St. Patrick’s Day is in the rearview mirror but two weeks from today Brain Friel’s “Dancing at Lughnasa,” winner of the 1992 Tony Award for Best Play, begins performances at Two River Theater in Red Bank. Opening night is April 20.
Friel’s play — set in the summer of 1936 during the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasa — is considered a modern masterpiece about the Mundy sisters, five unmarried women who live together in County Donegal, on the west coast of Ireland. Their brother, Father Jack, has just returned from 25 years as a missionary in Uganda.
The story is based on the memories of the narrator, Michael, the grown-up illegitimate son of one of the sisters. He also speaks the lines of his 7-year-old self about that summer, when everything seemed to be on the brink of change.
Dedicated to Friel’s aunts, “Dancing at Lughnasa” is suffused with tenderness and darkness as it evokes two days in the life of the family, and their desires, struggles, and ambitions.
The cast includes one of my all-time favorite stage actors, the mesmerizing Michael Cumpsty whose every performance is like a mini-master class on acting, in the role of Jack.
Harry Smith plays Michael, and the rest of the cast includes Megan Byrne (Kate), Meredith Garretson (Chris), Mylinda Hull (Maggie), Cillian O’Sullivan (Gerry), Christa Scott-Reed (Agnes), Mandy Siegfried (Rose).
Jessica Stone, who previously directed an excellent and innovate production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (with another absolutely incredible stage actor Michael Urie) as well as “Absurd Person Singular” at Two River.
Performances at Two River’s Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Ave. begin Saturday, April 14, and continue through Sunday, May 13. Tickets are available by calling 732-345-1400 or visit tworivertheater.org.
The creative team includes choreographer Connor Gallagher, scenic designer Tobin Ost, costume designer Gabriel Berry, lighting designer Jason Lyons, sound designer Drew Levy, hair designer Cookie Jordan and dialect coach Blake Segal. The casting is by Alaine Alldaffer & Lisa Donadio, and the production stage manager is Megan Smith.
Tickets range from $40 to $70, with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families, and veterans. A limited number of $20 tickets are available for every performance (some may be partial view). Tickets for patrons under 30 are $20 and include the best available seats at every performance. Tickets are available from tworivertheater.org or 732.345.1400.
Inside Two River
Inside Two River is a series of events specially curated for each Two River Theater production. For more information or to reserve seats, patrons should visit tworivertheater.org or call 732.345.1400.
Travel Chat: A Taste of Ireland, led by CIE International Tours & Excel Travel, 1 p.m. Sunday, April 15
Experts from CIE Tours will present an audio-visual presentation about the unique travel experiences that can be enjoyed in Ireland. This event will include an opportunity for participants to ask questions and receive exclusive discounts.
A Series of Irish Talks, presented as part of the Conversation + Play salon series curated by the producers of the TEDxAsburyPark conference and Two River Theater, 7 p.m. Monday, April 16
Three guest speakers will each present brief talk on their area of expertise. A Q&A session will follow and light refreshments will be served
Meet-up with Madeleine, Saturday, April 21 following the 3 p.m. performance.
Post-show discussion series with Two River’s Playwright-in-Residence, Madeleine George. Patrons are invited to enjoy refreshments and conversation on topics including Brian Friel, the play’s themes, elements of the production, and more.
Before Play: Audiences learn about Brian Friel and this production of “Dancing at Lughnasa” in Two River’s Before Play lecture series, which takes place 45 minutes prior to every performance, and Lobby Display.
Post-Play Conversations: Discussions with the cast and a member of Two River’s artistic staff will take place following performances on Wednesday, April 25 at 7 p.m.; Sunday, April 29 at 3 p.m., and Wednesday, May 2 at 1 p.m.
Working with Google, Two River has created and launched a virtual tour of its facility, which lives on Google Maps and tworivertheater.org. This virtual tour provides an additional level of support and benefit for patrons who use wheelchairs or require other assistance by allowing them to virtually come through the theater’s front doors and view the space in detail in advance of their visit.
An audio-described performance is scheduled for Wednesday, May 2 at 1 p.m.; an open-captioned performance is scheduled for Saturday, May 5 at 3 p.m.; and a sign-interpreted performance is scheduled for Sunday, May 12 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at a discounted rate of $25 for patrons using these services. To reserve wheelchair-accessible seating or tickets to a performance listed above, patrons should call 732-345-1400 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, April 14 at 8pm
Sunday, April 15 at 3pm
Wednesday, April 18 at 1 pm and 7pm
Thursday, April 19 at 8pm
Friday, April 20 at 7pm (Opening Night)
Saturday, April 21 at 3pm and 8pm
Sunday, April 22 at 3pm
Wednesday, April 25 at 1pm and 7pm
Thursday, April 26 at 10am (student matinee) and 8pm
Friday, April 27 at 8pm
Saturday, April 28 at 3pm and 8pm
Sunday, April 29 at 3pm
Wednesday, May 2 at 1pm and 7pm
Thursday, May 3 at 10am (student matinee) and 8pm
Friday, May 4 at 8pm
Saturday, May 5 at 3pm and 8pm
Sunday, May 6 at 3pm
Wednesday, May 9 at 1pm and 7pm
Thursday, May 10 at 10am (student matinee) and 8pm
Friday, May 11 at 8pm
Saturday, May 12 at 3pm and 8pm
Sunday, May 13 at 3pm
Since its founding in 1994, Two River Theater has been committed to creating great American theater by developing and producing work by some of the country’s leading artists. We are proud to be viewed as a vital cultural resource in the community of Red Bank, New Jersey. Through 10 theatrical productions each year (including world premieres, musicals, classics and theater for young audiences) and 40+ annual events happening around Monmouth County, we produce exceptional theater and cultivate engaged audiences. Two River Theater is under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst. For more information, visit tworivertheater.org or call 732-345-1400.