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Pat Kight says her friend Harriet Owen-Nixon enjoys getting people together at her house to read plays aloud. Theater projects often come as a result.

John Patrick Shanley's "Outside Mullingar" is the most recent example.

"That's what happened with this play. We got together and fell in love with it," Kight said. "Let's see what we can do to make this happen."

Kight and Owen-Nixon are teaming with other friends and mid-valley theater veterans Charlotte Jane Headrick, Rick Wallace and Paul Watts on the play. The first of four performances opens Friday night at Corvallis High School's Black Box Theater.

Kight, who is directing the play, said audience members may be more familiar with Shanley's other works. He wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay for "Moonstruck," and his play "Doubt, A Parable" won a Pulitzer Prize for drama and a Tony Award in 2005. Shanley also wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay.

"Outside Mullingar" is a bittersweet comedy, Kight said. It will be performed in a reader's theater style by the actors.

The play is set in rural Ireland, outside the city of Mullingar. Two families, the Muldoons, mother Aoife (Headrick) and daughter Rosemary (Owen-Nixon), and the Reillys, father Tony (Wallace) and son Anthony (Watts), live on adjoining farms. The parents are aging and the children are in middle age.

"There is a property dispute involved that's gone back decades," Kight said.

Aoife Muldoon's husband has died, and the story begins as the Muldoons are just returning from his funeral. They have been invited to a gathering after the funeral at another neighbor's house.

That is when the tale of property disputes and grudges held for decades is revealed.

"And a romance that's been trying to happen, but has been blocked by these disputes," Kight said.

The play features full costumes, makeup and a little music. 

The production has two Corvallis High School students helping as its crew.

Alyeska Reimer is working as the stage manager and Jess Joseph is handling the lighting.

"It's great for them to be involved on a production that doesn't swallow their lives, and we really enjoy working with them," Kight said.

All proceeds from the play will be donated to the Corvallis School District high school drama program.

Kight thinks characters Aoife Muldoon and Tony Reilly will appeal to older audiences.

"These are people towards the end of their lives, but they are still vital and cantankerous," she said.

The director said the play is funny, sweet, sad, and a love story comes out of it.

"No one is going to walk away crying, though they may shed a tear along the way," Kight said.

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