Actor Mikel Murphy, who Walsh is collaborating with again in his current production in Brooklyn, is a performer who understands every aspect of his craft and can channel it as the need arises.
As Patsy in “The New Electric Ballroom” Murphy plays a down at heel suitor, and his vocal work (he becomes a latter day Elvis Presley), his performance work (he’s all manic energy throughout the play) and the unexpected sweetness that lies just beneath the surface of his gruff fishmonger character are all present from his first appearance onstage.
“I have always said that I will never work with the same person twice because I hate the notion of repeating myself. But really I have never found an actor that I wanted to return to and was fascinated by,” Walsh says.
“I’m no director and he really helped me out because I’m very unclear about things in a rehearsal room. He really gives me confidence. He approaches plays from a really logical place, but then he goes wild and takes real risks.
“The speed and the sensitivity of him amaze me. He’s mad looking, as a leading man for me he’s probably it. He’ll direct my next play, Penelope, next year.”
As Breda in “New Electric Ballroom,” the once beautiful 18-year-old girl who seems dammed to relive her one and only losing shot at finding true love, Rosaleen Linehan gives a remarkably controlled and subtle performance. This role is a major step away from the great leading ladies that Linehan excels in, and it’s a mark of her own artistry that she has the courage to tackle what in other hands could easily become a farcical role.
Says Walsh, “Linehan’s the most dangerous actor I’ve ever worked with. She’s really brave and a brilliant reader of theater, but then she’ll cut loose and playing to audience and paying them really well.
“Ruth McCabe is brilliant; to hear your lines being spoken by an actress like her is amazing. And I wrote the play for actress Catherine Walsh because I think she’s the most interesting actor of her generation.”
“The New Electric Ballroom” is playing at St. Ann’s Warehouse, 38 Water Street, at Dock Street, Dumbo. Call 718-254-8779, or visit stannswarehouse.org. Show runs until November 22.