From Belfast to Broadway – Highlight of Lyric’s New Season Goes Trans-Atlantic

THE Lyric can announce its acclaimed comedy drama Brendan At The Chelsea will tour to New York before returning for a limited run in Belfast where it will form the highlight of the theatre’s new season.

It is fitting that this witty biodrama about the notorious Irish writer, Brendan Behan and starring Adrian Dunbar, should go to the Big Apple as the play is set in the legendary New York bohemian hub, The Chelsea Hotel.

The play tells the story of a hung-over, destitute Behan in the hotel in the 1960’s. Arthur Miller is just across the hall and the symphony of 24th Street is rising up and in through the open window of Behan’s room. He’s missed the delivery date of his latest book, his mistress keeps ringing, the bills aren’t paid and then a wire arrives from Dublin with the kind of news that’s guaranteed to put his blood pressure through the roof.

The New York run at Theatre Row, off Broadway is for a month in September/October and 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 on the Danske Bank Stage at the Lyric from 30 October to 10 November, before touring to Dublin and Derry.dn_screen

Aubrey Irwin, Tourism Ireland, said: “Tourism Ireland is delighted to support the Lyric Theatre’s New York performances and especially the forthcoming, Brendan at the Chelsea. This is a great way to highlight Northern Ireland talent in New York and show the creativity and home-grown enthusiasm for the arts scene in Northern Ireland. By supporting this programme, Tourism Ireland is helping to showcase the cultural richness that makes a visit here memorable and increase the number of overseas visitors.”

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.

Brendan At The Chelsea is sure to be a highlight of our new autumn season which is packed with an exciting mix of classic titles and new writing,” he added.

There is a lavish opening to the autumn season with Pride and Prejudice – the Musical to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s best-loved novel.

For those who haven’t read the novel, caught the TV series or seen the movies…the story centres on the Bennets who have been blessed with five daughters. It is Mrs Bennet’s mission to see them all married to eminently suitable suitors. After all, “it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single gentleman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”. As luck would have it a wealthy young gentleman has just taken up residence in the neighbourhood…

The two romantic leads are Hazel Gardner as Lizzie (The Sound of Music) and Neil McDermott, best known as Ryan Malloy from Eastenders, who plays the swoonsome Mr Darcy. The show is produced in conjunction with Everyman Theatre, Cork and is directed by the Richard Croxford, who described it as “a visual and musical treat”.

There is plenty of theatre to enjoy this summer with two stage adaptations from popular novels – the international best-seller Tuesdays with Morrie in July and The Love-Hungry Farmer performed by one of Ireland’s foremost actors, Des Keogh in August.

The new season offers a wealth of drama to keep the kids entertained from visiting productions such as the Julia Donaldson stories Room On The Broom, What The Ladybird Heard and Oliver Jeffers’ How To Catch A Star, to the Lyric’s Christmas musical, Cinderella.

With competitive schools’ prices, family tickets and group discounts available, the enchanting story ofCinderella comes alive with a lively soundtrack and colourful characters which make this a must-see treat for all the family. Cinderella runs in the Danske Bank Stage from 24 November 2013 to 5 January 2014.

For the over-16’s, the Lyric’s biting comedy review of the year Forget Turkey returns due to popular demand as 2013 comes under the satirical pen of writing trio, Colin Murphy, Gary Mitchell and Dan Gordon. Forget Turkey (We Liked It So Much We’re Going to Phuket Again) runs from 12 December 2013 to 12 January 2014.

Looking ahead to 2014, the Lyric is delighted to announce a Brian Friel Season across both Lyric stages in February/March to celebrate the 85th birthday of the world’s greatest-living playwright.

Philadelphia, Here I Come! established Friel as one of the best playwrights of his generation. Written in 1964, the play captures perfectly the Irish sense of both belonging and also longing for someplace else, no less relevant today as the economic climate forces a new wave of Irish emigration.

Running simultaneously in the Naughton Studio, is Friel’s rarely performed play Molly Sweeney which has been revived in association with The Print Room, London. It tells the story of a blind woman from Ballybeg who is persuaded to have an operation to restore her sight and the impact this has on her and the people around her.

As well as the Lyric’s own productions, there is a wide range of visiting shows, concerts and events to enjoy over the coming months. Check out our website for more information or see the list in Notes to Editors below.


Since the Lyric reopened two years ago, almost 18,000 people have taken part in Creative Learning’s inspiring programme of activities, and many of our budding actors in the Lyric Drama Studio look forward to taking up places at prestigious drama colleges across the UK and Ireland this autumn.

Applications are open for the new six-month course of the Lyric Drama Studio which begins in September and is suitable for 18-25 year olds who have a serious aspiration to train as actors. The Lyric Theatre School also begins a new term in mid-September and offers a range of programmes from Storytrekkerson Sundays for kids as young as four to drama workshops for all ages including adults.

Roisín McDonough, Arts Council of Northern Ireland Chief Executive, said: “As principal funder of the state-of-the-art Lyric Theatre, the Arts Council is excited about the diverse programme that lies in store for Autumn Winter 2013.

“We are particularly looking forward to the return of Adrian Dunbar in the Lyric’s production of Brendan at the Chelsea, which we have also been fortunate enough to support in touring to New York as part of the First Irish Theatre Festival. The Lyric will continue to thrive in 2013 with the £1 million invested by the Arts Council protecting, strengthening and developing the arts infrastructure here while stimulating the economy through cultural tourism.”

Rhonda Gibson, Corporate Affairs Manager with Danske Bank said: “As always, this season doesn’t disappoint – with iconic characters, much admired writers and some great performances to look forward to. Continuing to capture the hearts and imaginations of the youngest audiences as well, the highlights for children complete a great line up for this autumn. Once again the Danske Bank Stage is at the heart of an eagerly anticipated season, and offering something for everyone.”

For more information on the Lyric’s season or to book, go to or contact the Box Office on (028) 9038 1081.