The Endangered Species Project's May reading will be Juno and the Paycock by Sean O'Casey. The play was last performed professionally in Seattle at the Bathhouse Theatre in 1985, and through the kind auspices of the Seattle Public Theatre, Juno returns to the Bathhouse there via ESP's May 21 reading, tonight.
Sean O'Casey's comic tragedy was a ground-shattering event at Dublin's Abbey Theatre in 1924. The play begins almost as a domestic comedy - a ne'er-do-well Captain Jack Boyle and family suddenly inherit a fortune - but the events of the Irish civil war, along with the human foibles of the family, darken the work as it makes its way to a devastating conclusion. There are marvelous and complex roles for all the actors. The play makes for a richly funny, deeply emotional, and thought-provoking evening, and it remains one of Ireland's most-produced scripts - the Abbey itself again revived it just last year.
The original production featured later Hollywood favorite Barry Fitzgerald as Captain Jack (the strutting "Paycock" of the title). Alfred Hitchcock made a straightforward movie of the play, with O'Casey's blessing, in 1930. Composer-lyricist Marc Blitzstein ("The Cradle Will Rock") transformed it into a Broadway musical in 1959, featuring Shirley Booth and Melvyn Douglas in the lead roles. (It was not a hit, but its score remains highly regarded; "I Wish It So," a beautiful song for young Mary, was recorded by both Rosemary Clooney and Dawn Upshaw.)
The cast features Jeanne Paulsen as Juno and Richard Ziman as Captain Boyle, with Mark Anders, Jared Michael Brown, Clayton Corzatte, Susan Corzatte, Leslie Law, Amy Love, Jason Marr, and Larry Paulsen, all under the direction of Jeff Steitzer.
The reading will take place at 7 p.m. tonight, May 21 at The Seattle Public Theater at The Bathhouse, 7312 W. Greenlake Dr. N., Seattle, WA 98103. Doors open at 6:30.
ESP is a confederation of Seattle theatre artists dedicated to presenting plays that seldom get full productions. www.endangeredspeciesproject.org