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Thou must not be boring

Cassie Pence

Irish playwright Donal O’Kelly finds a lot of theater boring. So for the last couple years, he has developed a style of theater involving storytelling and excitement with music to create a unique audience experience.Hence, the creation of “Catalpa.” Catalpa is a name of a whaling ship used in 1875. Departing from New Bedford, Mass., the ship sailed around the world to western Australia to rescue six Irish prisoners from the British penal settlement. The ship brought them back to New York, and the triumph was celebrated with the first Ticker-tape Parade. In “Catalpa,” the rescue story is presented as a screenplay in a failed screenwriter’s head. The screenwriter, O’Kelly, shares with the audience how he should of pitched the movie.

“In the doing of that, I by magic, create the entire epic movie in the audiences imagination,” O’Kelly said. “It combines political intrigue of the time with swashbuckling heroics and hot romance. Not necessarily in that order. All based on historic fact.”When O’Kelly discovered the story he was astonished. He was determined to find a way to present the Greek-quest like story that covers three continents of the globe on stage.

“Catalpa” is a one-man play, accompanied by musician Trevor Knight. The music is essential, O’Kelly said, to give it a feeling of an epic movie. O’Kelly plays 24 rogue characters in all. Breaking out his theatrical bag of magic tricks, the effect is much like poetry set to music.”I’m interested in triggering the audiences imagination so that they see much better pictures in their own mind than you could possibly present in the most extravagant sets and costumes,” O’Kelly said.

O’Kelly uses the right words, rhythm, music, sound and good acting to infuse the play with dramatic impact. O’Kelly said he is exploring a whole area of theater that has yet to be explored sufficiently. But the style’s effectiveness is up to the Beaver Creek audience to decide.”I think if you’re trying to do something innovative and new, well that infuses the piece of theater with a kind of vibrancy, a liveliness,” O’Kelly said.Tickets for “Catalpa” are $40 and available at the Vilar Center Box office at 845-TIXS.


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