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Review Roundup: OUTSIDE MULLINGAR Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!

Manhattan Theatre Club's world premiere production of Outside Mullingar, the new play by Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner John Patrick Shanley, directed by Tony Award winner Doug Hughes, opens tonight, January 23 at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) in a strictly limited 11-week engagement.

OUTSIDE MULLINGAR features Tony Award winner Brian F. O'Byrne, Emmy Award winner Debra Messing, Peter Maloney (The Cripple of Inishmaan, Dinner at Eight), and Dearbhla Molloy (Dancing at Lughnasa, Arcadia at London's Haymarket Theatre).

Tony winner Brian F. O'Byrne (Frozen, Doubt, Million Dollar Baby) and Emmy winner Debra Messing ("Will & Grace," "Smash," Collected Stories) play Anthony and Rosemary, two introverted misfits straddling 40. With Anthony's father threatening to disinherit him and a land feud simmering between their families, Rosemary has every reason to fear romantic catastrophe. But then, in this very Irish story with a surprising depth of poetic passion, these yearning, eccentric souls fight their way towards solid ground and some kind of happiness.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: The wait proves to be a wholly diverting one in "Outside Mullingar," which represents Mr. Shanley's finest work since "Doubt," the winner of both the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 2005. This isn't to suggest that they are equally sturdy or significant plays. For all its satisfactions - which include supporting performances to savor from the wonderful Peter Maloney and Dearbhla Molloy - "Outside Mullingar" is a lighter, slighter play, a softhearted comedy freckled with dark reflections on the unsatisfactory nature of life and the thorns of love. But Mr. Shanley's lyrical writing, and the flawless production, directed by Doug Hughes forManhattan Theater Club, give such consistent pleasure that even though we know the equations that define romcoms will add up to the familiar sums, we are happy to watch as they do.

Matt Windman, AM New York: While the play itself is meandering and uneventful, it opens up considerably in the heartwarming final scene where Anthony and Rosemary finally connect in spite of their hesitations and quirks. It serves as a hearty payoff after over an hour of straight boredom. Messing, who is making her Broadway debut, has noticeable difficulty handling an Irish accent but still manages to make her character sympathetic and endearing. Byrne, who originated the role of Father Flynn in "Doubt," foregoes his charismatic intensity and makes for an unexpectedly cute and quirky counterpart to Messing.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: Hitting a sweet spot that recalls his Oscar-winning screenplay for Moonstruck, John Patrick Shanley's Outside Mullingar is a charmer of a play about a hesitant romance stalled by petty grievances and misunderstandings. Unapologetic sentimentality without too much treacle isn't easy to do, but the playwright pulls it off with confidence...While Messing's accent is not the most consistent, she's both feisty and funny here, not to mention the picture of a red-haired Irish country rose. She nails all the contradictions in depressed Rosemary's antagonistic approach to Anthony, while steadily opening a window to the longing that's been simmering inside her for years. O'Byrne is superb as a man imprisoned by his own nervousness and lack of self-worth.

Robert Kahn, NBC New York: Debra Messing, a nice Jewish girl, slides effortlessly into a foursome of otherwise Irish actors in the wistful "Outside Mullingar," a new romantic comedy - that is, by the time it resolves an identity crisis - from award-winning writer John Patrick Shanley ("Doubt")...That Messing makes for a fine ensemble actress is hardly astounding...What is surprising is how convincingly she plays an Irishwoman in her Broadway debut...The erratic, or at least elastic nature of the script almost doesn't matter, though, because the dialogue is so colorful (the college-aged victims of an auto wreck are said to be found with a "badger licking the blood" off their bodies - hey, this is an Irish play) and the acting so sharp, that the 95-minute, intermission-less rom-com, or whatever-this-is, seems to fly by.

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