Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Connecticut Critics Circle Nominee Jarlath Conroy and Howard Platt Star in A Couple of Blaguards at Long Wharf Theatre, May 21 – June 2, 2013

Congratulations to Jarlath Conroy, recently nominated for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play” by the Connecticut Critics Circle, for his role as the Grave Digger in Yale Rep’s production of Hamlet, opposite Paul Giamatti.

Jarlath Conroy as the Gravedigger and Paul Giamatti as Hamlet in Yale Rep's production of Hamlet. Photo by Joan Marcus

Jarlath Conroy as the Gravedigger and Paul Giamatti as Hamlet in Yale Rep’s production of Hamlet. Photo by Joan Marcus

Conroy is currently starring in the critically acclaimed two-hander A Couple of Blaguards, with Howard Platt on Stage II at Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive in New Haven, CT, through June 2, 2013.

A Couple of Blaguards, produced by Steve McGraw and directed by Platt, is an uproarious comedy from Frank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Angela’s Ashes” and his brother, the raconteur and actor Malachy McCourt, author of the bestseller “A Monk Swimming,” is the first show of its summer season, which began performances on May 21, 2013. Performances are Tuesday, May 28 at 7pm, Wednesday, May 29 at 2pm and 7pm, Thursday, May 30 at 8pm, June 1 at 3pm and 8pm. Tickets are $40. Click here to purchase tickets visit or call 203-787-4282.

Howard Platt and Jarlath Conroy in A Couple of Blaguards. Photo by David Allen

Howard Platt and Jarlath Conroy in A Couple of Blaguards. Photo by David Allen

Written by Frank McCourt, who is best known for his novel “Angela’s Ashes,” and his brother, the actor and writer Malachy McCourt, A Couple of Blaguards tells the brothers tales of boyhood in Limerick and early adulthood as immigrants in New York. Filled with humor and pathos, A Couple of Blaguards, shows that the best way to deal with the misadventures of adulthood is to laugh at life’s absurdities. A Couple of Blaguards is a bubbling stew of McCourt humor with dashes of poignancy to sharpen the flavor.

“[A Couple of Blaguards is] wonderful entertainment, richly laced with laughter and borne aloft by two outsized, quixotic performances that would charm the socks off any self-respecting leprechaun,” said the Hamilton Spectator. “Conroy and Platt are so good at conveying the hearts and minds of the rascally McCourts that they take what might be a simply pleasant evening of Irish poetry, recollection and song, and turn it into fully fleshed drama.”

A Couple of Blaguards, with Howard Platt and Jarlath Conroy as the lads, is so funny and plays so well in the mind’s eye that it isn’t until you’re half-way out the door that you realize how tough and unsentimental it is. The boys have seen so much that there can be no more tears: All that’s left to do really is laugh and keep moving,” said Variety.

The show predates either of the McCourt brothers’ most famous works, “Angela’s Ashes” and “A Monk Swimming.” “Malachy stood behind the bar and told his customers stories. I stood before the blackboard and told my students stories. At holiday gatherings we told our families stories. They said, “Why not get together, cobble these stories into a script and tell the world,” Frank McCourt said.

The brothers performed a meandering iteration of the show in the late 1970s for the amusement of family and friends. In 1984 they decided to solidify the show, performing at the Village Vanguard in New York City.

“This show is the result of Frank and myself listening to the stories of our elders which in turn tunes the ear, the eye and the tongue to observe and give voice to even the most trivial of events. I think we had more fun than anyone writing and performing Blaguards which has become an affectionate term for the rowdy outgoing and sometimes drinking sort boys,” Malachy McCourt said.


Jarlath Conroy. Photo by Lia Chang

Jarlath Conroy. Photo by Lia Chang

Jarlath Conroy (Frank McCourt) recently appeared as the Grave Digger in Yale Rep’s production of Hamlet, opposite Paul Giamatti, for which he was nominated by the Connecticut Critics Circle for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play”. Yale Rep’s Hamlet also received 3 other nominations including “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play” for Paul Giamatti, “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play” for Marc Kudish, “Outstanding Sound Design” for Keri Klick. The winners will be announced in advance of a small ceremony on Monday, June 10, 2013, at 6:30PM at Long Wharf Theatre.

