Encore Theatre to start year with ‘Mullingar’

LIMA — Wes Allen is set to direct a new play at Encore Theatre.

“Outside Mullingar”, a romantic comedy set in Ireland, will premier this Friday at 8 p.m. at the theatre, located at 991 North Shore Drive, and Allen said he is impressed with the cast and that the audience should be too.

“We have an awesome, stellar cast,” he said. “If any of the audience has been to an Encore show, they’ll recognize some of our faces, as there are only four in the cast. It’s an all-star cast, in my opinion, because they are some of the best actors I’ve ever worked with.”

The play, about two children who grow up next door to each other but never get the chance to fall in love until their 40s, forced Allen and the cast to undertake a lot of character development.

“We had to really sit down and understand the backstories of these characters and how they should influence the performances,” he said. “In one line, when we first read it, it might sound completely different from when we eventually understand the character. It’s a little different for an actor and it’s something we’ve been working on.”

Allen is confident that the work will pay off.

“I think they’re really going to see some awesome performances by some really talented actors,” he said. “I think they’re going to be really blown away by the talent we have on stage there.”

Managing his own nerves, though, is a different story.

“For directors, it’s interesting because on opening night, your job is pretty much done,” he said. “Everything is in the actor’s hands and there’s nothing you can do. It’s a little scary sometimes, but with this cast, it’s easy to trust that they know what they’re doing.”

For the audience, the experience will be more than just performance.

“We’re doing some rain on the stage and it should be cool as heck,” Allen said. “I’m really excited to see how the audience reacts and if it comes off in the way I want it.”

It means a lot for Allen to get the chance to direct this play.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” he said. “When you read the script for the first time, you fall in love with it as a director and then you have these ideas forming in your head and envision how it looks. And then you go to the performances and put all this time in with the actors and building the set. It feels like you created the whole vision and it’s an awesome feeling.”

But the most important thing is what the audience gleans from the play.

“I think there are two big themes in the show: families and self-confidence,” Allen said. “I hope the audience can take that in and ask if there’s something in their own lives that they aren’t doing because they are scared. And then I want them to challenge themselves to do that.”

“Outside Mullingar” will run for the next two weekends from Friday to Sunday with matinee performances at 2 p.m. Feb. 18 and 25. All other showtimes will be at 8 p.m.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Encore Theatre website.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.