Portland actor Tony Reilly will return to the stage less than six months after losing a leg in an auto accident that killed his wife, Susan.

The Reillys were the founders and creative force behind the American Irish Repertory Ensemble, which has presented Irish-themed theater in Portland for the past decade. Reilly said Monday that he will return to the stage in June, fulfilling a personal pledge he made while hospitalized to keep AIRE active despite his injuries and the death of his wife and creative partner.

Reilly has two shows planned in Portland. “Ulysses for Beginners” will go on at 7 p.m. June 16 at the Maine Irish Heritage Center. Reilly boils James Joyce’s “Ulysses” down to about 60 minutes, and presents it as part of the international celebration of the life of Joyce known as Bloomsday.

At 7:30 p.m. June 17-18 at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, he’ll present “The Coma Monologues,” which recounts the dreams he experienced while in an induced coma as his medical team worked to keep him alive. Stacey Koloski directs.

“I came out of the coma after three weeks with dreams in my head that I remembered in complete detail,” Reilly wrote in an email. “The story tells what was happening in the real world and what was going on in my dreams.”

During the early days of his rehab, Reilly vowed to get back to work in time for Bloomsday. “Ulysses for Beginners” is silly fun, he said, and also one of his late wife’s favorite pieces.

“This was something that was dear to Susan’s heart, so I agreed to do this three months ago in a hospital bed,” he wrote.

The Reillys were involved in an accident Dec. 23 on the Massachusetts Turnpike while traveling to New York for the Christmas holidays. Reilly was hospitalized in Worcester, Massachusetts, before being transferred to a rehabilitation hospital near his family in New Jersey.

He returned home to South Portland in early May.

Meanwhile, the theater community will hold a memorial for Susan Reilly at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Maine Irish Heritage Center, 34 Gray St., Portland.

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes


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