The Belle tolls for Molly Shannon: Excellence in Acting Award Winner at PIFF

Molly Shannon, who plays the poet Emily Dickinson in “Wild Nights with Emily,” the opening night film at the Provincetown International Film Festival, wanted to work with the film’s writer and director, Madeleine Olnek, for a very good reason. Shannon credits Olnek with being “the midwife” to Shannon’s signature sketch comedy character, Catholic schoolgirl Mary Katherine Gallagher, which became a staple on “Saturday Night Live.”

“We went to NYU drama school together,” Shannon says of Olnek and their alma mater, New York University. “I remember saying back then, ‘This girl is so smart and so funny!’ ” Shannon says she auditioned for “The Follies,” a comedy revue show at that Olnek was producing at school. “As an exercise, she had us make up a character and [Olnek] played a snotty interviewer. In that exercise, I created Mary Katherine Gallagher. They ended up writing the whole show around Mary Katherine Gallagher, and it became a big hit on campus … I went from NYU and working at a health club to being recognized on campus and people saying, ‘She’s so funny — she should be on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ It was a turning point.” READ MORE ON WICKED LOCAL PROVINCETOWN.