Brian Friel’s memory play Dancing at Lughnasa has lost none of its magic since it first premiered in 1990. Now a celebrated local production of the play is open at the Schoolhouse Theater in Croton Falls, New York, and it provides the public with another opportunity to experience Friel’s magic.
Telling the tale of the five spirited Mundy sisters in the summer of 1936, the play is told from the point of view of Michael Evans the narrator, who recalls the summer it seemed his aunts might briefly find the love and peace they all crave, before the sadness and poverty circling them finally pulls them all apart forever.
A revival of the sellout spring production at the same venue, audiences were literally turned away at that time, leading to this highly anticipated autumn revival.
Actress Heather Girardi, who plays the wisecracking Maggie, found the role and the production so magical that she had to say yes to another encore.
“All performers in this production turn in outstanding performances,” she tells the Irish Voice. “It’s a masterful script and a funny and heartbreaking story. I’m not surprised audiences love it.”
Girardi is especially good in the role of Maggie, the kind and spirited sister who provides a necessary balance against her controlling older sister Kate.
With her humor and her love of fun she’s clearly adored by Friel’s young narrator, and her sad fate (and that of all her sisters) makes the tragedy that unfolds so unforgettable.
Did it help that Girardi has Irish background herself?
“Of course! My mother is Irish and I have a huge extended clan that live on Staten Island, the Murphys. I’ve been to Ireland too and of course I fell in love with it.
That’s the kind of experience that makes the role come to life for me,” she says.
Dancing at Lughnasa plays at the Schoolhouse Theater in Croton Falls until October 8. For tickets call 914-277-8477.
Jackie Kennedy’s granddaughter has uncannily similar looks