Charlie Mount and Theatre West Present a Chestntus Production
The Tony Award Winning Play by Brian Friel
Directed by John Gallogly


Fri and Sat at 8pm. Sun at 2pm.
Tickets $20. Seniors $15. Students $5.

Watch Teaser
This is a very short little teaser featuring the cast and director in rehearsal. Quicktime needed.

Watch Slide Show
A slide show of photos from the show. Quicktime needed.

"An engaging piece well suited to this GIFTED ENSEMBLE" ~ Backstage West

"BEAUTIFUL...The actors play their roles brilliantly..." ~ Carol Kaufman Segal

"In a SPOT-ON PERFORMANCE, Donald Moore as the narrator, Michael, frames the story with fluid ease, lending Friel’s prose a full measure of eloquence...As the clan’s sharp-tongued mainstay, Phillips presides with VITALITY AND FOCUS." ~ The LA Weekly

"The play is rich in texture and language. The Theatre West cast handles this language with a fair amount of deftness, enough to carry this production into a healthy run. The direction, by Theatre Westıs Executive Director John Gallogly, is firm and sure. This is not a plot play, itıs a character play, and each character is sharply etched and uniquely portrayed. I give this production a firm THREE AXELS and RECOMMEND a viewing. ~ Robert Axelrod,

Directed with HEARTFELT PASSION...Solid standout performances..."
~ The Tolucan Times

"CHARMING, WITTY AND DELIGHTFUL...This is one of those stage plays that only seem to get better at each performance. The entire cast of players show their inner joy for their characters in a very realistic sense. Jack Rack's set design of the rural homestead enhances this tale of Irish family and bonding. John Gallogly, himself a man of Irish decent, directs this production with passion that shows throughout"
~ Accessibly Live Off-Line


Backstage West
Reviewed by Dink O'Neal

Billed as an offering from this company's Chestnuts wing, Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa -- which debuted in 1990 -- earns its distinction as an Irish memory play more from charm than age. Following the tribulations of the Mundy family in the fictional town of Ballybeg in 1936, this is an engaging piece well suited to this gifted ensemble.

With a wee tip of the hat to The Glass Menagerie, Donald Moore narrates a flashback-driven script as Michael, the illegitimate son of Christina Mundy and snake-charming local ladies man Gerry Evans. The story line of this couple (played with lovely chemistry by Heather Keller and Yancey Dunham) provides the greatest source of tension within the close-knit clan. Meanwhile, eldest sister Kate (played with appropriate rigidity by Mary Linda Phillips) grapples with her self-imposed sentence as surrogate mother and primary financial provider to her siblings.

A touchingly bittersweet alternative to the play's tension and angst comes in the performances of Jeanine Anderson and Kathie Barnes as sisters Rose and Agnes. The girls' mutually concealed dreams of romance never translate into reality, despite their best intentions as worker bees to sister Kate's queen. With subtle performances Anderson and Barnes fully convey the resulting weariness of their character's lives.
Fortunately, playwright Friel had the good sense had the good sense to inject a fair amount of much-needed humor. Jack, elder brother to the quintet of sisters, is a priest whose decades of African missionary work have left him bereft of his mental faculties. Through the talented portrayal offered by Walter Beery, Jack struggles for word choices, all the while marrying his Catholicism with pagan rituals, a practice that galls Kate to no end. For consistent comic timing, one need look no further than Mary Garripoli's interpretation of Maggie Mundy, the family peacemaker. Whether exhibiting a liltingly beautiful singing voice or an impish disposition, Garripoli steals virtually every scene she inhabits.

Director John Gallogly maintains an emotion-filled yet never maudlin atmosphere. Although Russell Boast's lighting was spotty at the performance reviewed, scenic designer Jeff Rack's cottage-like dwelling is detailed and appealing.

