Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog



A mysterious stranger visits four friends for a Christmas Eve poker game in The Seafarer, a Tony-nominated play by leading Irish playwright Conor McPherson at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, October 15 – November 8, 2009; stage direction by Merrimack Rep Artistic Director Charles Towers. Performances begin Thursday, October 15 at 7:30PM, with Opening Night on Sunday, October 18 at 7PM, running through November 8. Subscriptions and individual tickets are on sale now.

The Seafarer currently is one of the Top 10 most produced plays in America. Nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Play, The Seafarer is a hilarious and chilling tale of the sea, Ireland and redemption. James “Sharky” Harkin has returned home to care for his aging brother Richard, who has recently gone blind, and to spend Christmas Eve with old friends Ivan and Nicky. Nicky is accompanied by the mysterious Mr. Lockhart, whose connection to Sharky’s past is slowly revealed as the evening devolves into an all night, liquor-soaked game of poker where the stakes are damningly high. 

“A midnight-black comedy, one that wrenches laughter out of the despair of frustrated men.” – The Wall Street Journal

Speaking about the production, director Charles Towers said “The Seafarer is a fantastic play.  Every theatre-lover should be able to see it, and I wanted to make sure Merrimack Rep’s audience had an opportunity to do so.  I have gathered a cast of MRT regulars, each an outstanding actor, to bring this remarkable script to life. Together they will make an exceptional ensemble and an exceptional evening of theatre.” 

Born in Dublin in 1971, Conor McPherson has grown into one of Ireland’s most acclaimed contemporary playwrights. He got his start writing at an early age, finishing his first work, Taking Stock at age 18, and had his first play, Rum and Vodka, professionally produced in 1992.  Since then he has garnered international recognition for his work, receiving the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play for The Weir in 1999, and Tony nominations for The Seafarer in 2006. Longtime Merrimack Rep subscribers may remember the theatre’s production of The Weir in 2002. The London Telegraph summed up McPherson’s talents quite succinctly when it called him “The finest dramatist of his generation.”

The production’s creative staff includes Charles Towers (director), Deborah Newhall (costume design), Bill Clarke (set design), Matthew Adelson (lighting design) and Julie Nelson (dialect coach). The all-Equity cast features five veterans of the Liberty Hall stage who have made a combined 11 appearances in Merrimack Rep productions. David Adkins (Sharky) and Mark Zeisler (Mr. Lockhart) appeared in last season’s production of Tranced. Zeisler also appeared in the 2005 production of The Homecoming with Allyn Burrows, who won an Elliot Norton award for his role as Teddy. Burrows has previously appeared in Aunt Dan & Lemon, As You Like It, God’s Country, Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 1991 production of A Moon for the Misbegotten, and The Pursuit of Happiness with fellow Seafarer cast-mate Jim Frangione. Tony and Drama Desk Award nominee Gordon Joseph Weiss returns to Merrimack Rep after portraying Phil Hogan in the 2009 production of A Moon for the Misbegotten, which closed out the theatre’s 30th anniversary season to rave reviews.  

Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 2009-2010 season is sponsored by Lowell Cooperative Bank.  The Seafarer is sponsored by Wannalancit Mills, an investment of Farley While Interests.  Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


David Adkins (James “Sharky” Harkin) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: TrancedBroadway: Saint Joan, National Actors Theatre.  Off-Broadway: Manhattan Theatre Club, Aquila Theater Company, Primary Stages, The Women’s Project.  Regional: Center Stage, George Street Playhouse, Goodman Theatre, Seattle’s ACT Theatre, American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, Old Globe, Long Wharf Theatre, Madison Repertory Theatre, Kennedy Center, The Cleveland Play House, Huntington Theatre Company, Denver Center Theatre Company, Philadelphia Drama Guild, Barrington Stage Company, and Berkshire Theater Festival (14 Seasons). Television: Without a Trace, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU; Chicago Hope, Trinity, As The World Turns, One Life to Live, Another World, and the pilots Benjamin Franklin and Blaq Jaq. Education: Juilliard.

