“The Beauty Queen of Leenane” is often referred to as a dark comedy or adult comedy, but Traci Brandt, co-director of Valparaiso’s Chicago Street Theatre’s production of “Leenane,” sees more to the story than just laughs.
“This one has funny moments, but it also has dramatic moments and also has that quality of being a thriller, which is such a unique experience in a theater,” she said.
Opening Jan. 31 and running through Feb. 15, “Leenane” tells the tale of Maureen, a middle aged woman with mental and emotional issues living in County Galway, Ireland in the early '90s. There, she cares for her domineering mother, Mag, and struggles with neighbors Pato and Ray, who are also having issues with their lots in life.
“Leenane” was penned by U.K.-based playwright Martin McDonagh, whose CV includes acclaimed plays such as “The Pillowman,” “The Cripple of Innishman” and, on the big screen, last year’s “Seven Psychopaths.” “Leenane” made its debut in Ireland in 1996 and received six Tony Award nominations, including Best Play when it made its way to this side of the pond two years later.
Chicago Street Theatre’s production of “Leenane” marks their third McDonaugh play. In the past, they have brought both “Pillowman” and “Innishman” to their stage.
“The characters are incredible, along with the humor and the conflict that develops between the characters,” said Brandt, who is directing “Leenane” with Jonni Pera. “The conflict that develops with the characters is just really compelling for an audience.”
Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano from Crown Point portrays Maureen in Chicago Street’s production of “Leenane” and is joined onstage by a trio of Valparaiso-based thesps: Tom O’Neil as Ray, Timothy Gleason as Pato and Sheri Nash-Braun as Mag.
“We’ve got a strong, strong cast, which is something that’s great when you only have four characters,” Brandt said. “You get the chance to showcase each actor in a play like this.”
Next up for Chicago Street Theatre is a production of the comedy “Play it Again, Sam,” scheduled to open April 4.