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.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is email@example.com
ON THE MARQUEE WITH NANCYE TUTTLE
The fall season gets off to a high-spirited start as "Jersey Boys" settles in at the Ogunquit Playhouse, Ogunquit, Maine for a Sept. 5-Oct. 28 run. Making its Northeast premiere here, the show takes audiences on the exhilarating journey behind the music of mega-stars Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The musical, written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, follows the story of four guys bound by one dream who worked their way from the streets of Jersey to the heights of stardom. Included in the score are all the Four Season hits "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," "Dawn" and "My Eyes Adored You." Tickets start at $52 at 207-646-5511 or ogunquitplayhouse.org.
Lexington Historical Society presents a "revolutionary sing-along in a revolutionary town" with "Hamiltunes" on Sept. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in Cary Hall. The program is sanctioned by Lin Manuel Miranda, the creator of "Hamilton," which arrives at the Boston Opera House on Sept. 18. Tickets are $4 and costumes are encouraged, as song leaders and the audience will sing a dozen or so "Hamilton" tunes, guided by screen lyrics at the front of the hall. Free refreshments and goodie bags to all attendees. Visit lexingtonhistory. org for details.
DANCIN' THIS FALL
North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly recreates iconic characters and memorable musical moment at "Dance to the Movies" on Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. The familyfriendly show features moments from movies like "West Side Story," "Grease," "Chicago" and "Moulin Rouge" plus new dance numbers to scores from movies like "Singin' In the Rain," "Titanic," "The Matrix" and "Willie Wonka." Featured performers include pros from "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," plus American Idol finalists. Tickets $69-$100 at www.nsmt.org. "Lord of the Dance" makes a stop at the refurbished Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston on Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. Visit www.us.atgtickets.com for ticket info.