Can't get tickets to Irish Repertory Theatre's sold-out, Off-Broadway run of the revue, The Irish. . .And How They Got That Way? The revue closed at the Rep's home on West 22nd St., Nov. 2 to make room for the company's next mainstage production, Major Barbara, beginning Nov. 15. But here's the clover part: The Irish will move across the street to the Chelsea Playhouse, 125 West 22nd St., reopening Nov. 20 for a run through Jan. 4, 1998.
A comic and lyrical reminiscence, Irish was assembled by Frank McCourt, whose Angela's Ashes won Pulitzer and National Book Award prizes. Irish Rep Artistic Director Charlotte Moore stages the play, which opened Oct. 2.
The show mixes traditional Irish songs like "Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra" and "Danny Boy" with an account of Irish history and the Irish immigrants' experience in America, drawing on quotes from Irish writers and historical documents. Author McCourt was born in Brooklyn but spent his childhood in Limerick, which he termed, "a real city in an imaginary country."
Starring in the show are Irish Rep vets Terry Donnelly, Ciaran O'Reilly (the company's co-founder), Marion Tomas Griffin, Rusty Magee and Ciaran Sheehan. When the show transfers, Donnelly will join the Major Barbara cast and be replaced by Donna Kane (Meet In St. Louis). Rosemary Fine will replace Griffin.
Irish Rep producing director will stay in the show, but since he has other duties on Major Barbara and the second-stage Rafferty Rescues The Moon, The Irish...And How They Got That Way will move its curtain time to 8:15, to O'Reilly time to rush over to the Chelsea Playhouse. Designing Irish are David Toser (costumes) and Shawn Lewis (sets).
Following Irish at Irish Rep will be George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara. As he did with The Importance Of Being Earnest last season, Tony Walton will direct and design Barbara, starting previews Nov. 15 for a Nov. 25 opening and a run through Jan. 4, 1998. Melissa Errico, who starred in Walton's Importance Of Being Earnest last season, will star as Barbara. Also featured in Barbara are Donnelly, Boyd Gaines (Company, She Loves Me), Scott Beehner, Thomas Carson, Schulyer Grant, Paul McGrane, Charlotte Moore (artistic director), Jack Ryland and Rob Sedgewick.
Two other plays are expected for the mainstage in the spring.
On Irish Rep's second stage will be the puppetry piece, Rafferty Rescues The Moon. The piece is written by June Anderson and directed by Bob Flanagan and Akira Yoshimura. It's the story of a young Irish boy who sets out to rescue the moon, which has been swallowed by the terrible Great Fish. Meeting Rafferty on his journey are a poet, a witch, a ghostly wraith and Mergatroyd, the slippery green Merrow.
Rafferty features the actors/puppeteers Gabriel Lewis, Brad Barton, Tess Eastment, Lisa Haim, Mike Thomas Greenlake and Russell Tucker. Puppet designs are by Den Design Studio, which Flanagan founded. Joe Detullio contributed scenic designs; Ken Davis created the lighting. Larry Kirwan composed the show's original music.
Previews for Rafferty begin Oct. 31. The show opens Nov. 2 and runs to Jan. 4, 1998.
Founded in 1988 by Moore and Ciaran O'Reilly, Irish Repertory Theatre took a big leap three years ago when they moved into their charming, jewel-box home on West 22nd St. Among their most notable productions have been a Harold Prince-directed Grandchild Of Kings, the Walton-directed Importance Of Being Earnest, and Brian Murray starring in Da.
The play was read at Broadway's Golden Theatre in May 1997 as a fundraiser for Irish Rep, featuring Peter Gallagher, Eric Stoltz, folksinger Tommy Makem.
For information on the Irish Repertory Theatre season call (212) 727 2737.
--By David Lefkowitz