CONGRATULATIONS TO GLOUCESTER STAGE COMPANY! Boston Critics’ Recognize GSC 2018 Season With SIX IRNE Award Nominations

Boston Critics‏ Recognize Gloucester Stage Company’s 2018 Season

Non-Profit Theater Receives Six IRNE Award Nominations

Gloucester’s Lindsay Crouse and Ken Riaf Garner Nominations

The Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) recently announced the nominees for the 23rd Annual IRNE Awards. Gloucester Stage Company received a total of eight nominations for the 2018 season. The IRNE Awards honor the best of the previous year’s actors, directors, designers and companies across the full spectrum of large, midsize and fringe theater companies in the New England area.

The nominations for Gloucester Stage’s 2018 season include Best New Play: My Station in Life  by Gloucester’s Ken Riaf; Best Lighting Design: Marcella Barbeau for Sam Shepard’s True West; and four nominations for Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa:Best Play-Midsize; Best Director-Play-Midsize: Benny Sato Ambush; Best Actress-PlayMidsize: Gloucester’s Lindsay Crouse, andBest Supporting Actress-Play-Midsize: Samantha Richert.

According to GSC Artistic Director Robert Walsh, “We’re very excited for all our nominees and appreciative of the IRNE committee for this recognition! Looking forward to celebrating these nominations on April 8 along with the entire Boston theater community.”

The winners will be announced at the 23rd Annual IRNE Awards to be held on Monday, April 8th, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ballroom of The Inn at Brookline, just outside Kenmore Square. Tickets, as always, will be free, courtesy of the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE).

Gloucester Stage Company’s 40th Anniversary Season opens on June 7 with Neil Simon‘s romantic comedy Barefoot in the Park.For information about Gloucester Stage, or to purchase single tickets or subscription packages, call the Box Office at 978-281-4433 or visit www.gloucesterstage.com.

Photo 1: True West by Sam Shepard featuring (L to R) Alexander Platt and Nael Nacer with IRNE nominated Lighting Designer
Photo 2 and 3: The world premiere of My Station in Life by Gloucester’s Ken Riaf:  Featuring Ken Baltin as Simon Geller and Gloucester’s Meagan Gallo: IRNE nomination for Best new Play
Photo 4 : Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa featuring Gloucester Resident and Academy Award nominee Lindsay Crouse: IRNE Nomination for Best Actress
Photo 5: Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa featuring(L to R) Samantha Richert(IRNE nominee for Best Supporting Actress) and Bryn Austin
Photo 6: Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa at GSC : IRNE Nomination for Best Play 
All photos above by Gary Ng for Gloucester Stage Company
Photo 7: Benny Sato Ambush Director of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa at GSC: IRNE Nomination for Best Director Courtesy Photo

MY STATION IN LIFE: A CHARACTER DRIVEN TOUR de FORCE

By Tom Hauck

A piece of Gloucester history shines in “My Station in Life,” a captivating new play by Ken Riaf making its world premier at the Gloucester Stage Company through October 28. Starring Ken Baltin, this dramatic comedy retells the battle waged by classical radio station owner-operator Simon Geller against his various enemies including the FCC, the national radio chain scheming to take over his license, his own listeners whom he regularly insulted, and most of all his own inner demons.

Ably supported by actors Meagan Gallo, James Tarantino, and Veronica A. Wiseman, under the direction of Robert Walsh, and on a cluttered set designed by Afsoon Pajoufar, Baltin holds our attention for ninety minutes as he shuffles around his radio station/apartment, whines about being broke, attacks anyone who displeases him, plays classical records, takes his insulin injections, eats canned soup, and (most famously in real life) takes audible bathroom breaks while the microphone is hot.

The very definition of “curmudgeon,” Baltin manages to make Geller incredibly annoying yet deeply likeable. His Quixotic dedication to what he calls “beautiful music,” his spasmodically quivering lower lip, his trouser belt that is rarely fully fastened, and his casual disregard for any norms of behavior melt into a portrait of a guy we all know and, at holiday parties, do our best to avoid.

His behavior is at times truly offensive. One of his flippant and erroneous “weather reports” may have had serious consequences for a fishing boat caught in an unexpected storm, and on the air he begs for donations but rudely rejects a cash gift brought to him by a caring neighbor.

