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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: ‘Molly Sweeney’ set for ‘PlayWorks 2021’ in Sturgeon Bay

Critic At Large

Poster with actors, from left, Michael Herold, Karen Moeller and Doug Mancheski.

STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Third Avenue Playhouse will continue its “PlayWorks 2021” play reading series with “Molly Sweeney” at 7 p.m. May 21. Info: thirdavenueplayhouse.com.

The series has run online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The play is by popular Irish dramatist Brian Friel.

Told is the story of its title character, a woman blind since infancy, who undergoes an operation to try to restore her sight. Everything is learned through monologues by three characters: Molly, her husband, Frank, and her surgeon, Mr. Rice.

Featured are Karen Moeller, Michael Herold and Doug Mancheski.

Direction is by Robert Boles, co-artistic director of Third Avenue playhouse.

Mike Fischer, former arts critic for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, will join the cast and director for a live talkback immediately following the reading.

According to a press release:

+ Brian Patrick Friel was founder of the Field Day Theatre Company. He had been considered one of the greatest living English-language dramatists. Friel has been described as “the universally accented voice of Ireland.”

His plays have been compared favorably to those of contemporaries such as Samuel Beckett, Arthur Miller, Harold Pinter and Tennessee Williams.

Friel first gained international recognition with his play “Philadelphia, Here I Come” in 1964. Over a career that spanned more than five decades, he created an extensive body of work including “Translations,” “Faith Healer,” “Aristocrats” and the widely acclaimed “Dancing at Lughnasa.”

+ Robert Boles’ directing credits since his start at Third Avenue Playhouse in 2011 include “The Subject Was Roses,” “Souvenir,” “The Santaland Diaries,” “Love Letters,” “Greater Tuna,” “This Wonderful Life,” “Talley’s Folly,” “Private Lives,” “Oleanna,” “Educating Rita,” “Sylvia,” “A Walk in the Woods,” “Isaac’s Eye,” “The Gin Game,” “True West,” “Red,” “Every Brilliant Thing,” “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol,” “Gray’s Anatomy,” Lungs” and “Billy Bishop Goes to War.” Acting credits include “The House of Blue Leaves,” “Yuletide Tales” and “The Fantasticks.” For StageKids (educational outreach program), he has directed productions of “columbinus,” “Our Town,” “The Laramie Project,” “Sure Thing,” “Adaptation,” “Hello Out There” and “The Fifteen Minute Hamlet” – all featuring middle and high school students from throughout Door County. Boles is a member of Actors Equity, Dramatists Guild, Society of Directors and Choreographers, and the Screen Actors Guild.

+ Karen Moeller (Molly Sweeney) last appeared on Third Avenue Playhouse in “Dig.” Moeller resides in Madison, where she works with Forward Theater Company (“The Farnsworth Invention,” “In the Next Room,” “Sons of the Prophet,” “From Up Here,” “Marjorie Prime”), CTM (“Charlotte’s Web,” “Tuck Everlasting”) and other theaters. Other favorite roles include Beatrice (“Much Ado About Nothing”), Agnes (“Bug”) and Desiree (“A Little Night Music”). She is a busy voiceover and commercial actor, and has performed with the 9XM Players for Wisconsin Public Radio.

+ Michael Herold (Frank Sweeney) joins Third Avenue Playhouse for this reading, working with long-time friends, Moeller and Mancheski. Herold is a founding member of Forward Theater Company, Madison. He has been a member of Actor’s Equity since 1991. Herold has performed such companies throughout the Midwest as Briar Street Theater in Chicago, Milwaukee Rep, Milwaukee Chamber Theater, Next Act Theater, Madison Rep, Theatre LILA, Forward Theater, Four Seasons Theater, Door Shakespeare, Children’s Theater of Madison and Artists Ensemble in Rockford, Ill. He has acted in films, television and radio commercials. He resides in Sun Prairie.

+ Doug Mancheski (Mr. Rice) returns to Third Avenue Playhouse, where he acted in “Gray’s Anatomy,” “Shooting Star,” “True West” and “The Drawer Boy.” Mancheski has spent more than two decades performing at Northern Sky Theater in such shows as “Dad’s Season Tickets,” “Boxcar,” “Lumberjacks in Love,” “Muskie Love,” “Victory Farm,” “Bone Dance,” “The Bachelors” and “Fishing for the Moon.” He is probably best known for playing Marvin in “Guys on Ice,” a role he has lost count on the number of times he’s performed since 1998. He also was seen in the recently released film “Coming Up for Air.” He has performed with most major theaters in Wisconsin after living and performing in New York City for several years. A graduate of New York University’s graduate actor training program, Mancheski has studied with Mike Nichols, Paul Sills and David Mamet. He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association.

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