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Mad Cat plays it for laughs

Mad catMiami's Mad Cat Theatre Company has done plenty of funny plays during its 10-year history, but its one-time-only revival of Shepherd's Pie has been specifically crafted for laughs.

Written by Mad Cat founder Paul Tei and Ivonne Azurdia, Shepherd's Pie was one of the company's earliest efforts, debuting around St. Patrick's Day in 2001.  That's appropriate: The play is about an Irish acting troupe -- the Velvet Shamrock Players -- who have received a grant to tour the United States in order to share the real story of St. Patrick with all the faux folk who spend every March 17 celebrating their "Irish" heritage.

Tei is directing a cast that, besides Azurdia, includes Erik Fabregat, Betsy Graver, Todd Allen Durkin, Sofia Citarella and Amy McKenna.  Mad Cat is resurrecting Shepherd's Pie for the South Beach Comedy Festival, performing at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach.

Tei, who appeared in an episode of CSI: Miami on Monday (and who has a recurring gig as Barry the Money Launderer on USA Network's Burn Notice), has been rehearsing with his cast at GableStage, and he says Shepherd's Pie is continuing to evolve.

"Ninety percent of it is a new piece -- new songs, new jokes, a singalong with the audience," he says.  "It's very blue, take-no-prisoners stuff. You have to be able to laugh at yourself."

Tickets to the show, a co-presentation of the Miami Light Project and the South Beach Comedy Festival, are $25 in advance, $30 at the door (or, if you pay $50, you get the close-up seats and an after-party with the cast).

If that sounds like your cup of Irish coffee, check Ticketmaster or the Miami Light Project site for info.