Accessibly Live Off-Line
By Rich Borowy

Brain Friel's DANCING AT LUGHNASA, an Irish tale of five sisters living in County Donegal Ireland, performs at Theatre West in Hollywood for a limited run. It is the tale of the Mundy clan consisting of a band of sisters; Christina (Heather Keller), Maggie (Mary Garripoli), Agnes (Kathie Barnes), Rose (Jeanine Anderson), and Kate (Mary Linda Phillips) a close-knit group living in rural Ballybeg in the middle 1930's. They don't have a lot within their humble homestead--just a "wireless" radio they affectionately call 'Marconi', after the inventor of the device, and one other. Each sister has her own personality and attitude which gives them their sense of family bonding. The only men in their lives do not come from husbands-each one has yet to take a spouse, is brother Jack (Walter Berry) who became a Priest serving his time in Africa as a missionary. But he is too feeble to continue his calling, so he has returned back to his motherland to peacefully expire. The second man to enter the sister's lives is Christina's husband Gerry (Yancey Dunham) who left the family years before, only to announce his part in being a freedom fighter in the Spanish civil war. This entire story of the Mundy's are told by Christina's son Michael (Donald Moore) who looks back at his family's life sharing the joy and tears of a family he would never trade for all of the doubloons in the world!

This is one of those stage plays that only seem to get better at each performance. The entire cast of players show their inner joy for their characters in a very realistic sense. Jack Rack's set design of the rural homestead enhances this tale of Irish family and bonding. John Gallogly, himself a man of Irish decent, directs this production with passion that shows throughout. And the 'dancing' part? The title of this story refers to a old Celtic festival called Lughnasa that dates back to the pagan days of old!

It appears that any tale or story about Ireland or takes place in this green country is charming, witty, and delightful. DANCING AT LUGHNASA is no exception to this rule! It is pleasant production to see, and a fine place to stay for a while. Even if one isn't Irish per se, after experiencing this play, one wishes that they were!

DANCING AT LUGHNASA, presented by Chestnuts Productions and performs at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd, Hollywood, (Universal City/North Hollywood area) until March 11th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights @ 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons @ 2:00 PM. Reservations and information, call (323) 851-7977. Visit the web site at
Reviewed by Carol Kaufman Segal

Dancing at Lughnasa by Irish Playwright Brian Friel was originally produced in Ireland in 1990. In 1992 it was presented on Broadway, winning a Tony Award for best drama. It is the third production of Chestnuts, a new wing of Theatre West and opened there on January 27th.

Dancing At Lughnasa is based on Frielıs fictionalized memory of his own childhood and narrated by his would-be character, Michael (Donald Moore). It relates the story of the five unmarried Mundy sisters in 1936 Ireland and the Industrial Revolution that will eventually impact the entire family. The sisters live together in a humble home two miles outside of the village of Ballybeg, County Donegal, Ireland.  Maggie, the most upbeat of the sisters, played with gusto by Mary Garripoli, is the one who takes care of the household chores. Kate, a schoolteacher, is the "proper" and most religious of the sisters and is performed with grace by Mary Linda Phillips. Christina is Michaelıs mother, the sister who has brought disgrace upon the family by having a child out of wedlock with Gerry Evans (Yancy Dunham). Christina (Heather Keller) is sometimes depressed, but becomes buoyant and bubbly when Gerry comes to town to see her. Agnes (Kathie Barnes) and Rose (Jeanine Anderson) are the most inseparable of the sisters, both knitting socks to earn their living. Rose is somewhat slow, while Agnes tries to protect her. Jack Mundy (Walter Beery) is the only brother, a missionary priest who has spent the past 25 years in Uganda, coming home with an illness and not expected to live. However, with the help of his family, he returns to good health. Michael relates the story of his family during those turbulent years, the effect of the Industrial Revolution causing them to lose their jobs, and eventually, what happens to each of the sisters and their brother.

Dancing At Lughnasa is a lengthy play in two acts, but worth the approximately 2-1/2 hours it takes to relate the story of the Mundy family.  The production grew out of the Monday Night Acting Workshop, growing bit by bit until, two years after its beginning, it became the beautiful play that it is, produced by Charlie Mount and directed by John Gallogly. The actors play their roles brilliantly, with impeccable Irish brogues.  The set design by Jeff Rack that features the kitchen and garden of the Mundy home is warm and homey. It will play Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, through March 11, 2007 at Theatre West, 333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, in Hollywood. For reservations, call (33) 851-7977 or go online at .
Reviewed by Robert Axelrod     

