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Petersen Returns To The Stage After Eight Years

By Deborah
November 29, 2006 - 1:14 AM

For the next five weeks, William Petersen (Gil Grissom) will be on a Providence stage playing alcoholic funeral parlor worker John Plunkett in Conor McPherson’s story of Christmas redemption, “Dublin Carol.” Petersen refers to the tale as a “little Christmas ditty about alcoholism, death and divorce.” “I have never seen anything associated with Christmas of this ilk,” he said.

Petersen was drawn to this performance because an old friend of his, Curt Columbus, has taken over the Trinity theater where the play is staged. When Columbus called Petersen, Petersen thought, “God, I’d love to do this for him.” The two have known each other for two decades, since a friend of Columbus’ from Yale hooked him up with Petersen’s nephew in Chicago. The nephew was staying in a Chicago apartment Petersen had lent to him while shooting a film on the West Coast. Petersen returned to Chicago and found this “theater nerd” crashing at his place and thought he was “smart, a nice guy.” Columbus got his start in theater after Petersen got him an internship at Chicago’s Remains Theater Ensemble.

Petersen claims he’s been a little freaked out by his return to the stage, feeling like he’s starting over. In television, actors learn things in snippets. But for “Dublin Carol,” he walks around with an 80 page script in his head. He says it’s using a “completely different muscle.” Of his return to the stage, he says, “It’s tougher than I thought it’d be.” Although the show’s director, Amy Morton from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, told him that stage work is like riding a bicycle. You never forget how.

Dublin Carol opens on Thursday and runs through January 7th at Trinity Rep in Providence, Rhode Island. Tickets are $20 to $60. For more information, visit Trinity Rep.

To read the full story, head over to Providence Journal.

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