Allen Contemporary Theatre invites audiences to take part in their latest production, “Flanagan’s Wake”

Allen Contemporary Theatre brings the hilarious improv-focused “Flanagan’s Wake” to the stage for a three-week run.

Allen Contemporary Theatre "Flanagan's Wake"
A photo of the cast of “Flanagan’s Wake” – Pictures courtesy of Allen Contemporary Theatre

As soon as you meet the cast of the latest production at Allen Contemporary Theatre, it’ll feel like you’ve known them for years. You’ll have the chance to reconnect with familiar faces like Mickey Finn, Declan Faloon and Brian Ballybunion. If none of those names ring a bell, don’t fret. The cast of “Flanagan’s Wake” won’t hesitate to welcome you into the theater to pay respects to the departed Flanagan and share a pint of Guinness in this aptly timed St. Patrick’s Day comedy.

Running from March 15-31, Allen Contemporary Theatre bills “Flanagan’s Wake” as a “hilariously interactive Irish wake.” The two-act show invites audiences to hear the tales of the people of Grapplin, County Silgo, Ireland as they honor the deceased Flanagan, who died in an awfully bizarre manner suggested by the audience, and bicker about the land he left behind.

In other words, this is anything but your typical wake. The production features a wide range of colorful characters who work hard to be ready for just about anything the audience throws at them as the night goes on, albeit within the PG-13 rating. The theater notes the show includes “alcohol consumption, mild language, irreverent religious humor and mild sexual innuendo.”

“It’s a very funny show,” Director Eric Levy said. Levy is certainly no stranger to “Flanagan’s Wake” either. The former litigation attorney and UK theater teacher starred in the production four nights a week for almost a full year. He played a variety of different roles within the show during his time in an ongoing production in the Chicago suburb of St. Charles, Illinois. In fact, the show is perhaps best known as one of the longest-running on Chicago stages, but now it makes a rare Texas appearance thanks to Levy and Allen Contemporary Theatre.

Levy explained that as soon as audiences enter the lobby for “Flanagan’s Wake,” they’ll find themselves greeted by many of the characters within the show and given a nametag with their Irish-inspired name for the night. They’ll also have the chance to purchase Guinness from the concession stand before they enter the theater for the wake. “It’s designed to sort of warm them up and get them in the mood to contribute,” Levy said.

Allen Contemporary Theatre "Flanagan's Wake"
Audiences will have a chance to purchase a Guinness of their own at the theater.

From there, audiences will hear comedic stories throughout the wake, and even a few improvised songs, as the ensemble cast pulls some of the attendees up to the stage to help with different parts of the proceedings.

Levy said he cast the show with a focus on finding actors who would “give it their all” and “roll with the punches” that come with improv and live audience participation. He said his past experience with the show and personal background in improv help him spot some of the “pitfalls” within the show and aid the actors who have less experience in improv.

He told every actor they should practice at least 15-20 minutes a day at home with someone giving them different prompts or suggestions “so it becomes muscle memory almost,” and they know the process to go through when they need to give an improvised response. “I can make suggestions till I’m blue in the face and I’ll always be able to come up with something, but when you have an audience that’s unpredictable, that’s where the challenge is,” Levy said.

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Levy is eager to have the opportunity to get the cast in front of audiences. He hopes the show’s humor leaves audiences wanting to come back for more, especially as certain elements of the show will naturally change each night during its three-week run depending on the different responses from attendees.  “We want them to enjoy it and we want them to come back,” Levy said.

The Allen Contemporary Theatre production of “Flanagan’s Wake” runs from March 15-31. For more information, including how to purchase tickets, visit

This interview has been edited for clarity.


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