Jarlath Conroy and Paul Giamatti celebrate at opening night party of Yale Rep's Hamlet in New Haven, CT on March 21, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Jarlath Conroy and Paul Giamatti celebrate at opening night party of Yale Rep’s Hamlet in New Haven, CT on March 21, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

He was in A Couple of Blaguards at the Triad Theater in New York City. His Broadway credits include: The Seagull,The Weir, The Iceman Cometh, On The Waterfront, Ghetto, The Visit, Philadelphia Here I Come!, Comedians. Off-Broadway: The Coward, A Man of No Importance at Lincoln Center, Our Lady of Sligo, A Life, Pigtown at The Irish Repertory Theater, also Gardenia, Translations at Manhattan Theater Club, and The Matchmaker, Playboy of the Western World at The Roundabout Theater. Regional roles include: Max in The Homecoming, Drumm in Hugh Leonard’s Da at the Guthrie Theater, Thomas Dunne in Sebastian Barry’s The Steward of Christendom (Barrymore Award), Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Uncle Sid in Ah, Wilderness!, Fluther in The Plough and the Stars, Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Frank in Faith Healer, Fluellen in Henry V (Helen Hayes Award nomination), Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind, Joxer in Juno and the Paycock (Helen Hayes Award). He was in Cromwell and Hamlet at the Royal Court in London. TV and film: “Law and Order”, “NYPD Blue”, “Law and Order: Criminal Intent”, “The Beat”, “Summer”, “A Marriage: O’Keeffe and Stieglitz”, “The Elephant Man”, “True Grit”, “The Art of Getting By”, “Heaven’s Gate”, George Romero’s “Day of the Dead”, “Kinsey” and “Stay”. His directing credits include True West and Human Resources.

Howard Platt

Howard Platt

Howard Platt (Malachy McCourt, Director) is a show business veteran of more than 35 years. As an actor he has appeared in at least 100 plays assuming the roles of everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Santa Claus to Frank McCourt. He has made numerous comedic and dramatic appearances on television and is best known for his roles as Hoppy the Cop on “Sanford and Son,” Dr. Phil Newman on “The Bob Newhart Show”, Marvin on “Alice” and Judge Jonathan Stockfish on “Evening Shade.” As a series regular he played Captain Doug March on “Flying High” (with Connie Sellecca, Pat Klous and Katherine Witt), Roger Martinson, Esq. on “Empire” and Raymond Peterson on “Me, On The Radio?,” with Sally Struthers. His many movie roles include The Rock and Norma Jean & Marilyn. Mr. Platt has directed a dozen shows including A Couple of Blaguards, Don’t Dress For Dinner, Pump Boys And Dinettes, Love Letters and Steel Magnolias. Among the 20 shows Platt was involved in producing in Chicago with Cullen, Henaghan and Platt, his association with Robert Whitehead during the first Broadway Alliance production, Steve Tesich’s Speed Of Darkness, was a theatrical high point, exceeded only by his long friendship with Frank McCourt and brother Malachy.

Steve McGraw (Producer)
Steve McGraw has presented some of Off-Broadway’s longest running hits at his cabaret theatre in Manhattan. Among them are Forbidden Broadway, Forever Plaid and A Couple of Blaguards. His teleplay “Miles from Nowhere,” an autobiographical family drama, was produced by New World International, and starred Rick Schroder and James Farentino. It first aired on CBS, and won a Christopher Award for writing. The story was also published by William Morrow as a novel called “Totaled.” His screenplay, Pendragon, won in the action/adventure category at The Breckenridge Film Festival. His most recent script, Jimmy Nolan is in pre-production. It will be directed by Jeff McCracken, produced by Matt Salinger. Steve is a graduate of Notre Dame University.

Frank McCourt taught high school and college English for three decades in New York and occasionally, Dublin. Frank’s memoir, “Angela’s Ashes”, published in September of 1996 by Scribner, was honored with The Pulitzer Prize for literature, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Boston Book Review’s Non-Fiction prize, the Abbey Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. His second book, “Tis”, another bestseller, was released in the fall of 1999. A major motion picture based on “Angela’s Ashes” starring Emily Watson and Robert Carlisle premiered late the same year. McCourt died in 2009.

