The Donnellys: A Trilogy – Part Two: St. Nicholas Hotel

Raising Hell on the Roman Line

Reviewed by Deb Lord

The family outgrows their farm. The Donnelly children strike out to find their fortunes. William Donnelly, leader of the boys, starts a stagecoach line running North from London, and the charming brothers drive horses, freight and passengers to great success, all while drawing the resentment of their rivals … and so begin the infamous Stage Coach Wars … and before they are through, there will be broken hearts and blood left on the road to Lucan. The Donnellys live with high romance, barroom brawls, and an irrepressible instinct to raise hell on the Roman Line.

The second part of the Donnelly trilogy, St. Nicholas Hotel, is in performance at the Blyth Festival at their outdoor venue. The Harvest Stage is a permanent open-air, fully accessible amphitheatre, with a thrust stage and audience on three sides. It’s an intimate venue, with open skies above.

After Part One: Sticks and Stones, you follow the family as they become adults trying to make themselves known in their community. They are all trying to make a life for themselves but the way they do this makes you realize what a different time and place it was to live in the late 1870s.

The cast portrays rip-roaring races by creating stagecoaches out of trunks and chairs. The whole group portrays a high-energy play with their talented voices, and musical instruments including the actors’ stomps and dances.

St. Nicholas Hotel reinforces the audience’s realization the Donnellys cannot continue their violent ways without repercussions. The majority of the Lucan community is living in fear of the Donnellys and is hoping to see an end to their tirades. The play ends in a dark mood leaving you knowing something violent is about to happen!

Masae Day, portraying Maggie Thompson, Will Donnelly’s intended bride, plays on your heartstrings. Falling in love with the wrong man has never seemed more unattainable.

What an exciting Part Two of the Donnellys Trilogy. I look forward to Handcuffs, the final play in the trilogy.


All three parts will be performed by one single company of ten actors: Randy Hughson, Rachel Jones, Geoffrey Armour, Masae Day, Paul Dunn, Cameron Laurie, Steven McCarthy, Hallie Seline, James Dallas Smith and Mark Uhre.

The Donnellys: A Trilogy opened on June 24 with Sticks and Stones followed by St. Nicholas Hotel Sat., July 13 and Handcuffs on Tues., Aug. 1. There will then be opportunities to see all three shows on consecutive nights several times throughout August. The shows will begin running in three-day clusters on Tuesday through Thursday and again on Friday through Sunday until Sept. 3.

Artistic Director Gil Garratt has adapted these three plays for the unique open-air setting of the Harvest Stage. This will be the first time in decades that all three of these touchstone plays have been performed in repertory with each other, affording audiences the chance to take in the whole cycle over three nights.

St. Nicholas Hotel continues until September 2 at the Harvest Stage, 377 Gypsy Lane, Blyth, Ontario. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office at 1-877-862-5984 or by visiting

Photo: Left to right: Paul Dunn, Cameron Laurie, Geoffrey Armour, Randy Hughson, Rachel Jones, Hallie Seline, Masae Day and Steven McCarthy. Photo credit Terry Manzo

Part Two: St. Nicholas Hotel
Written by James Reaney
Directed by Gil Garratt
Performed by Geoffrey Armour, Masae Day, Paul Dunn, Randy Hughson, Rachel Jones, Cameron Laurie, Steven McCarthy, Hallie Seline, James Dallas Smith, Mark Uhre
Harvest Stage, Blyth Festival, Blyth
July 13 to September 2, 2023
Reviewed by Deb Lord


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