Debra Messing to Make Broadway Debut in 'Outside Mullingar'

Debra Messing

The "Smash" star returns to the New York stage in John Patrick Shanley's new play, appearing opposite Tony winner Brian F. O'Byrne.

NEW YORK -- Debra Messing and Brian F. O'Byrne will star early next year in the Broadway world premiere of Outside Mullingar, the new Irish romantic comedy by John Patrick Shanley, the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning author of Doubt.

The production reunites Shanley, an Oscar winner for his screenplay of Moonstruck, with O'Byrne and director Doug Hughes, both of whom collaborated with the playwright on Doubt. It also marks a return to Manhattan Theatre Club, which premiered that chamber drama in 2004 in its Off Broadway venue before it transferred to Broadway and became the season's major awards magnet.

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In Shanley's new work, O'Byrne and Messing will play withdrawn eccentrics who have spent their lives on neighboring properties in rural Ireland, where a simmering feud between the two families threatens to keep the timid souls apart.

The playwright's tenth production at MTC, Outside Mullingar is described in a release from the company as "a compassionate, delightful play about how it's never too late to take a chance on love. It's kind of an Irish Moonstruck."

It begins previews for a limited 11-week engagement on Jan. 2 at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, with opening night set for Jan. 23.

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Messing has a history with MTC, having last appeared on a New York stage in the company's 1997 Off Broadway production of Donald Margulies ' Collected Stories. Since then she went on to wider recognition in eight seasons of the popular NBC sitcom Will & Grace, for which she won an Emmy Award. She more recently appeared in two season's of the same network's now-canceled musical drama, Smash.

O'Byrne won a Tony Award for featured actor in a play in 2004 for Frozen. He was also nominated for Doubt, The Coast of Utopia, The Lonesome West and The Beauty Queen of Leenane. His television work includes NBC's Prime Suspect, ABC's Flash Forward, Showtime's Brotherhood, and an Emmy-nominated role in HBO's Mildred Pierce.

Additional cast and creative team for Outside Mullingar are to be announced.