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March 12, 2012 - Metro Community News - Finnegan's Farewell

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Lancaster- With only six performances and three of them already sold out, tickets for the Lancaster Regional Players production of "Finnegan's Farewell," an interactive comedy, are flying out the door.

Tickets to the show are currently available for 7 p.m. Friday, March 16; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 18; and 7 p.m. Friday, March 23. This is a dinner theater show and it will be held at Ripa's Restaurant, located at 4218 Walden Ave., Lancaster. Ticket prices are $48, which includes dinner, dessert, coffee and tea, tax and gratuity. A cash bar will be available.

The show is centered on saying goodbye to Patrick James Finnegan, a mailman who won $2.5 million playing the slots at Atlantic City and then quickly dropped dead. Audience members will eat, drink and be merry with Paddy's family at this authentic Irish-American wake, complete with traditional Irish drinking songs and some lively step dancing.

The Lancaster Regional Players began performing Finnegan's Farewell 10 years ago and it is still a hit among audience members. It's staged just as if you're going to a typical Irish wake. From the moment patrons walk in, they become attendees at this event. And they can participate as much or as little as they want.

Lockport resident, Al McFadyen, who plays the crazy Father Seamus McMurphy, has been with the show since the beginning.

"I will continue to be Father Seamus McMurphy as long as I am able to and as long as the show goes on. It still amazes me that we have been doing this show for 10 years," remarked McFadyen.

McFadyen added he thinks the show strikes a chord with people. People can relate to it, as well as to some of the incidents that occur throughout the show.

"Most people know that the old style Irish wake was always a rip roaring setting, where people had fun and enjoyed themselves. It wasn't meant to be a sad thing. The Irish looked down on that. They felt that if the person was happy and joyful in life. They should be happy and joyful in death. The funeral part, which is the beginning, is probably one of most comical funerals anybody could ever attend," said McFadyen.

No two dinner theater shows are the same, said McFadyen. There are always little things that happen that change what a character might say because not everything in the show is scripted. For instance, there are times he will sing a different song or tell a different joke.

Even though, McFadyen has been playing Father Seamus McMurphy for several years now, he mentioned the role he is better known for performing as Franklin D. Roosevelt.

"I am FDR to a lot of people," said McFadyen.

In fact, McFadyen has his own show, which has been known under two names, "I Remember FDR" or "FDR: Nothing to Fear." In 2006, McFadyen presented his program at the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, FDR's home town, in Hyde Park, N.Y.

"It was quite an honor to present my program, which details FDR's presidential years, knowing that just a few yards away Eleanor and Franklin are buried," commented McFadyen.

McFadyen was also chosen by Ken Burns, who produces PBS documentaries, to be the voice of FDR on the film called "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," which was on national television. In 2013, McFadyen will be credited with part in another Burn's documentary called the "Roosevelt's."

Now, that McFadyen will be retiring from his full-time job he would like to take his show to schools, universities, and theaters.

"It's living American history. My Roosevelt not only speaks, but sings songs from the period. I did some research and Roosevelt actually did sing. It makes the program very interesting," remarked McFadyen.

McFadyen has been performing for a number of years now, which has brought him to the Lancaster Opera House stage several times. He was in the production of "Hello Dolly!" "Carousel," "Oklahoma," "Annie," and "The Wizard of Oz."

The cast of Finnegan's Farewell also includes: Eileen Stevic, June Caputi, Ron Ruggiero, Melissa Cumming, and Bill Kennedy.

For tickets to "Finnegan's Farewell" call the Lancaster Opera House Box Office at 683-1776. The box office is opened from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Lancaster Regional Players, PO Box 51, Lancaster, NY  14086