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For the week of February 20 - 26, 2002


And did you hear ‘The Dead’ is opening?

Express Staff Writer

The luck of the Irish appears on the boards in Hailey this weekend for a two-week run in the guise of "James Joyce’s The Dead," produced by the Company of Fools. The play is presented at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey.

Courtesy photo by Kirsten Schultz

Joyce wrote "The Dubliners," from which this story was taken, while living in Italy in 1914. Joyce was homesick and felt disconnected. He yearned for the hospitality of the Irish and the warmth of his home when he penned "The Dubliners," and it shows in the bittersweet sensibility of "The Dead."

Adding to its very Irish feel, the play is a musical, about hearth, home, family, love and secrets.

Written by Richard Nelson, with music by Shaun Davey and set in Dublin a century ago, three generations of family and friends come together for the Misses Morkans' annual Christmas-time party. Given the musical proclivities of the hostesses and the style of home entertaining popular at the time, an evening of music and dance is inevitable. It’s the relationship between their nephew Gabriel, as played by Joel Vilinsky, and his wife, Gretta, played by Denise Simone, that informs the story.

An awkward brooding man, of quiet and solicitous affection, Gabriel thinks perhaps too much. At one point he says, "There are always in gatherings such as this sadder thoughts that will recur to our minds: thoughts of the past, of youth, of changes, of absent faces that we miss here tonight. Our path through life is strewn with many such sad memories: and were we to brood upon them always we could not find the heart to go on bravely with our work among the living. We have all of us living duties and living affections which claim, and rightly claim, our strenuous endeavors."

Not exactly jolly, but a sentiment many folks might feel during the annual family reunion. Thanks to the music and inherent love, the play builds to its complex climax, allowing the audience time to meander in the characters’ lives and become acquainted with them.

Directed by Rusty Wilson, reality is not suspended while the songs are sung, as is typical of most musicals. Instead, all of the music seems incidental, performed as a part of the family’s traditional holiday gathering, and carries the story along as it progresses.

Others in the cast are Claudia McCain and Marilyn Tietge as the maiden aunts, Amy Clifford, Mike Craig, Danielle Kennedy, Laine Satterfield, John Glenn, Renee Knappenberger, Alexander Stabler, and Rumer Willis.

R.L. Rowsey is the musical director and the choreography is by Laine Satterfield, who began researching Irish dancing last summer when Wilson first mentioned the play to her.

Satterfield, a visiting actor and dancer from Virginia, worked with Wilson there many years ago, and now lives and works in both Italy and New York City.

Wood River Theatre Academy students, Mac Harbaugh, Sharon Barto, Jon Dykstra and David Haisley, work behind the scenes as assistant stage managers.

The set was designed by Dennis Rexroad, and the lighting by Genny Wynn, both of whom worked on several shows for Company of Fools previously. The period costumes were designed by Ann Hoste, who’s on a sabbatical from Boise State University’s Theatre Department. Also from BSU is dialect coach Ann Klautsch and dramaturgist Helen Lojek. "It’s a big support team on the whole production," Wilson said.

The music itself is a huge departure for Company of Fools, since they’ve never produced a pure musical before. Some of the music is based on old Irish tunes, while some is adapted from Joyce’s poetry. There is even one Italian aria, sung by John Glenn, "Who has the voice of an angel," said cast mate Denise Simone.

"It was an opportunity to stretch and give us ways to challenge ourselves, hopefully not in a way that hurts," laughed Wilson. "It’s a celebration of life," but not one that can be summed up easily or ends tied up in a pretty package.

Playing with Rowsey in the small orchestra, sequestered backstage, is Dede Morris and Connor Wade alternating on cello, Michelle Witt on violin, and Karen Vance alternating nights with Holly Bailey on flute.

Authenticity has been crucial. The women have been rehearsing in the corsets they must wear as part of their costumes on stage, and wigs have been hand made.

The Company of Fools continues to challenge not just themselves but the audience as well, continually raising the bar and introducing new fare for our enjoyment.

A Pay-What-You-Can show is Feb. 21, with tickets available at the door at 7 p.m., one hour before curtain. On Friday, Feb. 22, the official opening will be followed by a party at the Red Elephant with the Boulder Brothers playing Irish and Celtic tunes, Irish pub food and drinks. Tickets for that performance are $40. Otherwise, tickets for evening shows are $20, and $15 for Sunday matinees. The show runs from Feb. 20 through March 10.

And did you go to see the show, Each rose and pink a dilly, O!


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.