DANCING AT LUGHNASA is a memory play whose story is told by middle aged Michael Mundy (Donald Moore). Itıs the story of his mother Christina (Heather Keller), and her sisters Maggie, Agnes, Rose, and Kate, and one uncle Jack, all living under the same roof in what must be a roomy cottage two miles outside of the village of Ballybeg, County Donegal, Ireland. All are unmarried (Michael is indeed illegitimate) and seem to be happy living together, despite being impoverished. Uncle Jack (Walter Beery) is a missionary priest recovering his faculties lost via an unnamed illness (probably a stroke).    Sister Kate (Mary Linda Phillips) is a schoolteacher and the sternest of the lot, while sister Rose (Jeanine Anderson) is the most childlike. Sister Maggie (Mary Garripoli) is the jolliest. Christina is just recovering from a depression she suffered when Michaelıs father Gerry left.  

Michael brings us back to 1936 at age nine, when changes are approaching that will affect the lives of the family. The Industrial Revolution is finally about to hit their little corner of the world, and WW II is just a few years away. The way the sisters cope with it all is to entertain each other by dancing to the radio they keep on the bureau. Lughnasa refers to a Celtic festival with its roots in pagan antiquity. The sisters survive on Kateıs teaching salary and what they can take in sewing. They follow the on again off again romance between sister Christina and Michaelıs father Gerry Evans (Yancey Durham), whoıs just come back after a thirteen month absence to court Christina and ask her to marry him. They nurture Uncle Jack, hoping he will return to preaching Sunday sermons. They survive as merrily as their own individual psyches will allow them to. They will not allow themselves the joy of attending the yearly Harvest Dance as they used to when they were younger. It seems that age has wrought worry for some unsaid arbitrary reason. Therein lies the sistersı tragedy and future, which according to Michaelıs final monologue, is somewhat bleak. 

Brian Friel is the author of this play, which won a Tony. It was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep. One can see why on both counts. The play is rich in texture and language.    The Theatre West cast handles this language with a fair amount of deftness, enough to carry this production into a healthy run. The direction, by Theatre Westıs Executive Director John Gallogly, is firm and sure. This is not a plot play, itıs a character play, and each character is sharply etched and uniquely portrayed. I give this production a firm THREE AXELS and recommend a viewing.
Reviewed by Sheelagh O'Connor

Last night was the opening night of this fascinating play at Theater West in West Universal City. The director, John Gallogly, writes in the program notes: “Thank you for taking the passage back across the sea to examine the place we all left to arrive where we are, and in looking into our past, perhaps recognize a bit of what we remain”.

With many thanks to the performance of Walter Beery as Jack Mundy, I felt challenged to the true depth of this play. Here was the brother of these five Irish sisters who left Ballybeg, to go live in Africa for many years. He spoke Swahili the whole time he was there, he learned and lived the customs of the African people, and experienced the full joys of a less repressed culture. He reminisces about the ceremonies, he forgets English words but relives the experiences. He talks of his trusted manservant he left behind, who enjoyed dressing up in his clothes, amongst many other duties performed!

However, his sisters are living in the memory and glory of his role as a priest and how important that is to their status in this small cold damp Irish town in 1936. They want him to say mass, to return to their way of life, but he has gone past those beliefs. They think he is dementing, he is not in tune with their small town existence.

The radio in the house is such a strong source of life and energy that they give it a name, “The Marconi”. This unreliable box brings music and joy to the house. The sisters dance to the music, a grim life is left behind, but there is danger for repressed religious souls in this joy. It can lead to sex, ecstasy, and even abandonment, as we hear of the events of Lughnasa. Where do the people of Ireland find joy in this grim poverty stricken land of beauty and sorrow? Not in the church, but rather at a pagan festival, the festival of Lughnasa.

Mary Garripoli played the role of Maggie Mundy, full of “devilment”, fun, laughter, telling jokes and riddles and teasing her young “out of wedlock” nephew. Her presence onstage was electric, every gesture or look conveyed more than words can tell. There is a fountain of pure joy bursting out of this character, despite her disappointments in life.

All of the characters experienced disappointment and shame. A very beautiful Mary Linda Phillips played the part of Kate Mundy, the eldest sister, critical and joyless in sharp contrast to her sister Maggie. There is tragedy in the memory and story telling of all of these lives that ended up so badly, the sisters who ran off to London, the priest brother who dies only a year after coming home to Ireland, the losing of jobs, the out of wedlock shame, the young father who loves, but does not know how to handle life at all.