Allyn Burrows (Nicky Giblin) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: The Pursuit of Happiness, Aunt Dan & Lemon, The Homecoming, As You Like It, A Moon for the Misbegotten, God’s CountryOff-Broadway: King Lear, Bug, Bonnie, Louis Slotin Sonata, Closetland, Flattering Word, Killer JoeRegional: All My Sons, Actors Theatre of Louisville; Colossus of Rhodes, American Conservatory Theatre; Heartbreak House, Berkshire Theatre Festival; Twelfth Night, Long Wharf Theatre; Romeo & Juliet, Denver Center; Hamlet, Elm Shakespeare Company; The Heiress, Walnut Street Theatre; Pericles, King’s County Shakespeare; Hay Fever, Pioneer Theatre.  Recent work in Massachusetts: King Lear, All’s Well That Ends Well, Richard III, Measure for Measure, Actors’ Shakespeare Project; Five by Tenn, SpeakEasy Stage Company; King John, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, Shakespeare & Company.  International: The Rivals, Derby Playhouse, England.  FilmThe Company Men, Julie & JuliaThe WindigoTelevision: Law & Order; Law & Order: Criminal Intent; Against the LawAwards: 2006 Elliott Norton Award for The Homecoming, King Lear, and Five by TennEducation: Boston University, National Theatre of Great Britain.

Jim Frangione (Ivan Curry) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: The Pursuit of Happiness.  New York: Appeared in several of David Mamet’s plays including Old Neighborhood and Oleanna, as well as the National Tour; The Night Heron, Hobson’s Choice, Edmond, Sea of Tranquility, Hellhound On My Trail and, most recently, Romance at Atlantic Theater Company.  Regional: American Buffalo, Berkshire Theatre Festival; Front Page, Long Wharf Theatre.  He directed Romance at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater and Seriously Funny, an evening of shorts by Mamet, Pinter and Silverstein at American Repertory Theater.  Film: TransAmerica, Spartan, State and Main, Heist, The Spanish Prisoner, Homicide all directed by David Mamet; Claire Dolan, Maryam, Rubout, Suits, Frozen Impact, Little Kings, The Last Days of May.  Television: Appeared in episodes of Brotherhood; The Unit; Law & Order: Criminal Intent; Law & Order: SVU; Law & Order; New York Undercover; Another World and All My Children  Other: He is currently co-artistic director of the Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Great Barrington, MA and was a founder of The Stage Company of Boston.

Gordon Joseph Weiss (Richard Harkin) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: A Moon for the MisbegottenBroadway: Sly Fox, The Life, Jelly’s Last Jam, The Visit, Ghetto (Tony and Drama Desk Nominations), Raggedy Ann, King of Hearts, Goodtime Charley and Jumpers.  Regional: Tobacco Road (Jeter Lester), Triad Stage; principal roles at Virginia Stage Company, Baltimore’s Center Stage, Goodspeed Opera House, Ford’s Theatre, McCarter Theatre, American Festival Theatre, Pennsylvania Festival Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville.  Film: Imaginary Heroes, Joe Gould’s Secret, Howard Stern’s Private Parts, Awakenings, Reversal of Fortune, Lustre, The UndeservedTelevision: Law & Order, Third Watch, Spin City, Law & Order: SVU, New York Undercover, NYPD Blue.

Mark Zeisler (Mr. Lockhart) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: Tranced, The HomecomingBroadway: A View from the Bridge, Brooklyn BoyOff-Broadway: Eurydice, Second Stage; The Accomplices, The New Group; Self-Defense, New Georges; Acts of Faith, Mosaic Theatre/92 St Y.  New England: Major Barbara, Road to Nirvana, The King Stag, The Homecoming, Once in a Lifetime, The Caretaker, American Repertory Theater; The Black Dahlia, The King Stag, Eurydice, Yale Repertory Theatre; Big Love, Long Wharf Theatre; Hamlet, The Matchmaker, Elm Shakespeare Company.  Regional: Yankee Tavern, Florida Stage (World Premiere); The Tempest, The Seagull, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula, Actors Theatre of Louisville; Big Love, Louisville, Berkeley Repertory Theatre; BAM Next Wave Festival; Measure for Measure (Helen Hayes nomination), Folger Theatre; A Picasso, City Theatre; A Doll House, McCarter Theatre; Art, Hangar Theatre; Othello, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Arcadia, Alabama Shakespeare; Julius Caesar, Philadelphia Drama Guild; Romeo and Juliet, Baltimore Center Stage.  Film: Random Hearts, Torch Song Trilogy, Shaft, The Thomas Crown Affair, Two Week Notice, Head of State, Revolution #9, After School (2008 NY Film Festival entry).  Television: Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Third Watch, New York Undercover, Rescue Me, many soaps.  Education: BFA, SUNY-Purchase.

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