Twelve years after it first took the Lyric Theatre by storm, Marie Jones' hugely popular comedy, Weddins, Weeins and Wakes returns to the Belfast stage as rehearsals got underway this week.
The wonderful, witty world of Weddins, Weeins and Wakes tells the story, set to a musical score by Trevor Moore, of thecircle of life in an East Belfast home where it is most definitely survival of the fittest!
The show remains a family affair as the queen of Belfast humour leads the cast, with her husband, director Ian McElhinney at the helm of the production and they are joined this time by their actor-son, Matthew McElhinney.
Two of the original cast members also make a return – Katie Tumelty, who recently impressed audiences in Mixed Marriageand Sean Kearns who returns from the West End hit Billy Elliot.
At the heart of this engaging story are neighbourhood biddies Mona (Tumelty) and Molly (Jones) who gossip into life the daily trials and tribulations of the Watson family: rearing their families, marrying them off and then burying them.
Fishwife-to-be Wendy’s groom is drunk and she’d rather be whisked away by Robbie Williams. There are brawls and belly laughs galore as the wedding party ensues in a community centre with squabbling families, drunken disorder and chaotic, clumsy passes. Jump to a glorious Twelfth of July when the Watson clan sees the arrival of a new generation and the passing of another as Wendy is re-routed to deliver her first child and her beloved Granda’s orange pallor doesn’t bode well.
The full cast line-up is: Roisin Gallagher, Marie Jones, Sean Kearns, Marty Maguire, Matthew McElhinney, Kerri Quinn and Katie Tumelty.
Marie Jones said: “It’s brilliant to be back at the Lyric again. So many people have asked over the years about when the show might come back. Last time we were only on a week when we had to extend it due to popular demand.”
Asked to explain its popularity, Marie said: “I would sum it up as a life-affirming, funny, feel-good show. As it looks like we’re in for another poor summer, this show is definitely one to lift the spirits.”
She described how at its heart the play is about community and celebration which can translate to any close-knit community, not just in Belfast.
“As you know with family celebrations, emotions often run high and that’s where the drama and comedy come into it,” she said. “It is also a celebration of the language.”
Richard Croxford, Lyric Artistic Director said: “We are delighted to bring Marie’s musical comedy and some of the original cast back to the Lyric where it was such a hit 12 years ago. There is some terrific dark Belfast humour in the play which really fits in with our Tales of the City celebrations. If you didn’t catch Weddins, Weeins and Wakes the first time round then you’re in for a fantastic treat.”
Weddins, Weeins And Wakes runs on the Danske Bank Stage from 13 June to 7 July (previews 9, 11 & 12 June). Tickets from £10 - £24.50.