Entertainment » Theatre

Learning on the Job: Christian O'Brien on 'The Boys Next Door'

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Oct 11, 2017

Christian O'Brien is starring in 2nd Story Theatre's production of "The Boys Next Door" from playwright Tom Griffin.

O'Brien plays Jack Palmer, the caretaker of four mentally disabled men living in a Boston suburb.

"It's really about his burnout in the profession and the compassion it takes to do this job and do it successfully," O'Brien told EDGE.

O'Brien said the process of rehearsing for the show has been "educational and informative."

"A lot of what we have focused on is these characters and what they deal with and how we relate to that," O'Brien continued. "(They) are a lot like all of us in a way that they find labels and identities within their lives."

O'Brien noted audience members who have worked in the mental health and social work fields have complimented the actors for making the characters relatable.

The cast includes Luis Astudillo, Marlon Carey, Joseph Henderson, Frankie Iaquinta, and F. William Oakes.

O'Brien was born in Cranston and graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He trained with the Atlantic Theater Company and Stonestreet School for Film and Television.

O'Brien performed in some off-Broadway plays and later appeared in the daytime soaps "One Life to Live" and "As The World Turns."

O'Brien returned to Rhode Island a few years ago in the hopes of advancing his career in theatre.

"I wanted to do more and have more opportunity," O'Brien explained. "So many (theater) companies are beginning to pop up and be able to get their own spaces. There's a lot of good things happening in the arts scene now."

More recently, O'Brien starred in "Einstein and the Polar Bear" and "Butterflies are Free" at Arctic Playhouse in West Warwick. He also directed "I Hate Hamlet" and will direct an upcoming production of "The Santaland Diaries."

O'Brien savors the uniqueness of the theatrical environment.

"Every night is different and the audience and the actors experience a different experience each night even though it's the same story over and over again," O'Brien said.

"Everytime I'm in an audience as an audience member, I think to myself: 'I think I could get up and start yelling and interrupt this thing an affect everybody.' That's sort of the power of live entertainment. It's a communal place and people sharing the same story for a couple of hours."

"The Boys Next Door" runs through October 29 at the 2nd Story Theatre. 28 Market St., Warren, RI. For tickets, call 401-247-4200. For more information, visit the theater's website.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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