The Vintage Players marks its 20th anniversary with three performances of Brian Friel’s award-winning play, Dancing at Lughnasa, on April 25, 26, and 27 at the Green Street Arts Center in Middletown. This hauntingly beautiful memory play is a semi-autobiographical reminiscence of the impact of change on the lives of five sisters and their family in a rural Irish community during the summer of 1936.
Jane McMillan founded the Vintage Players in 1993 specifically to present Dancing at Lughnasa. She saw the original production at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1991 and came home determined to stage it in Middletown. Little by little over two years the play took shape, and the Vintage Players presented a staged reading of Dancing at Lughnasa in April 1994. In the early years the organization was greatly strengthened by the help of Richard Kamins and the late Doris Hallie, and although actors have come and gone, the core group has stayed together. John Hall and Lynne Fiducia from the original production are part of this 20th anniversary show.
Over the years the Vintage Players has staged 18 plays, including Wit, The Dead, The Curious Savage, The Torchbearers, Juno and the Paycock, Driving Miss Daisy, and Chasing Manet. With the addition to the company of actor/director Carolyn Kirsch in 2005, the group has moved from “script in hand” presentations with little sets or props to more professional productions.
Dancing at Lughnasa is set in Ireland’s Donegal County in the fictional town of Ballybeg. Brian Friel has infused his writing with reflective memories of his mother and her sisters. As seen through the eyes of a 7 year old, now grown, a narrator embraces the poetry and humor of this master playwright, and we are able to join the family as these indomitable women struggle with social mores, the Catholic Church, and the coming industrialization of cottage industry.
Under the direction of Vintage Players founder Jane McMillan, the 20th-anniversary cast includes John Hall, Linda Kaskel, Carolyn Kirsch, Pat Farrell, Lynne Fiducia, Terri Klein, Nat Holmes and Gerry Matthews. Music is by Ceol go Maidin. Assisting the production are Cookie and Eggie Quinones, Peggy Welsh, Marian Katz, Susan Hall, Ellie Howard, and Cora Rodenheizer. Tate Burmeister is the Technical Director.
Performances are Friday, April 25 at 7 pm; Saturday, April 26 at 7 pm; and Sunday, April 27 at 3 pm. All performances are at the Green Street Arts Center, 51 Green Street, Middletown. RESERVATIONS ARE NECESSARY and may be made by calling Claudia Wolf at 860-685-7797. All performances are free, but donations are welcome. All proceeds will benefit the Children’s Programs of Green Street Arts Center and Oddfellows Playhouse.