ST. PATRICK'S DAY - MARCH 17!
and Sat at 8pm. Sun at 2pm.
$20. Seniors $15. Students $5.
is a very short little teaser featuring the cast and
director in rehearsal. Quicktime needed.
engaging piece well suited to this GIFTED
~ Backstage West
actors play their roles brilliantly..."
~ Carol Kaufman Segal ReviewPlays.com
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
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
Directed with HEARTFELT
~ The Tolucan Times
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
DANCING AT LUGHNASA
Reviewed by Dink O'Neal
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.
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.
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.
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.
DANCING AT LUGHNASA
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!
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!
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!
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 http://www.theatrewest.org
by Carol Kaufman Segal
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.
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.
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 www.theatrewest.org .
DANCING AT LUGHNASA
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.
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
DANCING AT LUGHNASA
Reviewed by Sheelagh O'Connor
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”.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
DANCING AT LUGHNASA
Reviewed by Deborah Klugman
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.