Malachy McCourt was born in Brooklyn, USA and from the age of three was raised in Limerick, Ireland. A very undistinguished academic career plus the need to eat led him to leave school at the age of thirteen to begin work in Ireland and England as a laborer. He returned to the land of his birth at the age of twenty and again worked at the manual tasks such as longshoreman, truck loader, dishwasher, until he became an actor. That career took him to Broadway and Off-Broadway and regional theatres in plays such as Mass Appeal, DA, The Hostage, Inherit the Wind, Carousel and Translations. The soap operas such a “Ryan’s Hope”, “Search for Tomorrow”, “One Life to Live” were also a good source of work and sustenance as were the movies Molly Maguires, She’s the One, The Devils Own, Green Card, and TV movies such a “You Can’t Go Home Again” and the “Dain Curse”. Due to a heavy schedule of writing, book signings and public appearances, McCourt had to take a sabbatical from the acting trade but is now back after completing five movies Happy Hour, Guru of Sex, Gods and Generals, The Last Run and Ash Wednesday plus a running part in the HBO prison series “Oz”. In the early seventies he was one of the first radio talk show hosts on WMCA, NYC, a lively and controversial time of his life and he was a frequent guest on the “Tonight Show”, “Merv Griffin” and “Tom Snyder” shows. Along with the above, Malachy McCourt has been credited with founding the first singles bar in America, Malachy’s of Third Avenue. As well as being the co-author of the play A Couple of Blaguards with his brother Frank, Malachy has written his own New York Times bestseller memoir, “A Monk Swimming”, published by Hyperion Press. His most recent memoir, “Singing My Him Song”, now out in paperback is published by Harper Collins. Malachy’s new books are: “Danny Boy, a history of the song Danny Boy”; “Voices of Ireland”, an anthology of Irish literature; “History of the Claddheh Ring”; and a book of affirmations, “Harold B Thy Name”. Malachy writes a column, “Sez I to Myself”, that appears weekly in the Manhattan Spirit, The Westsider and Our Town in NYC. Malachy McCourt is happily married to Diana for three and one half decades, has five grown children and is grandfather to three. He owes a great deal to his friend Bill W.

Lia Chang. Photo by Bruce Alan Johnson

Lia Chang. Photo by Bruce Alan Johnson

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. This summer she will appear as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Penwah, July 30-August 1, 2013.

Other Articles by Lia Chang
Paul Giamatti Leads Yale Rep’s Production of Hamlet, March 15-April 13, 2013
Jarlath Conroy set for Shakespeare Theatre Company’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, June 12–July 15, 2012 at Sidney Harman Hall in Washington D.C.
Jarlath Conroy in the CENTERSTAGE Production of The Homecoming
Jarlath Conroy Leads Cast of Pinter’s The Homecoming at CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore
Jarlath Conroy in The SEAGULL
Lorey Hayes’ Power Play Set for National Black Theatre Festival 7/30-8/1
Ghostlight Records Releases ‘Giant’ Original Cast Album Featuring Kate Baldwin, Brian d’Arcy James, P.J. Griffith, Raul Aranas, Katie Thompson and more
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party
Here Lies Love, Starring Jose Llana and Ruthie Ann Miles, Extends at The Public through July 28, 2013
Two-Time Tony Nominee André De Shields, Nehal Joshi, Akash Chopra and More Set for Mary Zimmerman helmed The Jungle Book at The Goodman, 6/21-8/4 and The Huntington, 9/7-10/6
Jeanne Sakata’s critically-acclaimed play Hold These Truths, starring 2013 Drama Desk Award Nominee Joel de la Fuente, is set for the 10th Annual soloNOVA Arts Festival at Culture Project, 6/4, 6/10 and 6/11
Photos: Working Theater’s World Premiere of Ed Cardona, Jr.’s La Ruta
Photos: All-Access Pass to August Wilson’s Two Trains Running with John Earl Jelks, Harvy Blanks, Chuck Cooper, Anthony Chisholm, Owiso Odera, Roslyn Ruff and James A. Williams
Photos: Maurice Hines, Jonathan Groff, Mercedes Ellington, Charles Randolph Wright at The Beechman for André De Shields’s I PUT A SPELL ON YOU
Albee, Hwang, Enos, Taylor, Wilson, Clarke and Jacobs-Jenkins Set for Signature Theatre’s 2013-14 Season
Photos: David Henry Hwang’s The Dance and The Railroad Opening Night at Signature Theatre
Photos: Partying with the Cast of David Henry Hwang’s Golden Child
Tony Award Winner Tonya Pinkins Celebrates Ethel Waters at 54 Below on August 27, 2012
Photos: All-Access Pass to Disney’s Aladdin at The Muny with Thom Sesma, Francis Jue, Robin De Jesus, John Tartaglia, Jason Graae, Curtis Holbrook, Eddie Korbich, Samantha Massell and Ken Page
Photos and Video: Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas- In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

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