The Times photo by Betsy ReasonDoug Stanton as Patrick Clancy plays the guitar for all songs in the Westfield Playhouse production of “Lafferty’s Wake,” which also features Tonya Rave (left) as Kathleen Lafferty and Brandi Davis as Maggie Clancy. The show runs through Oct. 15.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Doug Stanton as Patrick Clancy plays the guitar for all songs in the Westfield Playhouse production of “Lafferty’s Wake,” which also features Tonya Rave (left) as Kathleen Lafferty and Brandi Davis as Maggie Clancy. The show runs through Oct. 15.

Saying goodbye to a loved one is quite entertaining when friends and family of Charlie Lafferty gather at his grand wake at Rory's Irish pub.

A cedar casket down front sets the stage for "Lafferty's Wake," a comedy with music that opens tonight at Westfield Playhouse. The show continues weekends through Oct. 15 in the former church-turned-playhouse on Indiana 32 in Eagletown. Tickets are still available.

The show's director, Doug Davis, who also plays the role of Father Terrence Pettigrew, chose this show to direct because of its humor, because he likes the music and "it's a feel-good show."

"Charlie Lafferty has passed away in the little Irish village of Ballyslattery in Ireland. And his friends have come together to celebrate his life at the local Rory's pub, his home-away-from-home," said Davis, who elaborated about the storyline, during a dress rehearsal this week..

There are a lot of stories and jokes told about Lafferty as each character approaches the casket. "It has to do a lot with the art of Irish storytelling, and everybody gets their chance to tell a story. Mixed in between are some Irish folk songs," that include "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" and Whiskey in the Jar," he said.

"It's really a fun show once you get an audience," Davis said of the comedy whose characters come off the stage and interact with people in the audience. "I think a lot of people will enjoy it," Davis said.

One might wonder how easily it was to borrow a coffin for the show. Luckily, cast member Anderson Police Det. Doug Stanton's friend owns Anderson's C.J. Boots Casket Co., which allowed Westfield Playhouse to use a showroom sample casket for the show's three weekends. Stanton delivered the casket in his truck, and then he and set designer John Sampson unloaded it and carried it up the stairs and into the theater.

"There is a surprise at the end with the opening of the casket," said Davis, but wouldn't give any more hints about the reveal.

The casket is among the set pieces of Rory's pub, modeled after Indianapolis' Aristocrat Pub, Davis said. It took four coats of red paint to achieve the desired shade on the walls of the pub, he added.

The seven-member cast features Kelly Haas as Rory Finn, pub owner and master of ceremonies for Lafferty's Wake; Doug Davis as Father Terrence Pettigrew, who knows everyone; Tonya Rave as Kathleen Lafferty, the widow and mother of their 13 children; Brandi Davis as Maggie Clancy, Lafferty's daughter, newly married to Patrick Clancy; Doug Stanton as Patrick Clancy, Lafferty's son-in-law, newly married to Maggie; Kristen Wilson as Molly Greaney, an old friend of Lafferty who appears at his wake; and Dennis Forkel as Lafferty-of-Old, who appears during flashbacks.

While there naturally appears to be some consumption of spirits in this Irish comedy, Davis was quick to share a prop person's secret. When the audience sees actors drinking whiskey or scotch, it's actually iced tea, and when they're drinking Irish stout beer, it's root beer.

Davis, who is thrilled about the comedy, changes hats just as soon as this run finishes, with the Westfield Playhouse next production, "The Homecoming," a Waltons' Christmas story, on stage in December. Auditions are at 6:30 p.m. this Sunday and Monday at the Playhouse.