Madison Miller / staff photo
                                “The Seafarer” is a chilling play, infused with dark humor, about the sea, Ireland, and the power of myth. From left, Michael Murdock, Peter Cook, Brenden Elwood and René Schuchter.

Madison Miller / staff photo “The Seafarer” is a chilling play, infused with dark humor, about the sea, Ireland, and the power of myth. From left, Michael Murdock, Peter Cook, Brenden Elwood and René Schuchter.

“The Seafarer” set to debut at Valley Center Stage

Jim Snyder directs the chilling Irish play.

It’s Christmas Eve in Dublin. The recently sober James “Sharky” Harkin has returned to Dublin to care for his aging, cantankerous brother, Richard, who’s recently gone blind. To celebrate the holiday, Richard invites his old drinking buddies and a mysterious stranger for a night of drinking and playing cards. However, the mysterious stranger has more in sight than the winnings of a few Irish drunkards. A player may be playing for his very soul.

Brought to life by five local actors, audiences can follow the cards of fate in “The Seafarer” at Valley Center Stage.

Valley Center Stage’s artistic director Jim Snyder is also the director for the production. “The Seafarer’’ is “not your typical play,” according to Snyder.

“I’ve always loved Irish stories, and this one is one of the best [stories] I’ve heard in a while,” he said.

Snyder said the story poses the question of “who’s worthy of being loved?” As the five characters in the play depict slovenly, miserable drunkards, he said the story shines a light on the value of a person as well as who is worthy of redemption.

Brenden Elwood stars as Mr. Lockhart — one of the card players. Elwood has been a part of Valley Center Stage for many years and was the one who first suggested “The Seafarer” for production.

“The show is just too good to pass up,” he said. “This [play] explores the depths and levels of the characters as they find themselves in a crossroads…it’s just fascinating.”

Other members of the cast agreed with Elwood’s sentiment. Peter Cook, who plays James “Sharky” Harkin, said he’s enjoyed learning more and more about his character.

“There’s nothing like discovering a character and how they serve the story,” he said.

Elwood said he and the rest of the cast strived to portray their characters to be as real and as believable as possible—all while speaking in thick Irish accents.

Michael Murdock plays Richard Harkin, the blind card game organizer. Preparing for his role, he said, came with some challenges.

“The script is written very differently compared to other plays,” he said. “This one, the dialogue is written to be casual, conversational — with all the ‘ums’ and regular conversation interruptions. It’s written to be as realistic as possible and it’s difficult to memorize lines.”

Portraying a blind man also proved to be a challenge for Murdock. “I always have to remember not to make eye contact with anyone,” he said. “But, it’s made it a lot easier to listen.”

“The Seafarer” opens Friday, March 29, and runs until Saturday, April 13. The all-volunteer cast and crew said they feel relaxed and excited for opening night.

The entire cast, including Snyder, have all worked together throughout many productions in the past.

Murdock, Cook, Elwood and Snyder said they’ve enjoyed working together on this production.

“It’s always really rewarding to be working with these guys,” Murdock said.

“I know everyone here and we always have so much fun together,” Cook said.

“It’s nice to work with these guys because they are all talented and really love what they’re doing,” Elwood said.

Elwood and Snyder encourage audiences to come see the show.

“The classics are always fun, but we encourage you to come out and support a show you may not recognize,” Elwood said. “Local theatre is so vital to a community, and we want to provide a variety of shows for our audiences to enjoy.”

“The Seafarer” opens March 29 at Valley Center Stage in North Bend. Tickets are $18 for general admission, and $14 for seniors and students. Thursday shows are pay-what-you-will. Tickets may be pre-purchased online at http://bit.ly/2SbBFeN or purchased at the door.

To learn more about Valley Center Stage, go online to http://valleycenterstage.org/.

The cast of “The Seafarer” rehearse for the upcoming opening performance on March 29. From left: Michael Murdock, Peter Cook, Brenden Elwood and René Schuchter. Madison Miller / staff photo

The cast of “The Seafarer” rehearse for the upcoming opening performance on March 29. From left: Michael Murdock, Peter Cook, Brenden Elwood and René Schuchter. Madison Miller / staff photo

Madison Miller / staff photo
                                Valley Center Stage presents “The Seafarer” March 29-April 13. From left, René Schuchter, Peter Cook, Jim Snyder and Michael Murdock.

Madison Miller / staff photo Valley Center Stage presents “The Seafarer” March 29-April 13. From left, René Schuchter, Peter Cook, Jim Snyder and Michael Murdock.

Director Jim Snyder stands in for one of the cast members during rehearsal of “The Seafarer.” From left: René Schuchter, Michael Murdock, Jim Snyder, Peter Cook and Brenden Elwood. Madison Miller / staff photo

Director Jim Snyder stands in for one of the cast members during rehearsal of “The Seafarer.” From left: René Schuchter, Michael Murdock, Jim Snyder, Peter Cook and Brenden Elwood. Madison Miller / staff photo

Michael Murdock and Peter Cook rehearse for “The Seafarer” at Valley Center Stage. Madison Miller / staff photo

Michael Murdock and Peter Cook rehearse for “The Seafarer” at Valley Center Stage. Madison Miller / staff photo

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