PRESS RELEASE: World Premiere of "Oceanside" at MRT

DATE: January 28, 2015
CONTACT: Kate Brandt,
PR CONTACT PHONE: 978-654-7595
BOX OFFICE: 978-654-4678


Deeply emotional and compelling family drama
February 12 – March 8

Lowell, MA “Oceanside” by Nick Gandiello will have its world premiere production at Merrimack Repertory Theatre under the direction of Melia Bensussen this winter. The production marks the first full-length professional production for Gandiello, an up-and-coming playwright whose work has received considerable national attention from playwriting conferences and workshops.

The 2-hour play play will run from February 12 – March 8, with press performances at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm on Sunday, February 15, with a reception following the evening performance.  All performances will be held at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, located at 50 East Merrimack Street in historic downtown Lowell. Tickets range from $60 - $20 and are on sale now through or by calling 978-654-4678.

In this powerful drama that explores complex family dynamics, Gwen thought she had successfully walked away from her troubled past. But then her ex-husband returns with news of their grown daughter’s disappearance and with him come the demons that she sought to erase from her idyllic new life.

About the Production
Director Melia Bensussen was introduced to this play by Gandiello’s New York-based agent Alexis Williams and was impressed with the story and the playwright’s writing style. “There’s nothing forced about Nick’s language… It’s organic, and there’s a musicality to how he writes. I think Nick is really capturing a modern, American vernacular, and a way real people speak, while lifting it into wonderful theatricality,” she observed. Bensussen proposed it to MRT Artistic Director Charles Towers for the 2014-15 Season. Towers also responded strongly to the play and included it in the season. He describes Gandiello as “unsparing in looking at the real drama of troubled lives” and says, “I responded immediately to the family situation and to the central question at the heart of the play: can people really change?”

“Oceanside” was the first full-length play that Gandiello wrote after completing his Master’s degree at the New School for Drama in 2011. The first stop on the play’s path to production was the Ars Nova Play Group, a resident writers’ group in New York City. There, Gandiello first heard the script read out loud. Ars Nova Associate Artistic Director Emily Shooltz noted: “Nick’s writing stood out in an especially competitive application year for its sinewy language, sharp point of view and offbeat humor.” It was further developed after a number of readings include a public reading at Speranza Theatre Company in New Jersey in November 2013. The team at Merrimack Repertory Theatre will be creating the first full production.

Cast and Creative Team
The actors selected to create these roles for the premiere production include several who will be familiar to MRT and Boston audiences. Carolyn Baeumler (as Gwen) appeared in “The Exceptionals” at MRT as well as numerous roles in New York and around the country. Allyn Burrows (as Kevin) is returning to MRT after most recently being seen in “The Seafarer”. He is also the Artistic Director and a Founding Member of the Actors Shakespeare Project in Boston and has appeared in numerous productions in the region. Joey Collins (as Tommy) received an IRNE (Independent Reviewers of New England) nomination for his role in MRT’s “Beasley’s Christmas Party” and also appeared in Lowell in “Beat Generation.” His credits include “The Glass Menagerie” on Broadway with Jessica Lange and many Broadway, Off-Broadway, and national productions.

Making their debuts at MRT are Caroline Lawton (Erin McKelling) and Allan Mayo (John Erring), both of whom have been seen in many productions around the Boston area.

Melia Bensussen also has strong local ties. At MRT, she has directed “The Blonde, The Brunette, and the Vengeful Redhead,” “Memory House,” and “Two Jews Walk into a War” among others. She has also directed locally for Huntington Theatre, Actors Shakespeare Project, and Nora Theatre Company as well as Off-Broadway and around the country. She is the Chair of the Performing Arts Department at Emerson College.

Nick Gandiello was twice a Finalist for the Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship, he attended the company's Summer Residency at Yale and was a member of the 2014 I-73 Writers Group. He has attended residencies at The Blue Mountain Center and SPACE on Ryder Farm. Nick is currently the Literary Manager of Young Playwrights Inc., for which he has led playwriting workshops in Virginia, Miami, and New York. 

Bensussen and Gandiello are working with Scenic Designer Judy Gailen, Costume Designer Deborah Newhall, Lighting Designer John Malinowski, and Sound Designer David Remedios.

Tickets range from $60 - $20 and are available at or by calling 978-654-4678. Senior discount 10% off adult ticket price. Student tickets $15. Group discounts are available for groups of six or more by calling 978-654-7561. $5 Night: Thursday, February 12 at 7:30 pm. Patrons may purchase tickets for $5, cash only, at the Box Office between 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm. Limit 2 tickets per person. Lowell Night: Wednesday, February 18 at 7:30 pm. Lowell residents may purchase tickets for $10 at the box office from 4:30 pm-7:30 pm. Proper ID required, limit 2 per person. A Military Discount of $10 off per ticket (up to four tickets per production) applies to any performance for active duty, retired, veteran, and reservist members of the military.

Special Events
Post-Show Discussions with the cast or creative team will be held following each Thursday evening performance. Each Wednesday, a Post-Show Community Discussion will occur following the evening performance. MRT partners with various organizations and individuals in the community to discuss a topic related to the themes or content of the play. On February 18 and March 4, representatives from Lowell House, a residential and outreach program dealing with addiction issues will discuss their work. On February 18, they will be joined by a facilitator from SMART Recovery, a secular-based addiction recovery program. On February 25, audiences can hear from two organizations that use the arts as a tool for recovery – The Improbable Players and Right Turn.

“Oceanside” is supported by Production Sponsor Lowell Five and Media Sponsor WBUR. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and the 2014-15 Season is sponsored by Sage Bank.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has been Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre company since 1979, and is an integral part of Lowell’s identity as the cultural heart of the region. Under the artistic direction of Charles Towers since 2001, MRT is known for its high production standards and for creating compelling new plays and regional premieres that reflect the lives and emotions of its audiences. Sean Daniels has been tapped as the company’s fourth Artistic Director, beginning with the 2015-16 Season. MRT is one of the 74 members nationwide of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT.)

MRT 2014-15 SEASON
“Year Zero” by Michael Golamco
September 11 – October 5, 2014

“Dusk Rings a Bell” by Stephen Belber
October 23 – November 16, 2014

“13 Things About Ed Carpolotti”
Book, music and lyrics by Barry Kleinbort, based on a play by Jeffrey Hatcher
November 28 – December 21, 2014

“The Best Brothers” by Daniel MacIvor
January 8 – February 1, 2015

“Oceanside” by Nick Gandiello
February 12 – March 8, 2015

“Out of the City” by Leslie Ayvazian
March 19 – April 12, 2015

“The Outgoing Tide” by Bruce Graham
April 23 – May 17, 2015

Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Performance Space: The Nancy L. Donahue Theatre
(In Liberty Hall, adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium)
50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
Box Office: 978-654-4678

Image Download

(Headshots available immediately, PR photos available beginning January 30, production photos available beginning February 13.)
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