“A Rose for Danny,” the Queen Anne- and Seattle-based play, is preparing for its second-ever run.
The play features the story of Kevin Moriarty’s grandfather, Jack McCoy, who mysteriously turned up on the front door of his Queen Anne home after the family thought he was dead.
“A Rose for Danny” will play during Irish Heritage Week at Theater4 in the Seattle Center (305 Harrison St.). The play will run March 6 to 9 and March 13 to 16 at 7:30 p.m., and 2 p.m. on Sundays.
Months ago, Moriarty was planning a community fundraiser event. It was successful, raising about $20,000.His friends, who helped organize the fundraiser, continue to be involved, making this play very much a community effort, Moriarty said.
Now, in the weeks leading up to the play, the cast is rehearsing and Moriarty is tying up the loose ends with the set design. He’s been frequenting thrift shops for furniture and props from the ‘50s to give the play an authentic feel.
A realistic, new work
Moriarty is excited about the cast, which he helped select.
Sonia Perez, a professional actor who has performed nationally and internationally, including with Seattle Opera, first saw a notice of the play posted online and decided to audition after having a positive experience doing some other family dramas. In “A Rose for Danny,” she plays Theresa O’Neil, whom she describes as a woman trying to keep it together while the family is falling apart.
“She has this great desire to find a way to have her father and sister and husband make an agreement and find a way to peace in the home, and it’s not really happening,” Perez said.
Moriarty sees himself as a relatively unknown playwright with a relatively unknown play, so he was excited to have a cast of professional actors, like Perez.
“People need to give chances to new work,” Perez said. “How else are we going to have new material?”
Rich Morris Jr. plays Carl O’Neil, Perez’s on-stage husband. Morris, a professional actor from a large Irish Catholic family, revels in playing the emotional, alpha-male character. Along with all of the other family dynamics, the audience will also get a glimpse into discrimination from the time: discrimination against Irish Americans, among differing socio-economic classes and between genders.
“At the same time, it’s seeing how a lot of this stuff in the ‘50s…is still happening,” Morris said.
Ryan Brummitt first acted in the play at Shoreline Community College in 2001. He didn’t even need to audition to reprise his same role for this run. His character, Tony Costello, is one of his favorites to play. He’s fun-loving, easy-going and a little bit lazy and dumb, Brummitt said.
“He’s such a character that it’s kind of fun to just say things that you’d never say and do things you’d never do,” he said.
Brummitt responds to the play’s realistic nature, with characters’ conversations overlapping. There’s a message everyone can respond to.
“They’ll draw similarities from their own family — things that you and your own family do behind closed doors that you wouldn’t necessarily want to be in a glass house,” he said.
It’s a cast Moriarty almost wasn’t a part of. In the weeks leading up to the auditions, Moriarty inexplicably lost his voice and didn’t think he’d get a chance to perform. Once doctors pinpointed the problem, his voice came back and he took on the role of his grandfather, Jack McCoy.
Taking on all of these roles means “it’s far more hectic than it was before,” Moriarty said. “The end production is always what I have in mind.”
It’s a different production this time, in part because Moriarty’s a different person than he was when he first played the role 13 years ago. He’s in his 60s now, with his fourth grandchild, and has had to deal with deaths in his family.
“I think, as an actor, what I have to bring the role now is a little deeper than what I had before,” he said. “Last time I did this, my beard was brown; I didn’t realize how gray I was [now]— I can save a little bit on makeup.”
This is a more mature version of the play, Moriarty said. He hopes the characters will seem more complex and deeper to the audience.
“I’ve always thought in my heart this play transcends generations or ethnicity,” he said.
Tony Doupé, head of the Shoreline Community College Theatre and Film Arts department, is reprising his role as director following the 2001 run. Doupé is a native Seattleite with Irish heritage, so this play is a “bit closer to home” than the many others he’s directed.
Doupé sees himself as a fan and a guide for the play, he said. If the cast and crew do their jobs right, Doupé said, there will be laughter and there will be tears.
“We all have an idea of the ultimate nuclear family,” he said. “It’s very hard to achieve.”
Moriarty is excited to be performing around Saint Patrick’s Day. When he first proposed the production and the creation of the Irish Heritage Players, he hoped to make it an annual tradition to have an Irish play around the holiday. He’s focusing on this play for now; the future depends on its success and interest from future playwrights and actors.
But Moriarty said that doesn’t add any pressure. “I’m at peace with what I wrote,” he said. “It will be what it will be.... I just have to accept that. And it’s a good place to be, honestly.”
For tickets, visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/577117
To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.