As of this writing, two shows into our Cork stay, just four performances remain of the Keegan, 2011 Ireland Tour. Our new Cork cast members, April, Kelly, Jessica and Shannon proved happily up to the task of filling the roles of Mercy, Susanna, Elizabeth and Betty.
Adding new folks to our cast in every town brought with it a special pleasure. The pleasure derived from the fact that more than just another performance for U.S. cast members, the openings in Galway, and Kilkenny lived in the minds of our local cast members as their opening nights. In both towns, flowers arrived in the girls’ dressing rooms, notes showed up in the hands of admirers, friends in the local theatre community dropped by to wish the actors good luck. In both cases I found myself thinking how lucky I am to be performing with these local celebrities.
Our opening in Cork lived up to the model. As curtain approached on Monday night, the proper and nattily attired house manager traveled the back hallways of the Everyman Palace theatre delivering flowers, notes and well wishes. Waiting in the wings for their entrances, the Cork girls’ eyes shone with anticipation and determination.
I’d like to report their performances lived up to the standards set by their Galway and Kilkenny counterparts. So, I will. While bringing their own interpretations of their various characters to the show, April, Jessica, Kelly and Shannon filled the roles seamlessly. Be it Jessica’s ear splitting scream in the first act, or the groups frightening “Birds” sequence in the third, our Cork women delivered and continue to deliver the goods.
Here is something to consider for those who may dismiss the difficulty these young ladies overcame in filling their roles. The U.S. members of the Keegan cast started rehearsing in July for a show that opened in early September. Our Cork and Kilkenny cast members went before live audiences after no more than seven hours of rehearsal with Keegan staff including just 90 minutes of run-through with the full cast. Costume fittings ate into rehearsal time as well.
Our Irish cast members in each town memorized their lines on their own. They did not enjoy the advantage of associating lines to blocking or, cues to vocal rhythms of particular actors. They needed to learn a new accent. In some cases they learned two new accents. Still, our Irish Company members focused on the work, turning in solid performances that elevated the work of the rest of the cast.
I cannot overstate the contributions every one of these young women made to our show and tour. Frankly, from my perspective, they made this tour. The Judges, the Proctors, Coreys, Nurses, Putnams (not pootnahms) Salem townspeople, their sniveling tailor, sorrowful marshal, brainless preacher, his slave, the “bridegroom” from Beverly and the evil “lump of vanity” would be swinging from the theatrical equivalent of the gallows without the chilling performances of our new BFFs from Galway, Kilkenny and Cork.
My enduring thanks,
Tim Lynch (Giles Corey)