While the Department of Theatre Arts at SUNY-New Paltz does quite a creditable job of producing its own regular season of plays, directed by professors and acted and crewed by students, it also has a long history of playing host to touring performances by well-known theatrical professionals. One of the latter hits town this weekend, with two shows on the New Paltz campus of Belfast Blues, a one-woman play written and performed by Irish stage and screen star Geraldine Hughes.
Developed in collaboration with Kim Terrell and the Virtual Theatre Project in 2003, Belfast Blues is a tapestry of stories told from Hughes’ perspective as a little girl coming of age in war-torn Northern Ireland in the 1980s, trying to live a normal life amidst violent clashes between Catholic and Protestant partisans. Born in West Belfast, Hughes is probably best-known in the US for her roles as Marie in the sixth Rocky movie, Rocky Balboa, and as Mary Todd Lincoln in the TV movie Killing Lincoln. Her Broadway credits include Jerusalem, Translations and Cyrano de Bergerac.
What’s particularly intriguing about this production of Belfast Blues, however, is the director: the iconic character actress Carol Kane. TV fans know her as Simka on Taxi and as Lillian on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; moviegoers may recall her Oscar-nominated starring role in Hester Street or her smaller parts in Annie Hall or Dog Day Afternoon, or her unforgettable turn as Valerie, the wild-haired, wild-eyed harridan wife of Billy Crystal’s Miracle Max in The Princess Bride. Her Broadway credits include The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Sly Fox and the 2012 revival of Harvey, not to mention recurring embodiments of Madame Morrible in Wicked.
For all her mile-long acting résumé, Kane hasn’t yet become a household name for her directing. Seeing how she does with this traveling show might be worth the price of admission in itself. Check out Belfast Blues this Friday and Saturday, October 14 and 15 at 8 p.m. at the McKenna Theatre. Tickets cost $20 general admission, $18 for seniors (62+), New Paltz faculty and staff and non-New Paltz students and $10 for SUNY-New Paltz students. To purchase, call (845) 257-3880, visit www.newpaltz.edu/theatre, or come to the box office in Parker Theatre between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets can also be purchased at the box office in McKenna Theatre one hour prior to the performance.