March 2- 8, 2006
Aaron Posner, co-founder of the Arden Theatre, now works throughout the country. He just got a rave Washington Post review for his production of Measure for Measure at D.C.'s Folger Shakespeare Theatre. "So I know actors everywhere," he says, "but when I got this assignment I knew Philadelphians who were perfect for it."
Brian Friel's 1990 play, Dancing at Lughnasa, is about sisters in rural Ireland in 1936, and Posner has cast women with whom he's worked many times: Suzanne O'Donnell, Grace Gonglewski, Jennifer Childs and Megan Bellwoar (pictured, L-R, with fellow Lughnasa sister Mary McCool). They all have young children and haven't worked together in several years.
Gonglewski, for example, married choreographer Eric Schoefer and they have a 2 1/2-year-old daughter. "I have to pick and choose," she says. "I'm more careful about my projects. No more appearing in nine roles in one season." Gonglewski is one of Philadelphia's busiest television voices, heard currently for SEPTA, Temple University, the New Jersey Lottery and Stainmaster among others, but she hasn't appeared at the Arden since the baby.
Megan Bellwoar, too, has been busy; she and husband, playwright Michael Hollinger, have two children. Jen Childs cares for a toddler while running 1812 Productions. Suzanne O'Donnell played numerous lead roles at the Arden in the 1990s before moving to Florida, where her husband is artistic director at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival. The fifth sister is played by Mary McCool, who is relatively new to the Arden family but has impressive credentials with the New Paradise Laboratories theater company.
"All these women are actors with strong points of view," says Posner, "and they let me know when my ideas don't suit their characters. I learn from them. This is a collaborative production, cast with people who have the souls and the experience to play these parts."
Dancing at Lughnasa, Thu.-Sat., March 2-4, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 5, 2 p.m.; Tue., March 7, 7 p.m; Wed., March 8, 6:30 p.m., through April 2, $27-$45 ($10 for students on March 2), Arden Theatre Co., 40 N. Second St., 215-922-1122, www.ardentheatre.org.