Award-winning playwright to visit Winchester theater

Marie Martin, 38, and Richard Bennett, 65, both of Winchester, on the set of their upcoming performance "Absolutely Dead." Kaley Toy/Daily

WINCHESTER – Award-winning playwright Michael Walker will visit the Winchester Little Theatre for its opening show of “Absolutely Dead” on March 10, creating nervous excitement among cast members.

Walker is a playwright and screenwriter from the Boston area. He was an actor and director for more than 25 years before he turned to writing plays. His plays have been developed through readings at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Primary Stages in New York City, WorkShop Theatre in New York City and NewGate Theatre in Rhode Island. His plays have gone on to receive awards, and have been performed in Massachusetts, Kentucky, Texas, New York City and now Winchester.

Sara Gomez, the director of the production, said the play takes place in a winterized home on an island off the coast of Maine. Eight cast members are involved in the murder mystery.

Marie Martin, 38, of Winchester plays the part of Alice Martin, a 24-year-old student who should be at college instead of attending the party being held throughout the performance.

She said that this is the “coolest, most stretching” role she has played.

Martin said she is extremely excited to meet Walker and is hoping he will sign her script during his visit. She also did her research on Walker and the character she will be portraying for the next month onstage to gain more background knowledge about her character.

“I hope he enjoys it,” she said of the performance. “We’ve been working very hard.”

Auditions for the play were held in January, with rehearsals beginning immediately after the cast was chosen.

Richard Bennett, 65, of Winchester, plays the part of Jack Morgan, an owner and co-founder of a business with a son who is expected to be a part of the business.

Bennett, who has been acting since 1988, said he feels both excitement and trepidation about Walker’s visit, adding that visits from playwrights have been rare.

“You’re saying his words and you’re hoping you’re doing it as well as he wants it to be done, presenting the character he wrote,” he said.

“Absolutely Dead” was the first place winner in the 2012 International Mystery Writers’ Festival and second place winner in the Robert J. Pickering Award for Playwriting. The opening night’s production will be followed by a post-curtain party with Walker attending.

A meet and greet champagne reception with Walker will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. March 11 at Daniel Morgan House. Tickets are available through the theatre’ box office. Tickets are $35 per person and $50 per couple.

The matinee performance of the show is scheduled for March 12, with a post-curtain discussion with Walker. The discussion is open to the public.

Cast members of Absolutely Dead:
• Richard Bennett as Jack Morgan
• Ellen Nichols as Ruth Morgan
• Steve Nichols as Ben Martin
• Randy Moulton as Colin Ashcroft
• Irina Price as Susan Ashcroft
• Stephen Ortego as Jon Morgan
• Marie Martin as Alice Martin
• Tamson Stone-Conrad as Megan

Performances will be held March 10 through March 25 at the Winchester Little Theatre located at 315 W. Boscawen St. in Winchester.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.wltonline.org/, by calling the box office at 540-662-3331 or at the Winchester Book Gallery or Blue Plate Books.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com