15 Actors Remember the Most Impactful Moments at Irish Rep

Interview   15 Actors Remember the Most Impactful Moments at Irish Rep
 
With visits from Katharine Hepburn to hilarious onstage gags, these are the moments in Irish Rep’s 30-year history the company will never forget.
Irish Repertory Theatre_30 Years of Memories_Graphic_HR

Off-Broadway’s Irish Repertory Theatre celebrates its 30th anniversary this season with The O’Casey Cycle, three plays by Seán O’Casey playing in rep through May 25.

The theatre got its start thanks to the success of its first production, O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars, in 1988. That same year O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock hit it big on Broadway and audiences clamored for more of his work. Over the past three decades, Irish Rep (led by Founders and Co-Artistic Directors Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly) has dedicated itself to the production of theatre exclusively by Irish playwrights.

READ: How Irish Rep Became One of Off-Broadway’s Most Successful Companies

The actors who have performed in Irish Rep’s plays have become dedicated to the company, often referring to it as a family. Here, 15 actors who have frequented the boards at Irish Rep (and who return for The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock, and The Plough and the Stars in The O’Casey Cycle) recall their best memories.

Terry Donnelly
Terry Donnelly

Terry Donnelly
Shadow of a Gunman: Mrs. Grigson
Juno and the Paycock: Maisie Madigan
Plough and the Stars: The Woman from Rathmines

“This is truly the best of times at the Irish Rep. Such richness for an actor. Being cast in these roles and getting to say Sean O’Casey's lines is just a gift to me. I'm privileged indeed ...I get to say lines that are hilarious, sad, poignant, speeches that rip your heart out by turn and then back again to hilarious and great laughter. Not only all of this feast but as we move from scene to scene we can hear incredible speeches and music from the Studio Theatre where the rest of the full canon of O'Casey plays are being staged. It's staggering. I hold this experience close to my grateful heart ...it's incomparable. Thank you, Mr. O' Casey.”

John Keating
John Keating

John Keating
Shadow of a Gunman: Mr. Grigson
Juno and the Paycock: Joxer Daly
Plough and the Stars: Captain Brennan

“I’ve been so lucky to perform in 18 shows over the years, but one [memory] does stand out: Waiting backstage right before Act 1 of A Life by Hugh Leonard in 2001, Pauline Flanagan, Deirdru Ring, and I would wait to come out in darkness for the opening scene. Pauline, who passed away in 2003, was over 70 by this time and, about 30 seconds before we would go out, a piece of jaunty traditional music would start on the sound system. She would start to dance and continue to dance until entering, clapping her hands and spinning around, and then would get both of us to join in a bit. Such an inspiring person, and so much fun, I can still vividly see her there laughing and having the craic.”

Ed Malone.jpg
Ed Malone

Ed Malone
Shadow of a Gunman: Tommy Owens
Juno and the Paycock: Johnny Boyle
Plough and the Stars: Lieutenant Langan

“My favorite Irish Rep memory is stepping into the role of Brendan the barman in the Rep’s awesome production of The Weir. It was my first job at the Rep, and I had great craic pulling pints for such an amazing cast! “

Adam Petherbridge
Adam Petherbridge

Adam Petherbridge
Plough and the Stars: Jack Clitheroe

“Favorite memory would have to be my first show at Irish Rep, Da in 2015. We were working out of DR2 while the 22nd Street theatre was being renovated, and there was no real green room, so we all just kind of hung out in various dressing rooms and in the hallways—always with tea and biscuits, of course. I was so new to the experience and had never worked Off-Broadway before, but I couldn't have asked for a better introduction, because everyone is family at Irish Rep, and we all got to know each other so well in that cozy little basement!”

Una Clancy
Una Clancy

Úna Clancy
Shadow of a Gunman: Mrs. Henderson
Juno and the Paycock: Mrs. Tancred
Plough and the Stars: Mrs. Grogan

“My favorite memory of the Irish Rep is watching Meg Hennessy and James Russel put Donal Davoren and Minnie Powell on their feet in our first rehearsal of Shadow of a Gunman. The sweet, young awkwardness between them filled the room. ‘This is the magic right here,’ I thought.”

Rory Duffy
Rory Duffy

Rory Duffy
Shadow of a Gunman: Mr. Maguire
Juno and the Paycock: Ensemble
Plough and the Stars: Ensemble

“My favorite memory of Irish Rep are the performances when my father—who was a fireman in New York City for over 20 years—brings the whole fire house to the Irish Rep to see the shows I'm lucky enough to be in.”

