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City of Irish love

On stage: Holmesburg resident Michael Toner stars in Molly Sweeney at Walnut Street Theatre. Performances will continue through Oct. 15. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Philadelphia’s only professional theater company dedicated to preserving classic Irish and Irish-American theater while presenting it to new audiences will open its next feature production, Brian Friel’s Molly Sweeney, on Friday, Sept. 30, at Walnut Street Theatre’s Studio 5, 825 Walnut St.

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Performances will continue through Oct. 15. A preview will be staged on Sept. 29.

After producing critically acclaimed productions of Friel’s Philadelphia Here I Come!, followed by A Night with Lady Gregory and the famed O’Casey Trilogy, The Irish Heritage Theatre returns to Friel, whom many consider one of the greatest among Irish-American playwrights.

The company is raising its game by casting its first Equity actor — Holmesburg resident Michael Toner — who specializes in his portrayals of Irish characters and is a veteran of the Walnut stage. Over the last year, Toner has fought back from a devastating roadway accident and has returned to full strength.

Also, Molly will be the company’s first Barrymore Award-eligible production.

Peggy Mecham will direct the play, which will also star company regulars Ethan Lipkin and Kirsten Quinn, a Rhawnhurst native. The drama centers on three subtly crafted characters who tell their carefully interwoven stories in direct addresses to the audience.

There’s Molly, a woman who has been blind since infancy but nevertheless has grown self-assured and at one with her world. When Molly’s husband, Frank, discovers an opportunity for her sight to be partially restored by Mr. Rice, a once-famous ophthalmologist, they decide to take the plunge into an unknown frontier, changing their lives forever.

Performances are scheduled Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets costs $25 for general admission, $20 for senior citizens and $15 for students, theater industry members and groups of 10 or more.

Visit irishheritagetheatre.org for ticket purchases, Funsaver discounts and production information. ••

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