Murguly to direct a roller coaster

Dancing at Lughnasa can have people laughing one minute, eyes filled with tears the next

Some of the cast of ECHO Players’ Dancing at Lughnasa rehearse their roles before the April 5 opening night performance.

Some of the cast of ECHO Players’ Dancing at Lughnasa rehearse their roles before the April 5 opening night performance.

The Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach has been a hub of activity as ECHO Players gets ready to present Dancing at Lughnasa by one of Ireland’s best loved playwrights, Brian Friel.

Opening on April 5 the play is at once heartbreaking, poignant, and also uproariously funny.

Director Sue Murguly believes that Friel offers vividly real characters and the audience will find themselves laughing one minute, and the next their eyes will be filled with tears.

Set in the summer of 1936 in a house in a remote part of County Donegal the five Mundy sisters live a simple life with older brother Jack, a missionary priest, and seven-year old Michael.

Barely able to make ends meet, the sisters acquire their first wireless radio and dream of happiness and love.  Years later as Michael looks back at the events of that summer, a tender and passionate portrait of the Mundy sisters’ lives unfolds.

Friel’s Tony Award winning masterpiece is a bittersweet reflection on life in rural Ireland in the 1930s.

Dancing at Lughnasa is often referred to as a Memory Play.  It uses a favourite Frielian device of framing narrative that turns the main action into a sustained flashback. The story is told by the grown up love child of the youngest sister, Chris.  As a middle aged man Michael casts his mind back to late summer 1936, when he was seven, and he relates some of the events that are going to change his, and the sisters’ lives forever.

It includes the arrival of uncle Jack who, after25 years as a missionary in a remote village in Uganda, has been sent home for going native; the purchase of a Marconi wireless set, his absent father Gerry’s two visits during that summer, and the arrival of a knitting factory.

Murguly who has previously directed  Educating Rita, Oleanna and Lettice and Lovage for ECHO Players, has assembled an impressive cast that includes; Don Harper who plays the role of Michael, the play’s narrator.

Harper, who has been part of the ECHO Players family for the last seven years — both acting and directing, said he was thrilled to take on the role of Michael because the dialogue is so powerful.

“It is an incredibly well written script.  The language is beautiful.  It flows so beautifully,” he admitted.

Harper said although he has several very large monologues as the narrator of the play he said they haven’t been that difficult to memorize.

“Sometimes it is easier to memorize than short snappy lines.  You are dependent on yourself and don’t have to remember a que.”

He agrees the play is can be very serious at times and has some tender moving moments that bring a tear to your eye.

“These are nostalgic times for the boy.  Michael’s recollections are poignant. He only saw his father who was a drifter on occasions and he has a longing for his father,” Harper said about his role.

He added that it has been a joy working with Murguly as the director and the rest of the cast.

Kate, the unyielding, primly efficient schoolteacher is played by Vicki Barta.  Kelly Barnum, plays the fun loving and spirited Maggie. Melody Barta plays Rose, the forever youthful guileless sister. Agnes, the caring middle sister is being played by Shaleigh Spence.  Chris, Michael’s mother, is played by Althea Rose.

Completing this superb cast is Geoffrey Moddle as care-free Gerry and Alistair McVey as Father Jack, a missionary priest who has just returned from Africa.

Alistair said he is enjoying playing the role of Jack who he describes as a sympathetic and warm character.

“It’s a wonderful part,” he admitted and added he is lucky to have it.

Alistair said the play, which opened on Broadway in October, 1991 and won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Play, continues to be performed all over the world because it is such a beautiful production.

Alistair’s wife Lesley is producing the play which, after its run on the Village Theatre stage ,will be taken to the North Island Zone Theatre Festival in Courtenay May 18.

Lesley agreed there is always pressure when you take a production to a drama festival but she looks forward to the feedback from the out of town visitors and the advice that will be handed out by the adjudicator.

“I like this play.  I was delighted when ECHO chose to do it,” she said.

The McVeys have been involved in the community theatre ever since they moved to Qualicum Beach in 2001.  Both admit they enjoy all aspects of the theatre including working backstage.

“In community theatre you have to be prepared to do everything,” said Lesley.

The two said they usually both get involved in a production because it makes things less complicated on the home front.

“If one of us is going to be out three nights a week for three months … we might as well both be out,” agreed Alistair.

The upcoming production is also an opportunity to showcase the talents of the various members of the community who have created an authentic setting of a 1930s rural Irish cottage.

The skills of Ian Taylor and Mick Banks in building replica furniture have been combined with the generous assistance of Elizabeth Rosewell of Mildred’s Memorabilia in providing many of the genuine antique items to be found on stage.  Mo Ross and Jeannie Ackles-Cardinal have also contributed to the atmosphere with their skills at painting and decorating the set.

 

Dancing at Lughnasa runs April 5 to 22 at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach 110 West 2nd Ave.  For further information or tickets visit www.echoplayers.ca or phone 250-752-3522.

 

 

Just Posted

The proposed running track upgrade at Ballenas Secondary is now on course. (PQB News file photo)
RDN: Parksville track upgrade project gains some traction

Staff recommends board approve $204,000 funding

The total earnings of Town of Qualicum Beach council and mayor amounted to $186,649 in 2020, including expenses. (Town of Qualicum Beach photo)
Nine Qualicum Beach town employees earned more than $100K in 2020

Mayor and council received earnings totalling $186,649

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Terry Mazzei next to a truck after it was struck by lightning, with him inside, on Wednesday afternoon, June 9. He walked away from the incident without injury and the truck sustained only mild damage; a blown front tire and newly broken gas gauge. (Wendy Mazzei photo)
Nanoose Bay man walks away unscathed after lightning strike

VIDEO: ‘We like to think that his dad was watching over him’

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read