“Dancing at Lughnasa,” showing at John Carroll University in Kulas Auditorium until March 29, is a play audiences will enjoy.
The play, by Brian Friel, is directed by Nathan Motta, the fifth artistic director at Dobama Theatre. There, he has directed acclaimed productions including “The Lyons” and “Time Stands Still.” Motta is a professional director who has worked with Cleveland Play House, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Music from the Eastman School of Music.
The play is narrated by Michael, who flashbacks to his childhood, taking the audience through his memories of his family. The play, set in the summer of 1936, features the five Mundy sisters who live together and care for one another in Ireland. Their brother, Father Jack, who served during World War I in Uganda, returns home after 25 years with malaria, speaking little English and unable to remember his sisters’ names.
The set’s scenic design, paired with student acting, made the show seem professional. The costumes reflected the poor conditions of the family who lived back then in Ireland. The lighting effects were perfectly executed along with the mood swings between characters, particularly Kate and Michael. When combined, all visual elements were harmonious.
Freshman Dylan Regan plays Michael in his second JCU theater production. Regan succeeds in reliving the character’s memories, allowing the audience to live them rather than simply see them. His reactions, while recalling his childhood, help the audience connect with his emotions throughout the scenes.
Senior Stephanie Haas, who plays Maggie, one of the sisters, masters the stage, using the space to her advantage in a way that makes you feel that no one could fit this role better than her.
Sophomore Rin Hayes, who plays another sister, Chris, proved her professional acting talent through facial expressions and eye contact that engage the audience in understanding her character’s feelings.
Sophomore Daniel May, playing Father Jack, added a humorous essence to the show, committing to his role with broken English and entertaining reactions toward his sisters. May succeeded in amusing the audience.
Playing Rose, freshman Katie Neary portrayed a fun and life-loving sister and performed impressive dancing.
Junior Nico Zahniser, who plays Gerry, Chris’s love interest and Michael’s father, adds a refreshing aspect to the play with his unique Irish accent. Zahniser successfully delivered the portrayal of a playful man who wants to dance with every sister, yet still longs to be with Chris.
Freshman Arianna Zrzavy, who plays Agnes, adds a soothing essence to the show, with simple acting, making her a natural.
Playing Kate, sophomore Veronica Zielinski stood out among the other sisters. Zielinski brought refreshing anger and anxiety to her character, in contrast to the opposing personalities of the other four sisters. Her forceful demeanor added a spark to the show.
Overall, the cast and crew of “Dancing at Lughnasa” performed an entertaining play for the spring season.
“Dancing at Lughnasa” will be performed in Kulas Auditorium on Friday March 27 and Saturday March 28 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday March 29 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door and $7 with reservations. To make a reservation, call (216) 397-4428.