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Lifestyle

May 15, 2014

Talkin' to the wall

'Shirley Valentine' plays off audience response

(Continued)

She tried playwriting before getting back into acting and most recently appeared in “The Cemetery Club” at the North Shore Theatre in Winchester and in “Bully Dance,” staged by Argos Productions at Boston Playwright’s Theatre.

“Shirley Valentine” is the biggest role she has done, comparable only to another title role she appeared in, Shakespeare’s “Richard III.”

“When I went back into the theater, I had taken a class at Southwick Studios, which Andrea Southwick ran out of Watertown,” McGirr said. “She would do a summer production every year, and was doing ‘Richard III.’ I said, I’ll give it a shot.”

One of the challenges in learning the part of Shirley Valentine — and one of the character’s main differences from Richard, the Duke of York — was her accent.

“If I used the complete accent, nobody would know what I was saying,” McGirr said. “I try to get a flavor of it. I listen to tapes, and I watch videos that have the accent to get the rhythm down. I went to a website about people who live in Liverpool. It’s the Jersey Shore of England.”

Fogle worked with McGirr last season when he directed her in Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance” and had her in mind when he chose to stage “Shirley Valentine.”

“She’s been around the Boston scene doing theater for years,” Fogle said. “She makes a wonderful Shirley Valentine.”

McGirr said she and Fogle are both admirers of the book “A Sense of Direction” by William Ball, which she described as “a layman’s philosophy of directing.”

“We share a lot of similar views on what the process should be,” she said. “So, working with John is a dream.”

While “Shirley Valentine” appeals to women, Fogle said everyone should be able to admire McGirr’s tour de force performance.

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