Meg Hennessy
Meg Hennessy

Meg Hennessy
Shadow of a Gunman: Minnie Powell
Juno and the Paycock: Ensemble
Plough and the Stars: Mollser

“From being offered my first Off-Broadway job to having my photo posted in The New York Times, I honestly cannot pinpoint a single memory that stands out among the rest. I find that each day working for the Rep is better than the last. The atmosphere in the theatre is that of teamwork and serendipity and Charlotte and Ciarán have cultivated it so beautifully and with great care. I really feel as though I am a part of a very skilled, creative and welcoming family and am exceedingly grateful to be working with them.”

Robert Langdon Lloyd
Robert Langdon Lloyd

Robert Langdon Lloyd
Shadow of a Gunman: Mr. Gallagher
Juno and the Paycock: Needle Nugent
Plough and the Stars: Peter Flynn

"So many memories of joy, intelligence, and generosity. One from The Home Place that still makes me laugh out loud was being asked by Charlotte to hurl the contents of a cup of tea, out of exuberance, unaware that [my character] had done it, at two very upright gentlemen—marvelously played by Christopher Randolph and Stephen Pilkington—and then to not notice their expressions of surprise and, depending on the luck of the night, without seeing tea dripping down Stephen’s face or soaking into one of Christopher's trouser legs. It took all my discipline not to crack up into hysterical smithereens. Thank you, Charlotte."

Michael Mellamphy
Michael Mellamphy

Michael Mellamphy
Shadow of a Gunman: Seumas Shields
Juno and the Paycock: Ensemble
Plough and the Stars: Fluther Good

“My favorite memory working at the Irish Rep was performing for my grandmother, Elizabeth Whelan, who recently passed away. She came to a performance of The Field in 2006.”

James Russell
James Russell

James Russell
Shadow of a Gunman: Donal Davoren
Juno and the Paycock: Charles Bentham
Plough and the Stars: The Young Covey

“My favorite memory with the Irish Rep is actually my first memory of the Irish Rep. I was asking as many people as I knew to see if they had any connections to get me an audition for The Freedom of the City by Brian Friel back in 2012 and, unfortunately, I had no luck in getting an audition slot, but Deborah Brown, the casting director, was kind enough to have me be the reader at the audition. After doing the first week of auditions as the reader, I asked Debrorah if I could audition at the callbacks and she agreed. After the callback I booked my first lead, performed in my first Off-Broadway show, earned my Equity card, but—more than anything—I was welcomed into the Irish Rep from that point onwards. It has truly been the most fulfilling theatrical relationship I’ve ever had and they have come to be my second family in New York City.”

Harry Smith
Harry Smith

Harry Smith
Shadow of a Gunman: Mr. Milligan/Auxiliary
Juno and the Paycock: Jerry Devine
Plough and the Stars: Bartender/Sergeant Tinley

“This is my first show at the Irish Rep so my memories are all pretty recent, but every time I have been in to audition for Ciarán and Charlotte they have always made me feel so welcome that it feels like home already! And now that we're rehearsing the second play in the trilogy while performing the first, it really is becoming a home away from home, and there's a real sense of family amongst the cast, crew, and staff.”

Maryann Plunkett
Maryann Plunkett

Maryann Plunkett
Juno and the Paycock: Juno
Plough and the Stars: Bessie Burgess

“This is my first Irish Rep show, though I have loved performing in a few fundraisers in the past. So, my memories are really as an enchanted audience member. I will call out one production: I remember seeing Frances Sternhagen and Brian Murray in Long Day’s Journey Into Night and being pulled into the depths of that home and family. I remember thinking that the set went as far back as a bowling alley, and it seemed as though Mary would disappear as she wandered through her days. It haunted me. And now, I am fortunate to actually be part of this great company!”


Clare O'Malley
Clare O'Malley

Clare O’Malley
Plough and the Stars: Nora Clitheroe

“One of my favorite memories is... Singing at the top of our lungs around a grand piano after the opening night of The Dead,1904 with Ciarán and Charlotte. I had just moved to NYC, and there I was joyously belting out Irish Trad songs and the entire American Musical Theatre canon. I knew I had found my people!”

Ciarán O'Reilly
Ciarán O'Reilly

Ciarán O’Reilly
Juno and the Paycock: Captain Boyle

“One of my favorite memories was in the early days of Irish Rep. Frank McCourt (before he became a writer) was acting in the Brian Friel play Philadelphia Here I Come! Katharine Hepburn came to see it and visited us backstage. Frank stood up and said: ‘This is some kind of magic.’”

Sarah Street
Sarah Street

Sarah Street
Juno and the Paycock: Mary Boyle
Plough and the Stars: Rosie Redmond

“It's hard to recall just one favorite memory, but I'll always remember the first time I worked at The Rep when another veteran Irish Rep actor took me on a tour of backstage. I was so excited to work at a theatre whose work I admired so much, then I saw the box of Barry’s tea in the green room and knew I was in the right place.”


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