It is with great excitement that the Irish Heritage Theatre announces our Spring 2019 production Da by Hugh Leonard. After a highly successful and critically acclaimed “Women of Ireland” season last year featuring By the Bog of Cats (several critics’ awards including third place overall in Best Actor (Female) category and our first Barrymore WINNING production- Best Supporting Performer in a Play for our own Tina Brock). Our first show of the season, Lay Me Down Softly brought us our second Barrymore recommendation, and was our best attended show to date. When we think of this season, we think of the concept of Fatherhood, and what it means within the Irish culture, and there is perhaps no better play to showcase what it means to be an Irish Dad than Da.
This Irish classic, Da, by Hugh Leonard, won the 1978 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play, the 1978 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play, and the 1978 Tony Award for Best Play. Hugh Leonard was in fact the first Irish Playwright to win the Tony Award for Best Play.
With this show, we will celebrate our co-founder, our Da, John Cannon, who will play the patriarch of the Tynan Family. John is 81 years young and has been on the boards for over 63 years. His very first part was in Finian’s Rainbow, another famous Irish tale, at West Catholic High School when he was just 17 years old. IHT would not be here if it weren’t for him, and his much lauded performances over the years, as well as his other monumental job of Executive Producer of IHT, have made us proud for years. We love the hell out of this guy, and we know you will too.
Our mission is simple. Irish Heritage Theatre is Philadelphia’s only professional company dedicated to preserving and acquainting new audiences with the poetry and power of classical and contemporary Irish and Irish American theatre. The IHT has been called bold and risk-taking. Given our size, we are always challenging ourselves to produce the best possible theatre we can on a small budget. We are also happy to return to the Plays and Players, who will co-produce the show. And we are thrilled to announce that we will be on the Mainstage once again. Plays and Players is our home, and we are fortunate to have a home, considering how so many theatre companies do not.
The Irish Heritage Theatre is taking returning to its more traditional roots with this play, making it our fourth Barrymore eligible production. The play is quintessentially Irish, with its emphasis on lyrical language, beautiful storytelling, colorful and very flawed characters, dark humor, and of course, deep pathos. It does not shy away from the ugliness of Irish history or life, though it still establishes complex relationships and themes.
In Da, we meet Charlie, an expatriate writer who has been living in London for many years returns to his childhood home, Dalkey, Dublin County, after his father’s funeral. His father’s ghost appears and Charlie must confront his relationships with the two father figures in his life: “Da”, his adoptive father, and Drumm, a cynical civil servant who becomes his mentor. This Tony Award winning comedy examines the complexities of fatherhood, family, and the ties that bind. Da has been hailed as “a beguiling play about a son’s need to come to terms with his father and himself….in a class with the best of O’Casey”.
This Barrymore eligible production will be directed by Peggy Mecham, and featuring an original score by Jack Zaferes, lighting design by Andrew Cowles, dialect coaching by Michael Toner, stage management by newcomer Megan Coyle, costuming by Kassy Bradford, and set design by Siobhan Merk and Ian McCrane, along with a full crew and administrative team comprised mainly of a diverse group of Community College of Philadelphia students and alumni (including Kassy and Meg as well as Carlos Forbes, David Kuong, and Barbaluz Orlanda). These students and former students are super talented, and are all paid members of the company.
The show will run March 7th-23rd, and yes, St. Patrick’s Day will fall right in the middle of the run! Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm. Tickets are $25 for general admission; $20 for seniors; and $15 for students, theatre industry members, and groups of ten or more. Also check for us on Funsavers for certain performances. For production information and to purchase tickets go to: www.irishheritagetheatre.org, our Brown Paper Ticket link, https://m.bpt.me/event/3900959.