Irish Comedy Coming to Towngate Stage

Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre continues its main stage season with a production of Dion Boucicault’s Irish comedy/melodrama “The Shaughraun,” to be staged March 15, 16, 17, 22 and 23.

The story revolves around a wrongly accused convict, Robert Ffolliott, who has escaped from Australia and sneaked back into Ireland. He must escape various melodramatic cliffhangers from those trying to arrest him. He gets some help and comic relief from his faithful friend Conn — The Shaughraun, a fiddling, poaching vagabond who likes his whiskey and tall tales.

Jon J. Coffield, left, and Wayne McCord

“The Shaughraun” is a delightful theatrical romp with a bit of everything. The action includes a jailbreak, fights, romance, double and triple crosses and a very funny wake. Colorful characters include a dastardly villain, a damsel in distress, a handsome hero and a valiant dog that helps save the day. There’s whirling and leaping and some singing and dancing, too.

Towngate Theatre technical director P.D. Gregg is directing the show and has assembled a talented cast of actors.

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“This is a delightful melodrama brimming with action and laughs,” Gregg said. “Come cheer for the hero, boo the villain and, above all, laugh.”

Cast members include: Pete Fernbaugh, Brendan Sheehan, Walt Warren, Wayne McCord, Jon J. Coffield, Eric T. Dutton, Jim Showalter, Karissa Martin, Bethany Fernbaugh, Dee Gregg, Emily Hores, Kathy Burley, Zachary Thompson, Noah Hilton, Marion Stolz, Arlene Merryman and Bailey (the valiant dog).

Dion Boucicault, a 19th-century Irish actor and playwright, wrote “The Shaughraun.” Boucicault was well known on both sides of the Atlantic and his melodrama “The Colleen Bawn” was one of the most successful plays of the time. He wrote more than 150 plays and was a major influence on the form and content of American drama.

Curtain is at 8 p.m. March 15, 16, 22 and 23. A 3 p.m. matinee takes place Sunday, March 17.

Tickets are $12.50/$11 OI members, and are available online, by calling 304-242-7700 or at the door.

A St. Patrick’s Day celebration takes place March 17 following the matinee performance. The event includes a traditional Irish dinner catered by Ye Olde Alpha, a selection of Irish beer and live music. Cost is $30 per person. Reservations are required for the dinner. Proceeds benefit the Friends of the Towngate, which supports the creative work of the theatre, as well as projects to preserve the historic building.