Integral to the production is the sound design by David Reiffel. Indeed, aside from the occasional visitor to Geller’s pack-rat hovel, his connection with the outside world is through sound: the ring of the phone, the knock on the door, the melodies of the records he plays. Yet aside from one brief sequence in which Geller vigorously “conducts” one of the pieces he’s playing, we don’t know the root of his dedication to the music he champions; he exhibits very little knowledge about the records he slaps onto the turntable, and demands that his listeners—there were 90,000 in real life—not call him to get more information. In his mind, the commercial-free music he broadcasts is a precious gift to his audience, and we should be grateful for it and not complain.

Funny, wrenching, and always fascinating, “My Station in Life” is a stunning finale to the GSC season. Don’t miss it! Now through October 28. For tickets call 978-281-4433, or visit gloucesterstage.com.

All photos Gary Ng

WORLD PREMIERE “MY STATION IN LIFE” OPENS THIS WEEK AT GLOUCESTER STAGE

WORLD PREMIERE

MY STATION IN LIFE

by Gloucester’s Ken Riaf

featuring Ken Baltin as Simon Geller

OPENS LIMITED RUN AT GLOUCESTER STAGE

Gloucester Stage Company wraps up its 39th season of professional theater with the world premiere of Ken Riaf’s My Station in Life from October 12 through October 28 at Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA. From the rubble of his studio dungeon, Simon Geller, the last standing single-handed radio operator in the country, broadcasts commercial free classical music from Gloucester – the town that loves and endures his peculiar presence. Known as “The Voice of Cape Ann”, for 24 years Geller ran WVCA-FM (104.9), a one-man classical music radio station from his home in downtown Gloucester. In Ken Riaf’s world premiere directed by Gloucester Stage Artistic Director Robert Walsh, this local legend comes to life through Boston actor Ken Baltin. The cast also includes Gloucester natives Meagan Gallo, a Gloucester Stage Youth Acting Workshop student making her professional debut, and James Tarantino, a seafood inspector best known for competing on CBS-TV’s Survivor Nicaragua; and Boston actress Veronica Anastasio Wiseman who last appeared at GSC in 2016’s The Last Schwartz.

Playwright Ken Riaf lives and works in Gloucester, Massachusetts where he practices law. He has worked as a commercial fisherman and longshoreman, and as a visiting professor of law in literature and film at Endicott College and business law at Salem State University. Mr. Riaf’s newest play, For Whom the Ball Rolls, is a basketball parable about race, culture and rank set in the 1950’s at Boston’s Navy Yard. His film work, in collaboration with award winning Producer and Director Henry Ferrini, has been shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and broadcast and screened locally and abroad. Their award winning collaboration Radio Fishtowncreates a shifting, non-linear portrait of the enigmatic Simon Geller while debunking the myth that working people don’t listen to classical music.  Radio Fishtown, produced and directed by Henry Ferrini, written by Ken Riaf, associate produced by Judd Wilson and featuring an introduction by the late host of morning pro musica Robert J. Lurtsema won Bravo’s 1992 Hometown Video Award for Documentary Film by a Media Professional and was broadcast on Boston’s PBS affiliate WGBH.

Ken Baltin returns to GSC to play Simon Geller after last appearing here in 2009’s Last of the Red Hot Lovers. His recent local theatre credits include Shakespeare in Love at SpeakEasy Stage; Beckett in Brief with Commonwealth Shakespeare; Not Constantinople at Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse and Blood on the Snow with Bostonian Society. Mr. Baltin has also appeared at many Boston area theatres including Death of a Salesman, Glengarry Glen Ross, Lost in Yonkers, and Laughter on the Twenty-Third Floor with Lyric Stage Co.; The Kite Runner, Eurydice, Waiting for Godot, and American Buffalo at New Repertory Theatre; Operation Epsilon, Fever Chart, and The Cherry Orchard at Central Square Theatre; The Screenwriter’s Daughter, and Copenhagen at Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse; Deported-a Dream Play, King of the Jews, Permanent Whole Life at  Boston Playwrights; Art, The Illusion, and Oleanna with Merrimack Rep; Cymbeline and Romeo and Juliet with Actors Shakespeare Project; Brooklyn Boy at SpeakEasy Stage; and I Ought To Be in Pictures with  Jewish Theatre of NE. His recent film appearances include Equalizer 2, Vault, and A Case of Blue. On the stage Mr. Baltin will appear in Heartland at the New Repertory Theatre in January, 2019. .

