetry, stories and more than a few “giggles.”
It all takes place Sunday, July 29, from 3 to 5, followed by a free wine and cheese reception. Tickets are $25, and all proceeds benefit the library.
The family includes wife Mary, sons Sean and Jamie, and family friend Dave Shuford. The act is a reprise of sorts of one they performed years ago when the “lads” were teenagers.
“We toured with it,” Mr. Keating said of the act called There Is A Dream Dreaming Us, “and then we went our separate ways.”
When he was asked to do a benefit for the Waldorf school in Newtown, which one of his grandchildren attends, Mr. Keating thought to “resurrect the old songs” and gather the family again.
“We had such a good time,” he said, that they did it again in Weston, where he and his wife have lived for 20 years, and now they are coming to Wilton. In August, they will do a benefit for the Bijou Theater in Bridgeport.
“It’s a real smorgasbord of folk songs,” Mr. Keating explained, “British, Irish, some English musical hall songs to keep things lighter.”
Speaking over tea at Orem’s Diner last week, he added emphatically, “This is not the Von Trapp family or anything like it. We’re all too old and hairy for that.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Keating said working with his family “is a real treat. It’s a working relationship. You have to come together as co-equals. You listen to each other probably more intently than when playing your prescribed roles.”
Mary Keating is a singer, actress and writer who has performed musically with her husband throughout their 47-year marriage. In addition, she wrote and sings the songs on the CD Song Stories for Children, for which she won a Parents Choice Award.
“Her influence is one of those quiet influences that prevails,” Mr. Keating said.
Sean Keating lives in Wilton with his wife Ivy and their four children, and is the drummer in the clan. He owns TLC Lawn & Landscaping Service and for the past 10 years or so has pursued a second career as an artist, working in watercolor and oil. His paintings may be seen at SeanJKeating.com.
Jamie Keating is a classical guitarist who debuted at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. He arranged and produced his mother’s CD. He is also a designer and builder and lives in Bethel with his wife Chrysa and their two children.
Dave Shuford, on keyboards, is the great-grandson of a concert pianist exiled by the Russian czar. He lives in Redding with his wife Joanne and their three children.
Charles Keating is the “front man” so to speak, “who does the poems and the songs … That’s my forte, if I indeed have one,” he said. His fans would say he has more than one. As an actor, the London native has been on American television in a number of series including Sex and the City and the soap opera Another World, for which he won an Emmy playing the villainous Carl Hutchins. Film credits include The Bodyguard and The Thomas Crown Affair. His stage appearances, in this country and abroad, are numerous ranging from Shakespeare to contemporary works.
The songs and poetry — there will be some Yeats, Mansfield and Dylan Thomas among others — are those that have stuck with Mr. Keating over the years. “They work,” he said. “I don’t know what it is … how they can stick with us … for a lifetime.”
Judging by their reception in Weston, they work indeed.
“All that’s missing from ‘An Evening with Charles Keating and Family’ is a fireplace and a good bottle of Scotch,” wrote Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein. “They are an incredibly talented family that actually seems to enjoy each other’s company, albeit with some good-natured eye rolling when dad Charles goes off the reservation. After watching them in action I felt like inviting myself for a holiday dinner!”
Karen Tatarka, director of Weston Public Library, described the performance, which received a standing ovation, as “truly unlike any we had experienced before.”
Along with the songs and poetry, Mr. Keating said the emphasis will be on music. Sean and Jamie Keating and Mr. Shuford had a band called Kilkaren with a fourth friend, who was killed in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They wrote a song in his memory and will perform “For Jonathan” as part of the program.
Mr. Keating said he will also call up some of the grandchildren to do a children’s song, to pass on the tradition.
There will be touching moments, comic moments, bonhomie, and perhaps most importantly, some laughs.
The Weston performance was a sell-out. For information or to purchase tickets for the Wilton performance, visit wiltonlibrary.org and click on Events.
The Keatings are also bringing their show to the Bijou Theater in Bridgeport for a one-night only performance on Saturday, Aug. 18, at 8 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets visit thebijoutheater.com and click on Schedule, Events.