Brendan at the Chelsea cast leave in style for Broadway

The cast of comedy drama Brendan At The Chelsea which embarks on a tour off-Broadway were given a warm New York-style farewell by Belfast Lord Mayor, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and the Arts Council today.

Acclaimed actor Adrian Dunbar directs and stars in the play about the notorious Irish writer, Brendan Behan, which was written by his niece Janet Behan.

As the cast finished rehearsals this week at the Lyric Theatre, they drove off in a New York-style yellow cab – a sight they will see plenty of during the show’s five-week run in the Big Apple.

It is fitting that this witty drama should do a run off-Broadway as the play is set in the legendary New York bohemian hub, The Chelsea Hotel where a hung-over, destitute Behan stayed in the 1960s.

The New York run at the Acorn Theatre, West 42nd Street, is generously supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the British Council, Culture Ireland, NI Bureau, NI Connections and Tourism Ireland. The play then comes home to Belfast for a limited run on the Danske Bank Stage at the Lyric from 30 October to 10 November, before touring to Dublin and Londonderry.

Adrian Dunbar said: “It has always been our ambition to take Brendan at the Chelsea to New York – it’s natural home in many ways. After our sell-out run at the Lyric we suggested that it would be a fitting way to thank all our patrons in New York and re-ignite the Lyric touring tradition if Brendan were to return there, and here we are! Thank you Lyric and all our funders.”

The cast of five also include Belfast actors, Richard Orr and Chris Robinson, Pauline Hutton from Derry and English actress Samantha Pearl.

Richard Croxford, the Lyric’s Artistic Director said: “We are delighted to have one of Ireland’s finest actors, Adrian Dunbar, reprising his role as Brendan Behan in a production that packed out the Naughton Studio at the Lyric when we first opened two years ago. It will undoubtedly attract large audiences in New York and we are grateful to our generous supporters who are making this tour possible.”

Noírín McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: “As principal funder of the Lyric Theatre, we are delighted to be able to support their production of Brendan at the Chelsea in touring to New York. This play about legendary Irish writer Brendan Behan and starring Adrian Dunbar, one of Northern Ireland’s leading stage and screen actors, aptly represents the international calibre of our theatre and is a must-see for one and all.”

Belfast Lord Mayor, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, wished the cast well for the tour:

“I wish the cast every success on their trip to New York. Broadway is legendary around the world for the fantastic theatre shows it has to offer and for the cast of Brendan At The Chelsea to take centre stage, is just fantastic news. I have no doubt the play will be a tremendous hit and I look forward to its return to the Lyric Theatre in October.”

Brendan at the Chelsea runs at the Acorn Theatre, West 42nd Street, New York from 4 Sept to 6 Oct. It then returns home to the Lyric Theatre, Belfast from 30 Oct to 10 Nov. The show then tours to the Project Arts Centre in Dublin from 12 to 16 Nov and finally performs at the Millennium Forum, Derry 19 & 20 Nov.