I would love to see this play again, without the Irish accents. Are they really necessary? They were a distraction to me. There are so many layers to this play, it seems a pity to distract us with phoney Irish accents. However, it was still a powerful and delightful experience for me.


The Tolucan Times
Nite Lights
Reviewed by Pat Taylor

LOS ANGELES – This is the third in a series of collaborative efforts between Theatre West and Charlie Mounts, “Chestnuts,” offering great play revivals, is an in depth Irish family drama. Written by Irish playwright, Brian Friel, it first ran in Ireland in 1990, and then on Broadway in 1992, winning a Tony award. It tells a lovely, though overly lengthy heartwarming story. It is 1936 in Ballybeg, Ireland, at the cottage of the impoverished Mundy family. (Stunning set design by Jeff Rack.) Five adult sisters, one offspring, and their sickly brother (a priest) struggle lovingly through life’s challenges, both emotionally and monetarily. A devoted family, each with their own quirks and dreams, it is familial love and support, that gets them through these turbulent times. The story is told/narrated in retrospect, by Christina’s out of wedlock son, Michael (a strong and focused Donald Moore). Directed with heartfelt passion by John Gallogly, the cast gives dedicated depictions (though at times some of the Irish accents did a “jig” of their own.) Especially effective were the cast’s freeze frame moments during Michael’s narratives. Solid standout performances by Mary Linda Phillips, as Kate, the eldest sister, a stern but caring school teacher; Heather Keller, as Christina, the lonely unwed mother; and Walter Beery as Father Jack, their kooky, ailing brother. The rest of this fine cast includes: Yancey Dunham as Gerry, Michael’s irresponsible absentee Father, Mary Garripoli as the spirited Maggie, Jeanine Anderson (Rose) and Kathie Barnes (Agnes) who eventually flee the family together, to explore the outside world. A technically appealing production, thanks to: Russell Boast (lighting), Charlie Mount (sound) and choreography by Maire Clerkin. A meaningful slice of life Irish journey, which many will find infectiously involving, but for my personal taste it was laboriously slow moving and much too long. Running through March 11 at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Los Angeles. For seats/times call (323) 851-7977.

The LA Weekly
Reviewed by Deborah Klugman

A paean to music and Irish womanhood, Brian Friel’s memory play centers on five unmarried sisters living in a small Irish town in 1936. In a spot-on performance, Donald Moore as the narrator, Michael, frames the story with fluid ease, lending Friel’s prose a full measure of eloquence. Michael’s the illegitimate son of Chris (Heather Keller), a moody woman still carrying a torch for the footloose and fancy-free Welsh Lothario (Yancey Dunham) who fathered her child. The family’s secure parochial nest has recently been ruffled by the return, after a 25-year absence, of the women’s brother, Jack (Walter Beery). Formerly a priest-missionary in Uganda, he’s acquired, to the dismay of eldest sister Kate (Mary Linda Phillips), a pronounced dementia and openly expressed admiration for African ritual and tradition. As the clan’s sharp-tongued mainstay, Phillips presides with vitality and focus, while Keller, in moments, capably expresses a lovelorn individual’s desperation. Otherwise, under John Gallogly’s direction, an uneven ensemble inclines to staginess. THEATRE WEST, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 17. (323) 851-7977.



"Chestnuts is commendably affording new audiences a chance at seeing productions that might have been lost to history.”
~ Back Stage West

Produced by Charlie Mount
Directed by John Gallogly
Set Design by Jeff Rack
Lighting Design
by Russell Boast
Choreography by
Maire Clerkin
Stage Manager: Roger Cruz
Press/Media contact
: Philip Sokoloff, (626) 683-9205
Board Operator:
Courtney Webb

Jeanine Anderson
Kathie Barnes
Walter Beery
Yancey Dunham
Mary Garripoli
Heather Keller
Don Moore
Mary Linda Phillips

Photos by John Gallogly and Charlie Mount
Poster Design by Charlie Mount

All Shows at Theatre West are Wheelchair Accessible. Bathrooms are not Wheelchair Accessible.

Made possible with a grant from the Lloyd E. Rigler - Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation