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.
It’s always amazed me how insults delivered with an upper-class English accent don’t sound so harsh.
For instance, “I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result,” which appears in Act II of the laugh-a-minute comedy “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde.
Between them, actors Michael Cumpsty and Dee Hoty have been in 29 Broadway shows and earned four Tony Award nominations.
They pop up often as guest stars on TV shows filmed in and around the New York metro area, including “Blue Bloods,” “Law and Order,” “Elementary,” “Madam Secretary” and “Smash.” They also do the occasional feature films.
Asked what they prefer doing, the answer was a resounding “being on the stage,” especially in regional theaters such as the Two River Theater where they open tomorrow night in “The Lion in Winter” in the lead roles of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Tony Award nominee and Obie Award winner Michael Cumpsty (The End of the Rainbow, Hamlet) and three-time Tony Award nominee Dee Hoty (Footloose, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, The Will Rogers Follies) star as Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine in “The Lion in Winter” opening tonight at the Two River Theater in Red Bank.
Also in the cast of this American classic are Noah Averbach-Katz (John), KeiLyn Durrel Jones (Richard), Ronald Peet (Philip), Hubert Point-Du Jour (Geoffrey), and Madeleine Rogers (Alais).
The creative team for The Lion in Winter includes scenic designer Kristen Robinson, costume designer Andrea Hood, lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, and sound designer Josh Schmidt. The hair and makeup design is by Dave Bova & J. Jarad Janas, the fight direction is by J. Steven White.
Performances continue through Sunday, Dec. 4 in Two River’s Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, NJ. Tickets are available from 732.345.1400 or tworivertheater.org.
Two River Theater tonight announced its 2016-2017 season, which includes Michael Cumptsy as Henry II in “The Lion in Winter” and Ruben Santiago-Hudson directing August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Cumpsty and Santiago-Hudson, comfortable on NYC stages, bring their Broadway level work to regional theaters. Both men are returning to what they consider their second home which 2River fans are happy about.
“English” actor Michael Cumpsty has only appeared once in a professional theater production in the country where he was born. The rest of his career in major movies, major TV series and major Broadway plays and musicals has been on this side of the Atlantic.