by Stephen Dafoe
Family, friends and Morinville residents will have the opportunity to say their farewell to Charlie Lafferty at Rory’s Pub in the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. The evening will be a gala evening for the well-known pub, and many regulars are expected to pay tribute to the man.
Lafferty’s Wake is an interactive farce that sold out 13 straight nights in St. Albert last spring and is coming to Morinville for one night only June 4.
Global’s Kevin O’Connell plays the role of Rory Finn, the owner of the pub where the Lafferty Wake is to be held.
“It’s a very light-hearted look at the life of Charlie, who spends his days in the local pub, and that’s where the wake takes place with all of his friends and family,” O’Connell said. “We spend the evening toasting his favourite things, playing his favourite games, and singing his favourite songs. And remembering his life and a few of the struggles and the ordeals that he’s had through his life.”
Lafferty’s Wake, a play by Susan Turlish, has no fourth wall. The audience is part of the production. Set in Roy’s pub, the audience are the landlord’s guests, and play a role in the proceedings.
“Every time we toast something, the audience is there – those are all of Charlie’s friends,” O’Connell said. “They’re invited to celebrate with us and sing the songs with us, and sometimes they get pointed out to add to the play as well.”
O’Connell’s friend of almost 30 years, Mark McGarrigle, plays the role of Father Pettigrew, the village priest.
“He’s been around for 25 years, and he kind of knows everybody and he spends a lot of time at the pub,” O’Connell said. “He’s got his own chair. He’s got his own glass. He’s got his own specified drink. He knows stories about everybody, and he knows secrets about everybody, too.”
Joining O’Connell and McGarrigle are Rita Jensen as the widow Kathleen Lafferty. “Rita’s from St. Albert, an accomplished community actress,” O’Connell said. “She’s the great grieving widow. She’s had the tough life – 13 kids. Lafferty’s treated her badly her whole life, and she can’t believe this is happening to her.”
Sandra McCallum plays Maggie Clancy, Charlie Lafferty’s oldest daughter. O’Connell said the character was the one straddled with helping all the younger kids in the family, a vantage point from which she has learned many family secrets.
Adam Montgomery plays Patrick Clancy, Lafferty’s son-in-law, a character O’Connell said is not exactly the most devoted young husband in the world.
Finishing the cast is Laurie Borle as Molly, a character of some mystery in the production, and an individual who shares an interesting past with Charlie and Kathleen Lafferty.
“That doesn’t really come out until the end of the first act, and then we get into the relationship and discover exactly where this relationship has come from and where it is going to,” O’Connell said. “Then the surprises happen, and that’s when the face part of the play really starts to come out, and the comedy and timing start to come in as well.”
Lafferty’s Wake runs 2:15 with intermission. A reception and a meal catered by the Green Bean precede the performance.
“We thought if we are going to make a night out for people, let’s make it fantastic and up the food quality and have a reception beforehand,” O’Connell said of the gala atmosphere planned for the night.
Organizers are anticipating another successful performance. The 13-night run in St. Albert oversold in 2015, and there were people who did not get to see the performance. O’Connell said it has taken a year to get another venue and cast together to put the show on once again.
“It was so much fun. It really is a labour of love,” he said. “We thought it was more fun to do than it is to watch because we really had a blast doing it. It really is a treat to do this play, and the audience loves it because there really is a lot of audience participation. There is a tremendous amount of toasting. We toast everything from Charlie Lafferty’s dog to the little Grey Nuns from the 1400s.”
Lafferty’s Wake takes place at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre, 9502 100 Avenue, June 4 for a one-night-only Gala Theatre Event. Tickets are $75, or $65 for seniors. Tickets are available by calling 780-939-7888 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. doors open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner and performance to follow.