A funeral, several cups of tea, a dispute about land, a dying parent, a will, a returned Yank, an ageing virgin son and the headstrong woman, that he is secretly in love with, but has never got around to informing of his feelings. Those are the essential elements in John Patrick Shanley’s play Outside Mullingar, which begins a short, one weekend, engagement out at Theatre Burlington next week.
Shanley, is a popular and prolific playwright, and this Irish-American romantic–comedy, is his most recent play. It was originally produced on Broadway in 2014, in a production that starred the actress, Debra Messing of Will and Grace fame. While the play, has had many productions all over Ontario, including Toronto, Kingston, Peterborough and London, this is the first time that this new play, has had a local staging.
Last January, there was a fine local production of dreamer examines his pillow, at the Staircase Theatre, and most people will have seen Shanley’s 1988 Oscar winning film Moonstruck, which was shot in Toronto, directed by the legendary Canadian film director Norman Jewison. His play Doubt, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, a Tony Award for best play, and was also made into a successful film.
The play Outside Mullingar is being presented by Vince Carlin’s Act of Faith Productions, which has produced five projects to date, including the play Tuesdays With Morrie, which went up two years ago.
I had the chance to sit and have an engrossing conversation with director Willard Boudreau, happily recovered after a few health issues this spring, and actor Caroline Saulez, who plays the role of Rosemary Muldoon, in the play.
Oakville native, Saulez is a smart and engaging woman, with a charm and subtle wit to match her stage abilities. She tells me that, “doing this play, was a not to be missed chance to come home again, and to work on a play that I love, with some wonderful old friends.”
As Caroline Saulez has resided in Perth Western Australia, for the past seven years, this is no minor journey she has made, in order to be part of the production. Her elderly parents, still reside in Oakville, so she has made a point of returning for a few months a year, and while back in town,
Vince Carlin, has cast her in three productions, to date. Most recently, in a production of Tina Howe’s marvellous 1983 play Painting Churches, where she got to perform the role of “Mags”, at the Queen Elizabeth Cultural Centre in Oakville.
“I graduated out of the acting program at Ryerson Theatre School in 1998, and got my Equity card by doing bedroom farces at the Red Barn Theatre, the legendary summer stock theatre in Jackson’s Point”.
Red Barn Theatre, founded in 1949, was one of the longest running professional theatre companies in Ontario, that played a huge role in giving actors, like Martha Henry, Jackie Burroughs, and Barbara Hamilton, and directors such as Bill Glassco, and Douglas Beattie, their start. Sadly, after a sixty year run, the company closed after the hundred year old theatre, burned to the ground in 2009.
“It has been a long hiatus for me as an actor, so it is wonderful to get to reconnect with that artistic impulse, and indulge in that need to perform in front of an audience. It is also a wonderful role, in a very well written play, and it allows me to do it in an Irish accent, which adds a certain charm, to the experience.”
Director Willard Boudreau chimes in, with the information that the four member cast, “are all outstanding character actors, who work very well together, and give the play some lovely cadences, with their commitment to the play. I can also say, that it is their wonderful ensemble playing, that makes the play work, finding a nicely nuanced balance between the comedy and drama, that Shanley’s script provides to us”.
The cast of the play also includes, Kathleen Sheehy, one of the founding members of Kitchener’s Lost and Found Theatre, Kitchener actor Richard Marchment, and Act of Faith Artistic Director Vince Carlin.
Caroline Saulez, has never done a stage production in Australia, as of yet. But she did notice an casting call / audition notice, for a production of Ancaster playwright Norm Foster’s Love List in Perth. “I have done that specific Norm Foster play before, here in Canada, so I did a double take, when I saw the posting on the wall.”
Who knows what the future might bring, and what world stages are yet to be conquered by Canadian performers? In the mean time, local audiences can catch Saulez, out at Theatre Burlington, starting next Thursday.
by John Patrick Shanley
Act of Faith Productions
At Theatre Burlington
2311 New Street, Burlington
Tickets: (416) 550-8030
online at aofproductions.ca