How to Be Irish in Philly This Week
Some great events coming up this month, including the exciting Philly debut of “Pumpgirl” a play that comes from Northern Ireland, and a Martin McDonagh classic, “A Skull in Connemara,” all part of a particularly rich season for Irish plays in Philadelphia. You can even save money on tickets if you see two or more of these topnotch productions
The play, “Pumpgirl,” which opens on Tuesday, January 11, at the Adrienne Theatre in Philadelphia, takes place in a post-Troubles world, specifically in a border town rural Northern Ireland. It’s the story of a homely, tomboyish “pump girl” at a gas station who develops an obsession with a handsome, married race car driver. It’s being produced by the Inis Nua Theatre Company, which presents modern plays from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.
“The play really presents a different side of Northern Ireland,” says Inis Nua Artistic Director Tom Reing. “Most works about the north are very Troubles-focused. It’s definitely there in ‘Pumpgirl,’ but the references are all in the past, like ‘it’s that hotel that was bombed in 1994.’ It’s also filled with weird things about Irish country music and stock car racing, which is huge over there and
which most people aren’t going to really be familiar.”
The January 13 performance is a fundraiser for the Irish Immigration and will feature a post-performance discussion with Irish playwright Abbie Spallen, who has been working with Reing during the play’s rehearsals.
“A Skull in Connemara,” one the McDonagh Leenane trilogy, goes on stage in preview at St. Stephen’s Theater at 10th and Ludlow Streets on January 13. The production by the Lantern Theatre Company is directed by M. Craig Getting and Kathryn McMillan, whose most recent show was the critically acclaimed production of “Uncle Vanya.” Official opening night is January 19.
Bonus for Irish theater lovers: These plays are part of the Philadelphia Irish Theatre Festival and Irish Mix Tix. Six local theater companies are presenting works by Irish playwrights now through May and you can save 20 percent off ticket prices if you order tickets to two or more productions at http://www.theatrealliance.org/irish-theatre-mixtix.
Other plays upcoming: Terminus by Mark O’Rowe with the Abbey Theatre of Dublin at the Harold Prince Theater, February 16-20; “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” another of McDonagh’s Leenane plays, at Plays and Players February 17-March 13; Sebastian Barry’s “The Pride of Parnall Street,” at Act II Playhouse in Ambler March 22-April 17; “Dublin by Lamplight,” by Michael West,
at Broad Street Ministries in Philadelphia, another Inis Nua Production; and The Druid Theatre of Galway’s “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” the third Mc Donagh play this season, at the Zellerbach, May 19-May 22.
Now, let’s take a peek into next week:
On Saturday, January 15, three bands will be playing at J.D. McGillicuddy’s in Kirklyn at the first of two fundraisers to bring in bucks to support the Sunday WTMR 800-AM Irish Radio Shows, hosted by Vince Gallagher and Marianne MacDonald, aired every Sunday from 11 AM to 1 PM.
That evening, guitarist and balladeer Pat Egan and all-Ireland piper Michael Cooney will be performing in the cozy living room at Spring Hill House in Lansdale for a house concert. They’re calling their duo “The Boys from Tipperary” because they are both boys from Tipperary. Now that’s clever.
And on Sunday, join AOH/LAOH Div. 87 for their annual beef and beer at Finnigan’s Wake. We’ve partied with this crew and they are fun, fun, fun. And you can hear the new Paul Moore and Friends band, featuring a few folks from the late great Paddy’s Well. Of course, everything the AOH/LAOH does is for charity so you can have fun while patting yourself on the back for doing a good deed.