‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ caps Heartwood Theater's 21st season

Wed, 06/12/2024 - 12:45pm

Story Location:
81 Academy Hill Road
Newcastle, ME 04553
United States

    Brian Friel’s award winning play “Dancing at Lughnasa” (pronounced Loo'-nasa), will cap off Heartwood Theater’s 21st season, later this month.  Time Magazine dubbed this poignant piece “the most elegant and rueful memory play since “The Glass Menagerie.”

    This extraordinary play is the story of five unmarried sisters eking out their lives in a small village in Ireland, in 1936. Their spare existence is interrupted by brief, colorful bursts of music from the radio, their only link to the romance and hope of the world at large. The action of the play is told through the memory of the illegitimate son of one sister, as he remembers the five women who raised him: his mother and four maiden aunts.

    He is only seven in 1936, the year his elderly uncle, a priest, returns after serving for twenty-five years as a missionary in a Ugandan leper colony. For the young boy, two other disturbances occur, that summer. The sisters acquire their first radio, whose music transforms them from proper Catholic women, to shrieking and stomping in the kitchen. And he meets his father for the first time, a charming Welsh drifter who strolls up the lane and sweeps his mother away in an elegant dance across the fields. From these events, spring the cracks that destroy the family foundation, forever. Widely regarded as Brian Friel's masterpiece, this haunting play is Friel's tribute to the spirit and valor of the past.

    Under the direction of Griff Braley, the cast of eight is supported by Annalise Garnett and Ryan Kohnert (tech crew).  Swirling about the stage as only five lively sisters can do, are a tightly-knit group of local actresses: Nanette Fraser, Teralyn Reiter, Abigail White, May Halm, and Emily Sue Barker.  Returning to the show in which they performed together at LA 18 years ago (also directed by Braley) are longtime friends Joe Lugosch and Morgan Shattuck. Tim Cunningham portrays the uncle/priest. 

    The Poe Theater provides an intimate environment in which this memory play knits together audiences and actors, creating a beautiful piece which transcends space and time.  Not to be missed.

    One matinee performance and five evening performances are scheduled in the Poe Theater on the Lincoln Academy Campus: June 20 & 21, 27-29 at 7:30 p.m., with a Saturday matinee on June 22 at 3 p.m. 

    Tickets are $5/students through college and $30/all adults.  Reservations strongly recommended by emailing info@heartwoodtheater.org or phoning Heartwood at 563-1373.

    Heartwood’s 21st season is sponsored by Bath Savings Institution and Chesterfield Associates, Inc.  Student tickets are kept to a mere $5, through the sponsorship of Peapod Jewelry and First National Wealth Management.  “Dancing at Lughnasa” is presented with special permission of Dramatists Play Service, Inc.