Actor Gordon Clapp, left, and playwright Jack Neary. Clapp will star in Neary’s play "Trick or Treat," opening off-Broadway at the 59E59.
Actor Gordon Clapp, left, and playwright Jack Neary. Clapp will star in Neary's play "Trick or Treat," opening off-Broadway at the 59E59.

Jaxk Neary, the Lowell-born and bred playwright/director/actor, forged a strong bond with actor Gordon Clapp several years ago when Clapp starred in Neary's play "Auld Lang Syne" in Peterborough, N.H.

It turned into a lasting friendship, and Neary decided to write a play for Clapp, best-known for his Emmy Award-winning portrayal of Det. Greg Medavoy on TV's "NYPD Blue" and for actress Sandra Blaney, another Neary friend.

He wrote "Trick or Treat," a tragi-comedy about a family dealing with tough issues, amidst a few surprising plot twists. Clapp loved it and submitted it for the January 2016 play reading series at Northern Stage in White River Junction, Vermont, where it was a well-received reading and subsequent production in January 2017.

Fast forward three years, and "Trick or Treat" is now slated for its off-Broadway opening at the 59E59 Theatre on Jan. 12.

It's been a trip for Neary, who praises Clapp and Northern Stage's producing artistic director Carol Dunne for helping get the show to New York.

"With the success at Northern Stage, Carol wanted to bring it to 59E59," said Neary. "Producers there couldn't come to Vermont to see the show, so we went to Manhattan in May of 2017, to read the play for them. I was wary, given that the show had been fully staged on a magnificent set."

But, said Neary, even with the actors perched behind music stands, just reading it, "It really rocked that day. The actors, Gordon especially, were on fire. 59E59 booked it immediately."


The original cast, aside from one actress, returns. Dunne directs.

Clapp, said Neary, is a "great friend and a phenomenal actor. My plays are a bit difficult to decipher for actors. I riddle the script with ellipses, and I always hope to find actors who can fill in the three dots. Gordon has never once asked me what one of my ellipses or pauses or beats means. Never. He completely understands what I am looking for and he's a brilliant comic, too. I am blessed to have him and Carol Dunne leading the charge to NYC with 'Trick or Treat.'"

A few other Lowell connections. Clapp appeared at the MRT as Robert Frost in "This Verse Business" in 2011. "Secret Order" and "I and You," two plays that originated at the MRT, both transferred to 59E59 Theatre. In 1987, Neary's "First Night" was the first of many world premieres staged at the MRT.

Tickets to "Trick or Treat" will be available in November. Visit, or for info.

Nancye Tuttle's email address is



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