Guiness and Ghosts at SCR

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James Lancaster, Tony Ward and Kirsten Potter in “The Weir” at South Coast Repertory. Photo by Henry DiRocco/SCR.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, an atmospheric drama that finds four hard-drinking Irishmen telling ghost stories in a pub one stormy night will open at South Coast Repertory this weekend, to run through April 3.

The play, written by Irish playwright Conor McPherson, was proclaimed as “exceptional the most exciting evening in theatrical London!” by The Guardian when it debuted in 1997, and it won similar raves on Broadway.

It will be directed at SCR by Warner Shook.

“Water surrounding a weir may look relatively calm, but dangerous whirlpools lurk beneath,” explained Shook. “You’re caught between calm waters and devastating waters – the known and the unknown – much like the characters in the play. Are the stories they tell real or make-believe? Are they in a natural world or a supernatural one?”

Playing the tale-telling Irishmen will be SCR founding artist Richard Doyle and a trio of actors who also are no strangers to the South Coast Repertory stage: James Lancaster, Daniel Reichert and Tony Ward. Joining them as Valerie, the mysterious woman with a spellbinding, heartbreaking tale of her own, is Kirsten Potter, last seen at SCR as the flamboyant Polish adventuress in “Misalliance.”

Doyle is very well know and appreciated by regular and even occasional SCR audience members, as he has been with the theater group since its founding and has appeared in more than 200 productions with the troupe, most recently this season’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Misalliance.” A veteran of film and TV as well as the stage, his longest-running role is one that doesn’t take this time away from other projects: He is the holographic host at the Union Theater at the Lincoln Library in Springfield, IL.

Doyle is a recipient of The Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award and will be the 2011 Pageant of the Masters live narrator.

Lancaster is Irish by birth and began his acting career as a member of The Abbey Theatre in Dublin and of the Irish Theatre Company. Since moving to the US, he has performed in the New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park and at several regional theaters on the East and West coasts, along with a turn in “A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. He has had many film and TV roles.

At SCR, he has previously appeared in “Dancing At Lughnasa” and “The Caretaker.”

Reichert first appeared at SCR in “Arms and the Man.” He is a veteran of several Western stages, including the American Conservatory Theatre, where he earned his MFA. He, too, has had numerous roles before film and TV cameras.

Ward has a slew of Broadway and off-Broadway credits in New York, as well as film and TV roles and regional theater credits on both coasts, including SCR’s production of “Terra Nova.”

Potter is well know to audiences in LA and Orange County, having performed in multiple productions each at the Geffen Playhouse, Matrix Theatre and Laguna Playhouse, plus others. Her Hollywood experience include not only film and TV, but also voice work in video games, cartoons and audio books.

Marshalling these talents is director Shook, who has helmed more than a half-dozen SCR productions. As artistic director at the Intiman Theater, he directed numerous productions, notably Intiman’s world premiere of “The Kentucky Cycle,” plus its subsequent productions at the Mark Taper Forum, the Kennedy Center and on Broadway, where it won the Pulitzer Prize and was nominated for the Tony Award.

Post-show discussions with the cast of “The Weir” and SCR’s literary team will be featured after the March 22 and March 23 performances.

Previews are Sunday, March 13, at 2 p.m., and Tuesday through Thursday, March 15-17, at 7:45 p.m. Regular performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 7:45 p.m., with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m., through April 3.

Ticket prices range from $20 to $66. Low-priced preview performances are available Mar. 13 – 17. Tickets can be purchased online at www.scr.org, by phone at (714) 708-5555, or by visiting the theater box office.

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