City Theater Company gets their Irish up for the 21st season, opening in December with a reimagined staging of James Joyce’s The Dead. Richard Nelson won the Tony Award for Best Musical Book in 2000 for his adaptation of the short story that closes out Joyce’s seminal collection The Dubliners. The music is by Shaun Davey, with lyrics conceived and adapted by Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey.
The scene is set at the Misses Morkans’ annual holiday party for an evening of rousing songs, poignant ballads, saucy jokes, ceili dancing, and plenty of pints. Producing Artistic Director Michael Gray transports the players out of Victorian times and into a modern-day Dublin. Set designers Vicki Neal and Richard Kendrick are creating a typical Irish pub out of the Black Box at OperaDelaware. The bar is open for the show’s duration and patrons may enjoy booth and table seating as if they are at the party.
Gray chose the pub setting as a nod to CTC’s early days and the many plays the troupe presented at O’Friel’s Irish Pub in downtown Wilmington. “We started off as pub theater, and it’s a great Irish tradition. The pub is the center of the town. It’s where music is played, songs are heard, stories are told – all over drinks and dancing and good company. It’s a place that teems with life. And that is part of the story we are telling in The Dead.”
Actor Mary Catherine Kelley plays one of the hostesses, the elderly Aunt Julia. “A pub is the perfect place for The Dead, and its celebration of life and loss in the grand Irish tradition” says Kelley. “I’m not a big Joyce fan, but The Dubliners is a fine piece of work, and perfect for theater. Add some Irish music to that lilting prose, and all those emotions flowing as freely as the libations – and it’s a story that speaks to everyone, beautifully.”
Gray also sees the piece as quintessentially Irish. “These characters are bickering about national pride one moment and swinging each other into a raucous dance the next. You’ve got undercurrents of love and loss and sorrow and joy throughout; you’ve got the partygoers’ shared and individual ghosts haunting the festivities. Add in liquor and music and it becomes a gathering like my own Irish family is known for! Having all that play out in our pub is going to be fascinating and fun to witness.”
James Joyce’s The Dead features the talents of Kerry Kristine McElrone, Paul McElwee, Emma Orr, Dylan Geringer, Mary Catherine Kelley, Katie Donovan, Tim Donovan, Brendan Sheehan, Joshua Dowiak, Rick Fountas, Valerie Hutchison, Jenna Kuerzi, Lily Ozer, Patrick O’Hara, Michelle Ferdinand, and Lisa Tolomeo. Directed by Michael Gray. Music direction by Joe Trainor. Choreography by Dawn Morningstar. Irish dancing by Eileen Moran. Scenic and lighting design by Vicki Neal and Richard Kendrick. Costume design by Lauren Peters and Kerry Kristine McElrone.
TICKET DETAILS: General admission $25. Limited VIP seating $40 and includes complimentary drinks, choice seating, and cast-signed program. Production runs Friday, December 5 through Saturday, December 20, 2014. All shows 8:00 p.m. except one 2:00 p.m. matinee Sunday, December 14. All shows at The Black Box at Opera Delaware Studios, 4 South Poplar Street, Wilmington, DE 19805. Tickets available now at city-theater.org.
Join Suzy & Tracy of NorthDelaWHEREHappening, as they help City Theater Company host a proper Irish holiday party! CTC transforms the Black Box at OperaDelaware Studios into an Irish pub to celebrate James Joyce’s ‘The Dead.’ Based on the famous short story, this musical tells the tale of a holiday party where love and loss collide amidst an evening of rousing anthems, poignant ballads, saucy jokes, ceili dancing, and plenty of pints.Thursday, December 11 is NorthDelaWHEREHappening Night at CTC, where you’ll find these two ladies behind the bar and at the box office, making sure you’re evening will be filled with cheer. Curtain at 8:00pm. Tickets $25 general-$40 VIP. Available now at city-theater.org.