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Shuswap Theatre to stage quirky love story with an Irish twist

Outside Mullingar to be this year’s entry for 2024 Okanagan Zone Festival
Actors Liz Willms, Eileen Podanowski, Oliver Becker and John Lomas rehearse for the upcoming Shuswap Theatre production, Outside Mullingar. (Susan MacMillan photo)

By Barb Brouwer


Travel to Ireland in the Shuswap Theatre production of Outside Mullingar.

Created by award winning playwright John Patrick Shanley, this funny, charming and quirky love story with an Irish twist opens on April 26.

A visit to his father’s former home in Ireland provided a rich base for Shanley’s delightful play about an attraction between rural neighbours, although undeniable, not always evident. What is the “secret” that stands so firmly in Rosemary and Anthony’s way? The complication of a 30-year land dispute between the two families, cooks up a recipe for laughter and tears.

This love story is by turns poetic, uplifting, dark and very funny. Anthony is an introverted farmer and Rosemary has vowed to have him at all costs. When Anthony’s father threatens to disinherit him, Rosemary steps into the middle of a land feud, and family eccentricities beyond what one might imagine. On the brink of a romantic catastrophe, this one-of-a-kind Irish heroine fights against time and mortality in hopes of securing her dream of love.

“I am a lover of language and I particularly admire the rhythms and idioms of the rural Irish way of speaking,” said director Kim MacMillan, noting that Shanley, the screenwriter for the popular movie Moonstruck, has captured the Irish charm in this tightly written play. “The characters are complex and interesting, and our actors are doing a great job of bringing all that to life.”

In terms of categorizing Outside Mullingar, MacMillan said that while it is not a comedy, it is very funny.

And while it couldn’t be called a romance, it is very much a love story.

“You could call it a drama for the strong dramatic elements in it,” said MacMillan. “In the end, it’s a delightful combination of all three.”

MacMillan saw Outside Mullingar performed in Oliver in 2018 and said it has been on his directing wishlist ever since.

“It was very well done and I was intrigued by the charm and the language,” he says, pointing out the four actors in the Shuswap Theatre production have great acting chops and that cast and crew are a joy to work with.

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“All four actors are new to Shuswap audiences, but together they bring years of experience to the joyful task of telling this story,” said MacMillan. “Rosemary and Anthony are played by Liz Willms and Oliver Becker, while the aging parents are played by Eileen Podanowski and John Lomas.”

MacMillan is no newcomer to Shuswap Theatre. He arrived in Salmon Arm in 1978 and headed right to the theatre. He first appeared in Come Blow Your Horn, which was presented in the theatre’s second year of operation.

“I had an absolute ball and I was hooked,” said the actor who has appeared in several productions and directed seven.

This will be Shuswap Theatre’s final production of the season and will be its entry into the 2024 Okanagan Zone Festival at Powerhouse Theatre, Vernon on May 15.

A gala opening for Outside Mullingar takes place Friday, April 26, with drinks and finger food after the show. Tickets for the show that runs to May 11 are available at Choose Refill located in Lakeshore Village near Wendy’s and Boston Pizza, online at, or pay at the door with cash if the performance is not sold out.

Thursday through Saturday evening shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday matinee begins at 1:30 p.m. Pay what you can Thursday is May 2.