O'Malley, O'Ryan, O'Brien, O'Cohen...
If your last name begins with the letter "O," you can get a free ticket to the Nov. 17 performance of Finnegan's Farewell, an interactive comedy playing an open run at St. Luke's Church off-Broadway.
Kevin Alexander's conceptual musical comedy script puts patrons and cast together as mourners with the Finnegan family. A funeral procession, complete with rolling casket and bagpipe players, then marches to the Edison Hotel (221 W. 46th Street) to a "farewell celebration" with traditional Irish food (corned beef and cabbage) and entertainment -- music (by The Dublineers), singing, keening and Irish step dancing. The premise -- with a nod to James Joyce -- is that Finnegan left instructions in his will for a raucous celebration at his wake.
Those who qualify for free tickets (and that includes people whose last names don't carry an Irish-style apostrophe, such as Oscar, Oberlander, OyamO, etc.) should call (212) 869-6111 for information. (The number for regular tickets is Ticket Central, (212) 279 4200.) Production spokesperson Gary Shaffer said that if the promotion works and brings more publicity to the show, Finnegan may end up having a "Mc" or "Mac" night in the months to come.
Producer Joseph Corcoran is hoping Finnegan's Farewell will be as lively at the box office as his interactive productions of Tony n' Tina's Wedding and Late Nite Catechism. The show was developed in May previews, but had its seeds in Atlantic City and in "a couple of country clubs," according to the producer. A small scale opening was held Aug. 4, but the show's official premiere was Sept. 22.
Like Tony n' Tina's Wedding, which Corcoran also produces, the show uses St. Luke's and the Edison as the setting for interactive family events that are fictional, comic and spiked with improv.
A cast of 28 performs Farewell 7 PM Wednesdays and 2 PM Saturdays in repertory with Tony n' Tina's Wedding and Late Nite Catechism (which respectively tweak Italian-Americans and Catholics). Mark Aldrich, Sharon Angela, Tommy Carroll, Norma Crawford, Darren Dooley, Elton Laron, Shawn McLean, Elizabeth Nagengast, Robert R. Oliver, Katherine O'Sullivan, Erin Pender, Tade Reen, Roger Rifkin, Bart Shatto and Christine Siracusa comprise the main cast, with Meghan Allen, Bridget Geerlings, Meaghan Geerlings, Shannon Gheerlings and Siobhan Geerlings offering support as "the RiverKids."
Asked in May how Finnegan differs from such entertainments as the regionally-popular Rafferty's Irish Wake, producer Corcoran told Playbill On-Line his idea is to mix the comedy and audience participation of Tony n' Tina with the dance and spirit of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance.
For more information on Finnegan's Farewell check out their website, http://www.finnegansfarewell.com.
-- By Kenneth Jones
and David Lefkowitz