Cranston native in OSTC’S ‘Inherit the Wind’

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Ocean State Theatre’s production of “Inherit the Wind” is blessed with 21 actors, many from Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts.

Gunnar Manchester was born in Cranston, went to school in Maine, and has lived in Vermont, Sweden and New York City before returning to Rhode Island, where he has earned roles in productions at Gamm and Wilbury Theatres before landing at Ocean State.

“I was fortunate to meet [Director] Fred Sullivan Jr. while playing in ‘Arcadia’ at Gamm,” Gunnar said. “He has had an immediate influence on me. I’m constantly aware of his intelligence and versatility.”

Sullivan is directing “Inherit the Wind” and, to Gunnar’s delight, has added some music to enhance the atmosphere and transitions.

“I majored in theatre and minored in music at Bates College, and I’ll be using both skills in this play,” he said.

Manchester has a few roles in the ensemble, plus he’ll be playing the violin and singing in a barbershop quartet.

A barbershop quartet? I don’t remember a barbershop quartet in the play.

“Fred’s pretty innovative,” he said. “He’s got a fresh take on this classic play, which is still very relevant today, with its views on intolerance. And people using platforms to promote their causes. Sort of an abuse of charisma.”

The classic play brings Gunnar and Tom Gleadow together again after both appeared in “Arcadia.”

“He’s a great actor. “I also enjoy working with Frank O’Donnell,” he said, just as Rhode Island’s favorite comedian walked through the door for rehearsals.

Gunnar is also preparing for his role in the upcoming production of “Spring Awakening” at Wilbury Theatre. He hopes to remain in Rhode Island and is looking forward to the upcoming general auditions for next year’s productions at OSTC and other local theatres.

“I’ve just been back home for a year, and I’ve come to love it here,” he said.

“Inherit the Wind,” the story of the Scopes trial, opens March 29 at Warwick’s Ocean State Theatre. Call 921-6800 for reservations.

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