Gloucester’s Meagan Gallo makes her professional theater debut in My Station in Life, although this is not her first time performing at Gloucester Stage. She has been an active member of the GSC Youth Acting Workshop program for 4 years, including leading roles in Holiday Delights 2016 (Daughter 1) and Holiday Delights 2017 (Mrs. Claus), as well as being a Playtime Stories company member. Ms. Gallo is a junior at Gloucester High School, where she is involved in the Drama Club both onstage and offstage, in Seussical, Nora’s Lost and Once Upon a Mattress.

Veronica Anastasio Wiseman has become a familiar face on Boston area stages. Recently: she has been seen in Old Money with Commonwealth Shakespeare Co; Timbuktu USA, Cleanliness, Godliness & Madness, 27 Tips for Banishing the Blues, Talk To At Me & Real Realism with Sleeping Weazel; Mrs. Packard, Mud Blue Sky, and Salome with Bridge Rep; Speech and Debate, the IRNE nominated The Goat or Who Is Sylvia with Bad Habit Productions; and The Edge of Peace at Central Square Theatre. Ms. Wiseman  produces and hosts the profile talk show Wise Friends for Sharon Community Television, where she serves as Vice President on their Board of Directors. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Huntington Theatre Company.

Artistic Director and director Robert Walsh has worked at Gloucester Stage as both an actor and director for close to 30years. Earlier this season he directed Cyrano; in 2017 he directed Bank Job; in 2016 he directed Songs For A New World; and in 2015 he directed the Elliot Norton Award winning The New Electric Ballroom and starred in Gloucester Blue. Walsh’s other GSC directing credits include North Shore Fish, Fighting Over Beverley, The Widow’s Blind Date,The Primary English Class, and Our Town. As an actor he has appeared on the stage in Gloucester in Sins of the Mother, The Subject Was Roses, The Barking Sharks, and Two for the Seesaw. He has also served as the Producing Artistic Director at the American Stage Festival where he directed Bus Stop, Intimate Exchanges, Jacques Brel…, andLend Me a Tenor, among others. As Artistic Associate at Actors’ Shakespeare Project he has directed As You Like It, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Coriolanus, Twelfth Night, and Measure For Measure. Other productions directed include:Othello with Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; Round and Round The Garden, Table Manners, K2, Later Life andHoliday Memories at Merrimack Rep; Rancho Mirage, Race, Speed-The-Plow, and True West with New Repertory Theatre; The Secret of Sherlock Holmes and The Goatwoman of Corvis County at Shakespeare & Co.; Misalliance and A Life in the Theatre at Two River Theatre Co.; I Hate Hamlet with StageWest; The Little Foxes at Barter Theatre; and Of Mice and Men at Stoneham Theatre, among others. His roles in recent feature films include Black Mass, Patriot’s Dayand the upcoming, Altar Rock. Mr. Walsh directed the on-field ceremonies for the ’99 All-Star Game at Fenway Park. He is on the faculty at Brandeis University.

Ken Riaf’s My Station in Life runs from October 12 through October 28 at Gloucester Stage. Performances areWednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm. Following the 2 pm performance on Sunday, October 21 audiences are invited to free post-show discussions with the artists from My Station in Life. Single ticket prices are $35 to $45 with discounts available for Preview Performances, Cape Ann Residents, Senior Citizens and Patrons 18 years old and under. In addition to regular reserved tickets, Pay What You Wish tickets are available for theSaturday, October 13 matinee at 2 pm. Pay What You Wish tickets can only be purchased day of show at the door. All performances are held at 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA. For more information about Gloucester Stage, or to purchase tickets, call the Box Office at 978-281-4433 or visit www.gloucesterstage.com

Ken Riaf’s new play My Station in Life premieres October 12th thru the 28th at Gloucester Stage. Go!

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Great news from multitalented creative Ken Riaf: 

“The premiere of My Station in Life a new play I wrote about Simon Geller, America’s last one-man radio broadcaster. Geller, the radio recluse who brought classical music to a hardscrabble fishing port, fights for survival against powerful forces that want what little he has. Actor Ken Baltin and supporting cast bring Geller’s quirky persona and corkscrew saga to the stage from October 12th through October 28th. ”

Produced by the Gloucester Stage Company and directed by Robert Walsh, Ken Riaf’s My Station in Life tickets are available now at My Station in Life.