‘Lafferty’s Wake’ reminisces and everyone plays a role

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --  Nancy Litton, left, Dave Besse, center, and Suzanne Besse, enact a scene from the Baton Rouge Irish Club's upcoming production of' 'Lafferty's Wake.'
Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Nancy Litton, left, Dave Besse, center, and Suzanne Besse, enact a scene from the Baton Rouge Irish Club's upcoming production of' 'Lafferty's Wake.'

BR Irish Club stages its summer production

If only Lafferty were here.

That would complete the party, because everyone knows Rory’s Pub has always been his home away from home.

This is why it’s only right to gather here for his wake.

Lafferty has died, and his family and friends are celebrating his life through stories, jokes and songs. And you get to be a part of it.

Because you are a member of the funeral party the moment you walk into the Cafe Americain’s dining room.

The show opens Friday, and everyone’s a character.

“We don’t want to scare anyone off,” Dale Aguillard says. “There will be some audience participation, but everyone will have fun.”

Aguillard is the production’s co-director, as well as Laffery-of-old. In other words, Lafferty makes a couple of Ghost of Christmas Past-like appearances during the play.

And there’s a twist, one guaranteed to surprise those attending the wake.

Speaking of wakes, why not eat while you’re there? The late Lafferty wouldn’t have had a problem with it, and Cafe Americain is offering a special menu for the play. This doesn’t mean you have to buy a meal to attend the wake. Show only tickets are available, but reservations must be made for the meal.

Tickets will be available at the door, but it’s wise to purchase them ahead of time.

“We’ll have 60 tickets available per performance,” Aguillard says.

Cast members sing such Irish standards as “Molly Malone,” “Rising of the Moon,” “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” and “The Orange and the Green” while moving through the audience.

“They tell stories about Lafferty, yet nobody knows what he died from,” Aguillard says.

Ah, so there’s the mystery. Here’s the celebration of Lafferty’s life, but why did it come to this?

Again there is a twist to this story. And revealing that much isn’t giving away anything in the story, much less the surprise.

Because audience members are just as much a part of this mystery, because for this short time, they, too, knew Lafferty. But they, too, are clueless about the cause of death.

So, it’s best not to worry about it. Just pull a joke from the jar Father Pettigrew offers to you, dance or sing along when asked and be ready to laugh at every turn.

Because Lafferty was a great guy, and his wake is meant to be fun.

This is why it takes place at Rory’s Pub.

But it would be so much better if Lafferty were there.

If only.

  • CAST: Brian Breen, Rory Finn; Dave Besse, Terrence Pettigrew; Nancy Litton, Kathleen Lafferty (nee O’Donnell); Michele Taylor, Margaret “Maggie” Clancy (nee Lafferty); Sam Bryan, Patrick Clancy; Suzanne Besse, Molly Greaney; Dale Aguilllard, Lafferty-of-Old; Lynn Noland, Messenger.
  • ARTISTIC STAFF: Dale Aguillard, co-director; Jack Wilson, co-director, lighting designer; Brian Sheen, musical director, sound designer; Suzanne Besse, props; Lynn Noland, stage manager, lights.