I was shocked to read in your February 5 edition (Our Town, page 10) in Nora Duff’s interview with Malachy McCourt that “A Couple of Blaguards was abandoned by its original producer once it arrived at the old CrossCurrents nightclub.” This is not true.
A Couple of Blaguards was produced and directed by Mike Houlihan in New York, Chicago, Syracuse, and Philadelphia in both 1984 and 1985. My Chicago production ran for six months at the CrossCurrents cabaret in 1984 and for limited engagements at the Beverly Arts Center in 1985. Michael Cullen and Sheila Heneghan did not “step in to rescue the show.” They were employed by me at that time to serve as general managers on the show during our run at CrossCurrents. They were certainly not the producers, and they never signed a check. Upon conclusion of the CrossCurrents run they were dismissed, and I took the show out to the south side for a sold-out engagement at the Beverly Arts Center and a return engagement at the Village Gate in New York City.
A subsequent production of the show ran briefly at the Briar Street Theatre in 1988, produced by Sheila Heneghan and Howard Platt. To my knowledge Mr. Cullen has never produced A Couple of Blaguards and certainly not at the Briar Street.
Since I hold the subsidiary rights to A Couple of Blaguards until the year 2000, I would be very interested in the facts of Mr. Cullen’s supposed production. Royalty payments for this production have not been paid. I am currently receiving royalties on the New York production and this would not be the case had I “abandoned the production.”
Malachy McCourt’s abhorrence to paying these royalties (standard practice in theatrical business) is evident in his comments to your reporter, Ms. Duff. He may denigrate my professionalism and characterize my commitment to his show as minimal, but I spent a great deal of time and money in both New York and Chicago producing and directing A Couple of Blaguards, and his comments are best taken with a full measure of salt. He is, after all, one of a pair of infamous blaguards, and perhaps Ms. Duff’s naivete can excuse her omission of checking the facts.
As for Mr. Cullen and Ms. Heneghan, I can only pity them for trying to embellish their own careers by usurping the accomplishments of others. They found a kindred spirit in the McCourts’ charming perfidy and in this case I think they have not only kissed the Blarney stone but swallowed it as well.
N. La Salle
Nora Duff replies:
Reading Mr. Houlihan’s letter is like jumping into the middle of an Irish family feud: everyone has a different memory of what happened and who’s to blame, with plenty of acerbic comments on both sides. Mr. Houlihan is correct in stating that he was the producer of A Couple of Blaguards and that Michael Cullen and Sheila Heneghan were employed by him when they rescued the show.