Susan McDonald | Special to The Journal
As a minor character in the Gamm Theatre’s 2004 production of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People,” Rehoboth, Massachusetts, native Sean McConaghy watched the more seasoned actors dig into their characters.
Fresh out of college, he was cast as “The Drunk,” but was fascinated by Richard Donelly’s embodiment of the protagonist, Dr. Thomas Stockman, a complex man who first enjoys the adoration of a town he saves economically with the opening of a healing spa, and then faces public ire when spa waters turn toxic.
Almost two decades later, McConaghy returns to The Gamm in an adaptation called “A Lie Agreed Upon,” playing Dr. Stockman himself. The show — the first indoor production by a major Rhode Island theater company since the pandemic hit in March 2020 — opens Sept. 30 and runs through Oct. 24.
“It’s a boon to have gone through this before,” McConaghy says. “It’s like I had training wheels on. I so admire Richard and borrowed a lot of characteristics he developed. This is the best way to perfect this craft — you start out watching the masters and begin to form your own way of doing things.”
Gamm artistic director Tony Estrella — who wrote “A Lie Agreed Upon” while locked down during the early months of the pandemic — encourages young actors to attend as many rehearsals as possible to soak up the wisdom and traits of others, McConaghy says.