Cilian Fennell, the creator and producer of RTÉ's Centenary, has said he's thrilled at the overwhelmingly positive response to the show but is remaining tight-lipped on whether it could be turned into the "new Riverdance".
Many viewers have said they hope the show will be brought on the road and even taken on tour around the world.
"Right now we are just relieved that everything went off smoothly honestly," Fennell told TEN. "I think that whole question is for RTÉ. I think the cast and crew are so spectacularly proud of what they achieved and that it worked. Anything else is a bonus. People can still see it - I'm sure it will be available on some format for a long time".
Cilian revealed that it took eight months to produce and mount the acclaimed show and said the outcome was a testimony to the hard work of everyone involved.
"We were in a bunker in the Bord Gáis Theatre and they were long days, and everybody just gave their all. That was emotional. The will that people had to make this a brilliant show. That's what came through."
"We had two dress rehearsals and everyone - from the audience to the choirs - they just got better and better. We made a promise to ourselves that we weren't going to leave a thing on the stage, we'd give it the whole lot.. but it was only when all the elements came together that we got an idea of what the team had created."
Cilian Fennell: "The best stories happen in your own mind."
Centenary featured singers including Imelda May, Colm Wilikinson, musicians Sharon Shannon and Donal Lunny and numerous dance troupes in a a 85-minute celebration of Ireland and Irishness. The show also included filmed inserts with a reading of The Proclamation from Irish people around the world seemed to hit a particularly spiritual chord with viewers.
The show was watched by nearly a half a million people last Monday night on RTÉ One and it has also been streamed many times since on the RTÉ Player.
"On Friday morning we started doing the opening scene Awakening with all the parts there - the screens, the lights, the floors - I found that overwhelming because I saw what we had done, collectively what we had done, and then I got incredibly emotional," Fennell says. "I knew from then on that the same effort and love had gone into every scene and when we put them all together collectively, it was a big wallop."
Roisin O, Aoife Scott and Danny O'Reilly delivered a moving rendition of Grace from Kilmainham Goal
Fennell, a former Head of Programming at TG4 and a one-time producer of The Late Late Show, was approached by RTÉ in May of last year to create a new show to mark the centenary of The Rising and to mount a musical celebration of Ireland and the Irish people.
In total 600 people were involved in the production, including 21 choirs, 10 actors, 18 dancers, six aerial dancers, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and a 80-strong crew and Fennell admits that it was hard to keep his nerve at times and not become overwhelmed by the scale of the event.
"Always! But if you don't feel nervous . . . there is that production process thing - it starts off as `this is going to be awesome!' to `this is going to be tricky . . . ', `this is shit', `ah yeah, it was shit', to `this could work', to `this is awesome!'"
Fennell says a key element of the show was to include elements of Irish mythology, a lot of which ended up being featuring in the scene setting opening act, Awakening.
"An awful lot of who we are is stored in our mythology and I wanted to release some of that and that's when I knew we had to do a show and when the dance element started coming to life," he told TEN
Centenary mixed the ancient with the more modern
"I ran with that and then we started looking at every scene to see how we could make every scene unique and beautiful and use all the weapons we have in television to do that so we commissioned some pieces out, some scenes were song-lead, some were purely graphically, and some were dance lead.
"So I wanted the mythology element, I wanted the cultural element first and foremost for me because it was a cultural show and then when you start looking through the great canon of Irish song you see the whole story to be told just by singing these songs.
"I didn't want a presenter, I didn't want a narrator, I didn't want to interfere with what was happening on stage so in the end we just put up thirteen quotes that told the story. Then we created the online programme to give people the background and we had a programme for people in the audience.
Credit where it's due...I'm really enjoying the music and the dramatic enactment on #Centenary on RTE #1916....this is beautiful 🇮🇪— Niall (@Tyronetim67) March 28, 2016
Fennell also thinks that any lingering ambivalence about celebrating The Rising has lessened over the past few months. "People are embracing their Irishness and are proud to be Irish," he says. "When I was at The Road to The Rising last year, we found that people wanted the story and not to look too deep into it so when we gave them the story, they loved it."
Centenary is available to view on the RTÉ Player.