Molly Ban


YOU could say that Sunday night's US debut of Brian Friel's Molly Sweeny on Broadway was slightly upstaged by the spectacle that out dazzled not only New York's theatres but the entire city itself. The biggest blizzard in recent history closed airports, rendered highways impassable and sent taxis skidding helplessly into snow drifts.

But as the white streets grew silent and empty, the show, as they say, had to go on. Producer Manny Azenburg's brainwave of putting tickets on sale as soon as the invited guests started phoning in their cancellations paid off, over 100 seats were filled - that way.

Among those who enjoyed the ante snowfall previews were most of the New York critics, luckily, and luminaries such as Robert Redford, Whoopi Goldberg, Carol King and Stephen Rea. In terms of celebration, Molly broke with tradition by holding no official opening night party - almost unheard of on Broadway. A special opening night reception was thrown on Thursday 4th by Aer Lingus, who sponsored the production but after the opening itself, the crowd dispersed and a small group which included cast members, as well as Seamus Heaney and some Broadway personalities, retreated to a restaurant nearby for a low key gathering. The reviews were duly brought in and while Mr Canby of the New York Times was wavering, adjectives such as "beautiful and dazzling", "luminous" and "poignant" abounded elsewhere; the Associated Press called it a "heartfelt story", The Washington Post waxed lyrical, as the did the showbusiness bible, Variety.

The show is due to have a 10 week run.