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Interactive comedy ‘Flanagan’s Wake’ opens June 13 at The Phipps

In a rehearsal scene of ”Flanagan’s Wake,” are, from left, Mother Flanagan (George Gfall of New Richmond), Fiona Finn (Kris Eklund from Mahtomedi), Mayor Martin O'Doul (Dan Bushman, Hudson), Kathleen Mooney (Barbara Gagliardi, Hudson), Brian Ballybunion (Josiah Rice of Beloit), Father Damon Fitzgerald (Scott Peterson, Hudson), and Mickey Finn (Matt Okoneski of Maplewood). (Submitted photo)

”Flanagan’s Wake,” an interactive comedy, will be performed June 13 through the 29 at The Phipps Center for the Arts.

This outrageous play with music transports audiences to the fictional village of Grapplin, County Sligo, Ireland, where local roustabout Flanagan has died and his closest friends have come together to grieve as only the Irish can.

The audience is invited to participate in this partially improvised comedic memorial with plenty of pints, crazy sing-a-longs, and witty tales based on suggestions from those gathered. Audience members can share tales of their own experiences and misadventures with dear old Flanagan or simply enjoy the stories and songs of the locals as they recall life with “himself.”

Once the mourners arrive at the pub, they will pay their respects to glowering Mother Flanagan (George Gfall of New Richmond) and the poor grieving fiancee, Fiona Finn (Kris Eklund from Mahtomedi, Minn.) The vibrant Mickey Finn (Matt Okoneski of Maplewood, Minn.) will give the eulogy. All will tip a pint with Brian Ballybunion (Josiah Rice of Beloit), himself a weaver of tales.

Mourners can cross themselves with the blessings from St. Gregory’s parish priest, Father Damon Fitzgerald (Scott Peterson, Hudson), or cross their fingers that local pagan Kathleen Mooney (Barbara Gagliardi, Hudson) doesn’t cast a spell on them. Mayor Martin O’Doul (Dan Bushman, Hudson) presides over the proceedings with an iron hand, while lively Tara O’Doul (Rachel Seeley of Woodbury) provides piano accompaniment.

Director Scott Novotny takes on the job of bringing this different kind of show to The Phipps stage.  He is a versatile performer who headlines comedy clubs throughout the United States; worked as an improvisational actor/writer at Dudley Riggs’ Brave New Workshop; owned and operated The Comedy Cabaret in Minneapolis; and has written for “Saturday Night Live.”

Gagliardi commented on the rehearsal process, “I would like to say that rehearsals are wonderful with Scott at the helm. He is positive, relaxing, and very creative. He is filling us with ideas constantly.”

Nine performances will be given June 13 through the 29 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., as well as Sundays at 2:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theater.

This play contains situations and language which some may find offensive. Tickets are $24 and $17 for students of all ages, with a $2 discount for seniors on the Sunday matinees. Reservations may be made by contacting The Phipps ticket office at (715) 386-8409 or online at

Champagne brunch cruise and theater packages are available for the Sunday matinees. Reservations may be made by contacting Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines at (651) 436-8883 or online at