Every show ends sometime (unless you're Phantom), so before the cast takes their final bow, there are a few things we want to know.
Manhattan Theatre Club's world premiere Broadway production of Pulitzer Prize winner John Patrick Shanley's Outside Mullingar is set to end its limited run March 16. The play stars Emmy Award winner Debra Messing along with Tony winner Brían F. O'Byrne, Peter Maloney, and Tony nominee Dearbhla Molloy.
In the production Molloy plays Aoife Muldoom, who, as a recent widow and mother to Messing's headstrong Rosemary Muldoom, is a woman with a lot on her plate. As the play's time on Broadway draws to a close, TheaterMania spoke to Molloy about her initial reaction to the show's unbelievable twist ending, her incredible castmates, her love of the spiraling language of John Patrick Shanley.
1. What is your favorite line that you delivered?
I think it's got to be, "Can we go home before the battery on my pacemaker runs down to zero?"
2. Everyone loves inside jokes. So tell us…
a. What's the best one from your show?
When I come off, Brían will pretend to be furious because he now still has a whole 'nother forty minutes to do. And I say, it's because you know, "Good goods come in small parcels."
b. Since there probably is one, what's the punch line of your cast's most unprintable inside joke?
I don't have any of these but at the beginning of the run, because John Patrick Shanley's language is constructed like a sort of spiral, it's layer upon layer upon layer, if you miss out a layer or you get it muddled, you can get into a terrible mess. We have gotten into a frightful mess over the "Kelleys" and the "Rileys," with none of us really knowing which we are and which they are.
3. Every show experiences technical difficulties. What was the worst technical difficulty experienced during your show and how was it handled?
Each kitchen is on a truck [that] comes in independently when the scene changes. But the large cupboard with shelves on, you know, with the cups and saucers and plates and things — kind of slots into the downstage part of the truck, so it comes in by itself. Last night, during our kitchen scene, suddenly the dresser from Debra's kitchen started to come on by itself. It sounded like somebody hammering trying to get in the scene dock doors. So there's a lot of scuttling and scrambling just behind the set, which was the crew desperately trying to haul it back. Then when Debra's kitchen finally came on, it wouldn't come on the full way. So her kitchen looked like it had kind of an L-shaped extension at the back where the dresser sat gloriously alone.
4. What was the most "interesting" present someone gave you at the stage door?
Not strange, but extremely welcome...I seem to have got a lot of candles of various different smells. Candles, flowers, chocolates. Chocolates are divine, but you eat them, don't you? That's the worst of it.
There's also a lot of young Will and Grace fans at the stage door, which is great…so it's brilliant that Will and Grace has brought young people into the theater.
5. Who is the coolest person who came to see your show? (You can't say family!)
Well, we're talking about sort of gods and goddesses here. I think the greatest shock I had was when I was facing away from the door, and I was talking to my brother and sister-in-law who came backstage, and the next thing, their faces changed radically and they jumped to their feet, and I didn't know what was going on. So I turned around and there was Meryl Streep. The other great shock but absolutely great thrill was Joan Rivers. And I was also a huge fan of Boardwalk Empire, and…Bobby Canavale turned up outside the door, so that was brilliant.
6. When you first read the play's twist ending on paper what was your reaction to it and how has that understanding changed?
Oh, I thought, Well this is never gonna work, they're gonna change this. But what's changed is the way Brían O'Byrne a) plays the part, and b) delivers that line as if it's something — which of course it is — profoundly intimate and private. He's managed to have people in tears.
7. What's the most interesting reaction you've encountered?
Usually it's a sort of a gasp of shock and then a roar of laughter. But not a roar of ridicule at all, it's a roar of kind of delight, in a sense, and also astonishment that they, the audience, are going along with it. It's a roar of "OK, I'll accept this."
8. You and Debra have a fantastic onstage relationship. Have you developed a mother-daughter dynamic offstage as well?
Well, no, apart from the fact that she calls me "ma'am." We have a lovely relationship. In fact, the four of us in the cast, I have to say, we've all bonded sort of instantaneously and it's been terrifically supportive and generous and warm. So it wasn't difficult to develop that relationship. It developed in time, while we were onstage. You know that's what happens in a play. The little tiny glances get put in and you kind of build on where you begin.
9. The women in Outside Mullingar are arguably the strongest characters in the play. Are they indicative of the Irish women you've known?
That's a hard question to answer. Irish women are strong and Irish country woman are particularly strong because they have to be. But I don't think Outside Mullingar is itself typical anymore. John Patrick Shanley is writing a sort of mythic Ireland that he inhabits in his heart and soul as an Irish-American. Now things are much more egalitarian.
10. How do you think things work out in the end for Anthony and Rosemary?
I don't think it's happy ever after, but I don't think it's unhappy ever after. I think it's probably a good sparring relationship. I think that each of them will probably develop into their own parent in a way.
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