“The Cripple of Inishmaan” is a little Irish yarn about a little Irish island and little Billy Claven’s big Irish dream. Centenary Stage Company presents The Cripple of Inishmaan opening February 22nd and running through March 10th in the Sitnik Theatre at the David and Carol Lackland Center. It’s 1934 and the sleepy island of Inishmaan is abuzz with the news that Hollywood has come to County Galway, as a famous director arrives on the neighboring island to film his movie The Man of Aran.
Up until then, “Cripple Billy,” as he’s known on the little island of Inishmaan, has spent most of his days gazing at cows and yearning for a girl who wants no part of him. Billy becomes determined to cross the sea and audition for the Yank but the poverty-stricken, gossip-loving locals take a harder view of his gamble for fame and fortune.
Irish humor is legendary and Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh—author of the screen play for the films In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths—has single handedly taken it to a new contemporary level. McDonagh is considered one of the greatest living Irish playwrights having authored two sets of trilogies, The Leenane and the Aran Islands trilogies, located in and around County Galway in Ireland. Plays like The Beauty Queen of Leenane helped to launch his career making him the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards’ Most Promising Playwright in 1996.
In his relatively short career, he has also been nominated four times for a Tony Award for Best Play. In The Cripple of Inishmaan, McDonagh gives audiences a merciless portrayal of a world comically cramped and relentlessly absurd with eccentric island characters trading stories to within an inch of their lives while a young man tries to make sense of who he is. This production is directed by Artistic Director Carl Wallnau, known for his quick-witted style and recently recognized by the 2012 NJ Footlights Awards for his direction of last season’s hit comedy The Ladies Man.
Playing the role of Cripple Billy is Tom Morin, a 2010 MFA graduate of Ohio University and performing for the first time on the Centenary Stage. This production also features familiar faces to those who frequent CSC. David Edwards and Kathleen Huber, who were both in CSC’s fall production of The Mousetrap, will be switching from English to Irish accents for their portrayals of Johnnypateenmike and Mammy, respectively. Among Mr. Edwards Broadway credits, he also played both Max Bialystock and Roger DeBris in the First National Tour of The Producers. And audiences may recognize Ms. Huber from regionally performing with Paper Mill Playhouse as well as Pennsylvania Shakespeare.
This production is privileged to also include a real-live Irishman, Mark Byrne, born and bred in Dublin playing the role of Babbybobby. Helen, Cripple Billy’s love interest, is Leah Barker. Ms. Barker studied theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and holds a BFA in Drama from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Catherine Rust (Long Valley) is pleased to be back on stage playing Aunt Eileen, and filling the role of Aunt Kate is Carolyn Popp (Jersey City), who has appeared on the Centenary Stage in The Tillie Project and Sister Week. When asked about her role in this production Ms. Popp said, “I’m so looking forward to this show because of the basic sense of community, dignity, and a will to survive – all with a healthy dose of good humor that pervades these stories. These are real people doing their best – I love them.” Also, returning to CSC’s stage, after performing in The Christmas Carol and Oliver, is Dave Scheffler (Easton, PA) playing the Doctor.
The Sitnik Theatre is once again being transformed by Emmy Award-winning set designer Bob Phillips. Mr. Phillips also designed CSC’s productions of The Mousetrap, Light up the Sky, and The Ladies Man. He has designed over 75 sets for Orlando Shakespeare Festival and regularly works with Pennsylvania Shakespeare, Florida Studio Theatre, and many New York and regional theatres. Phillips’ television designs include Come on Over, Another World, Search for Tomorrow, and Sesame Street, where he has designed for 22 seasons.
This celebration of the Celtic arts culminates with Hackettstown’s 5th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade on Sunday, March 10th. Friday March 8, at 6:00 PM will kick things off with the St. Patrick’s Day Grand Marshall Reception, lead this year by Centenary College President Dr. Barbara Lewthwaite. Sunday’s festivities will include Irish music, Centenary College groups, horses, dancers, and hometown favorites the Colonial Musketeers and the Hackettstown Community Band. Visit www.hackettstownbid.com for details on the event.
To purchase tickets for The Cripple of Inishmaan or to find more information on the show, visit www.centenarystageco.org<http://www.centenarystageco.org/> or call the box office at (908) 979-0900. Tickets for The Cripple of Inishmaan range from $17.50 to $27.50 with discounts for students and seniors. Every Thursday night is “Date Night,” which offers a 2-for-1 rush ticket price when purchased at the door. Performance times are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. There are 2 p.m. matinees on Wednesdays February 27th and March 6th and for the Preview Performance on Friday, February 22nd at 2 p.m.
This show has strong language and adult content.