Even as the evenings of ghostly storytelling near their end, the pub mates at The Weir keep on, working towards their closing Nov. 28 (exactly four days before the Lauren Bacall-Rosemary Harris Waiting in the Wings begins performances). Newest in their midst is Drama Desk and Obie Award winner Niall Buggy, who took the role of the oldest gentleman, Jack, Oct. 14.
Buggy, a Dublin native and current Londoner, won the Drama Desk, Obie, Clarence Derwent and Time Out Awards as Casimir in the Manhattan Theatre Club's 1989 production of Brian Friel's Aristocrats. Buggy thinks it was more the character than himself that captured those honors. "Casimir in Aristocrats -- Everybody just fell in love with him, you know. People just loved him. People would come up to me in the streets and talk to me -- which they do any way in New York, as you know!"
Other credits have included the Lincoln Center Festival and Dublin Uncle Vanya (an "Irish Times" Award winner), films like "The Butcher Boy" and "Playboys" and Manhattan Theatre Club's Shadow of a Gunman. In his career, he also garnered an Olivier for Best Comedy Actor and a Theatre Award for Best Actor.
His current role, Jack, was not a stranger to Buggy who performed the role in London for four months before being called back to the States for the Lincoln Center Vanya. No victim of ghostly occurrences in his own life (although as he admits a fear of the dark and always sleeps with some visible light), Buggy sees Jack as a cautionary tale for the younger characters.
"He's a very lonely, interesting human being. But I think the most important aspect of him is the advice he tries to give to the younger people which is 'Don't miss out on lost opportunity.' That's basically his message to the rest of the characters... I think Jack is terrified that Brendan, the barman, will end up as he. Because if you don't move out of those little towns when you're young, then you're stuck there for your life," he said. Comparing the London and New York audience reactions to The Weir, Buggy comes down in favor of the Americans. "I love the New York audience. They react much more strongly than they do in London. They laugh more... It seems to me [New Yorkers] listen to the English language more carefully. They get nuances other people don't, that they connect with."
Along side his love for NYC's theatregoers, which he insists is not convenient to his current locale, Buggy is clearly in love with the city itself. "I love working in New York. It's great for me, really. It's my favorite city in the world."
In fact, after his work on The Weir is finished, Buggy wouldn't mind staying. "I think I might try and get a green card -- I would love to be able to work here more," he said, although his next project may be a film version of Brendan Behan's The Borstal Boy back home.
Already set in The Weir are replacements Jarlath Conroy and David Herlihy. Conroy, coming from the cast of The Iceman Cometh, joined the cast as Finbar Sept. 15, stepping in for Dermot Crowley. A Dublin actor who most recently appeared on Broadway in Translations, Herlihy replaced Brendan Coyle as Brendan Sept. 19.
Remaining with The Weir until the closing are Kieran Ahern (Brooklyn Academy of Music's The Steward of Christendom) as Jimmy and Michele Fairley (Never Land, Oleanna) as Valerie.
Conor McPherson's play of small town pub regulars who are spend a night telling ghostly stories to impress their new neighbor, a quiet young Dublin woman, opened on Broadway April 1, 1999. Although the play received no Tony nominations, The Weir will be the last survivor of 1999's new plays with a run of 276 performances. All four Best Play nominees, Tennessee William's Not About Nightingales, Martin McDonagh's The Lonesome West, Patrick Marber's Closer and Warren Leigh's Best Play winner Side Man, have closed.
For tickets ($60), call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200. The Walter Kerr Theatre is located at 219 W. 48th Street.