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April 9, 2003

Department of Theatre presents Dancing at Lughnasa

The UMBC Department of Theatre presents Brian Friel's Tony Award winning play Dancing at Lughnasa from April 24 to May 4 in the UMBC Theatre. Friel's tale of being raised by five sisters in Ireland in 1936 was developed first by the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, then moved to London for an extended run on the West End and after that to Broadway where it won the Outer Circle Critics Award, the Drama Desk Award, and the Tony Award in 1991 for Best Play.

Dancing at Lughnasa is a memory play, the events of a certain summer when Michael, the illegitimate son of an extended family, was seven. Michael leads us through this bittersweet time, both commenting on the action and reliving scenes with his mother and her sisters. New York critics commented on its tie to Tennessee Williams' Glass Menagerie, another memory play where the son leads us through the events, but felt it was "a unique and wondrous experience" in its own right. Director Christopher Owens feels "The essential and uplifting experience of the play is its celebration of things ending. Lughnasa is the harvest festival, the time when all the crops are in, summer is done with its warmth and blooms, and we're about to feel the chill of winter. The son is also ending his innocence about a number of things and his family is about to break up but what Friel (and the son) asks us to do is to celebrate this ending--to sing, to dance, to dream even though we know the reality is changing. It's a very Irish way of thinking as well, the wake being a good example, where we find great joy at the completion of the journey."

UMBC's production features Guest Artist Michael Gabel, a professional actor from Washington, D.C. in the role of Father Jack, the eldest brother of this family who has just returned to Ireland from an extended mission in East Africa. Mr. Gabel's work has been seen at the Kennedy Center (where he was in the original cast of the long-running Sheer Madness), as well as at Ford's Theatre, The Folger Theatre Group, Shakespeare Theatre, Olney Theatre, and Roundhouse Theatre. Mr. Gabel teaches for the Screen Actors Guild Conservatory and will be guest lecturing on Film Acting during his time at UMBC. Michael Gabel appears courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.

The production is directed by Christopher Owens, whose previous productions for UMBC have included Blue Window and Baby With The Bathwater. It includes scenic and costume design by Elena Zlotescu, lighting and sound design by Terry Cobb, and vocal coaching by Lynn Watson. Irish Step Dance choreography is by New York choreographer Dawn Lester, who has done two other productions of the play. "It is exciting for our students to have the opportunity to work with a couple of very talented guest artists." Owens commented. "I'd seen Michael Gabel's work in a few shows in D.C. some years ago and was very happy he was available and interested when we got ready to have auditions here for Father Jack at the end of January. I've worked with Dawn on two other professional productions and know that she'll bring a lot to the dance that's at the heart of this play." Owens concluded.

Dancing at Lughnasa is recommended for the entire family.

Thursday, April 24th at 8 pm (preview)
Friday, April 25th at 8 pm (opening night)
Sunday, April 27th at 4 pm
Thursday, May 1st at 4 pm
Friday, May 2nd at 8 pm
Saturday, May 3rd at 8 pm
Sunday, May 4th at 4 pm
Note: on Saturday, April 26th, the theatre will be dark.

$10 general admission
$8 UMBC faculty and staff
$5 students
$3 for the preview
The performance on May 1st is free to the UMBC campus community.
Ticket proceeds benefit the Department of Theatre Scholarship Fund.
Theatre Box Office: 410-455-2476

Theatre Box Office: 410-455-2476
Public information: (24 hour recorded message): 410-455-ARTS
General Department of Theatre information: 410-455-2917
Media inquiries only: 410-455-3370

UMBC Arts website:
UMBC News Releases:
Department of Theatre website:

From Baltimore and points north, proceed south on I-95 to exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Theatre.

From I-695, take Exit 12C (Wilkens Avenue) and continue one-half mile to the entrance of UMBC at the roundabout intersection of Wilkens Avenue and Hilltop Road. Turn left and follow signs to the Theatre.

From Washington and points south, proceed north on I-95 to Exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Theatre.

Visitor parking regulations are enforced on all University calendar days. Hilltop Circle and all campus roadways require a parking permit unless otherwise marked. Online campus map:

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Posted by dwinds1 at April 9, 2003 12:00 AM