Michael Countryman, Ciarán O'Reilly, Orlagh Cassidy Begin Dancing at Lughnasa at Irish Rep

News   Michael Countryman, Ciarán O'Reilly, Orlagh Cassidy Begin Dancing at Lughnasa at Irish Rep The Irish Repertory Theatre in Manhattan launches its new production of Irish playwright Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa  — considered by many to be his masterpiece for its rich weave of family conflict and societal shifts — on Oct. 20.

Michael Countryman
Michael Countryman Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Billed as the 20th-anniversary production — based on the 1991 Broadway engagement, for which Friel won the Best Play Tony Award — the new Off-Broadway staging is directed by Charlotte Moore (Molly Sweeney), IRT's artistic director.

The cast includes Orlagh Cassidy (Present Laughter, Drama Desk nominee for Irish Rep's The Field), Kevin Collins (The Yeats Project), Michael Countryman (Mary Stuart, Drama Desk nominee for The Common Pursuit), Annabel Hägg, Jo Kinsella, Aedín Moloney (Hobson's Choice, The Playboy of the Western World), Ciarán O'Reilly (Molly Sweeney, Candida) and Rachel Pickup.

Opening night is Oct. 30 at Irish Repertory's Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage at 132 W. 22nd Street.

"The play summons back the memories of the end of the summer of 1936 on the eve of the celebration of the Harvest God, Lugh," according to Irish Rep notes. "The five unmarried Mundy sisters — named for Friel's Mother and Sisters — live in a modest Irish cottage in Donegal. On this threshold of golden autumn, the house revolves around eight-year-old love-child, Michael, and the brother priest, Father Jack, who has recently returned from 25 years in a leper colony in Uganda. Tribal Customs and Christian beliefs clash as blazing fires stoke an abandon to Lugh leaving the Mundy sisters sentenced to live purely in the past or absolutely in the present. With unfailing courage, and loving forgiveness all things conspire to irretrievably change the golden season of the Mundy's as they dance in a final celebration of life before it changes forever."

Friel's best-known plays include Molly Sweeney, Translations, Faith Healer, Aristocrats and Philadelphia, Here I Come! Dancing at Lughnasa ran for more than 400 performances on Broadway, winning the Tony Award for Best Play and snagging a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding New Play. Meryl Streep starred in a 1998 film version.

The production features set design by Antje Ellerman; costume design by Linda Fisher; lighting design by Richard Pilbrow and Michael Gottlieb; music by Ryan Rumery and Christian Frederickson; sound by M. Florian Staab; choreography by Barry McNabb; hair and wig design by Robert-Charles Vallance; props by Deirdre Brennan. The production stage manager is Pamela Brusoski. Assistant stage manager is Rebecca C. Monroe.

Dancing at Lughnasa will play to Dec. 11. For more information, call (212) 727-2737 or visit www.irishrep.org.

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