‘Whisper into my Good Ear’: Patrick O’Brien returns to the Festival Theatre this weekend

Festival Theatre is proud to present “Whisper Into My Good Ear” by William Hanley Feb. 20, 22 and 23, featuring stage and screen star Patrick O’Brien and Twin Cities actor Lawrence Ripp.

Festival audiences are familiar with Patrick O’Brien from his roles in the 2008 comedy “Dates with a Nut,” the 2009 production of “Underneath the Lintel,” “Heroes” in 2011 and 2012, plus “Rounding Third” last year. His television roles include Mr. Dewey in the 1990s comedy “Saved by the Bell,” and his film credits include “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008), “Catch Me If You Can” (2002) and “Stuart Little” (1999).

Lawrence Ripp has been a fixture in Twin Cities theater since 1979 when he moved from Green Bay, Wis. Having been a radio announcer for nine years and a Brown College graduate in broadcasting, Larry decided a change of pace was in order and got his first part on a Twin Cities stage at Park Square Theater, just three days after moving into the area.

“Patrick O’Brien and Larry Ripp are two actors that make acting look and feel as natural as walking and talking,” said Jaclyn Johnson, associate artistic director at Festival Theatre. “Not only are they veterans of many stages around the nation, they know the Elbow Room well and are truly able to make that intimate space become a magic setting for theater. We’re always excited to welcome these two artists to share their talents with Festival.”

An existential play and winner of the 1963 Drama Desk Award, “Whisper Into My Good Ear” is a scene study of two old pensioners, Charlie and Max, who escape their fleabag hotel and their own loneliness with a late night meeting in a nearby park. Charlie is losing his eyesight, and Max is losing his ability to “see” as well. The two have met to comment on the world around them, and to seek a reason, any reason to carry on for one more day.

The two talk — amiably, impatiently, bitterly — to reveal themselves and the sources of their despair. At times funny, at times desolate, at times brilliantly bitter and at others heartwarmingly gentle, this play examines what it means to live. This show contains adult themes and may not be appropriate for young audience members.

A successful playwright, show producer, actor and director, Larry has been working with Pat O’Brien for the last three years with hits at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. He and O’Brien toured Wisconsin and Iowa with the hit show “Heroes” and are doing so again with “Whisper.”

Tickets are $21, and seating is limited in the Elbow Room. The show is 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Reservations can be made online atfestivaltheatre.org, by calling 715-483-3387 or emailing [email protected]

Festival Theatre is in the historic Civic Auditorium in downtown St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin at 210 N. Washington St.