‘Adrift’ is an exciting departure for Southland actor
By Betty Mohr firstname.lastname@example.org July 18, 2012 3:52PM
Gary Murphy, of Orland Park, stars in "Adrift" at the Greenhouse Theatre Center in Chicago.
◆ July 26-Aug. 26
◆ Greenhouse Theater Center’s Upstairs Studio, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
◆ Tickets, $20 or $12 for students and seniors
◆ (773) 404-7336; greenhousetheater.org
◆ Polarity Ensemble Theatre presents this show in association with Azusa Productions
Updated: August 21, 2012 6:17AM
Switching careers in midstream was a risky undertaking for Gary Murphy, of Orland Park.
But he said he couldn’t be happier that he changed gears to become an actor especially since he has a featured role in “Adrift.”
The show has a preview performance slated for July 26 before officially opening July 27 for a run through Aug. 26 at the Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago.
Murphy has been working his way up from a variety of parts that include playing Father Charles Dunbar in Oil Lamp Theater’s “The God Committee,” Oscar Madison in “The Odd Couple” and Clarence Darrow in “Never the Sinner” for Project 891 Theatre Company.
“In ‘Adrift,’ I play Judd, a high school principal who has a complicated relationship with his son. It’s the most complex role I’ve gotten to date,” Murphy said.
According to Murphy, “Adrift” is a memory play about father-and-son relationships, focusing on men who are in conflict with their father’s values as well as that of their teenage sons.
“It’s about father and sons exploring ups and downs, and how the sons become the fathers and how the fathers become the sons,” he said.
“It’s a deep play that questions how we define ourselves. Do we make the choices that define us, or do the circumstances of life define us?”
Murphy said he had previous experience with the show’s director, but he still auditioned to get the part in “Adrift.”
The play is an exciting departure for Murphy because, he said, it’s the first time he’s been in an original work.
Most of the plays he’s acted in previously were revivals, dramas and comedies that had been produced before.
“Being in a new play is very liberating because it hasn’t been determined how a particular role should be played,” Murphy said.
“Although the playwright is a big part of the process, we’re discovering what the characters are about so no one can really accuse you of playing the character wrong.
“We have a script and stage directions, but the drama is brand-new and fresh with no points of reference. It’s basically a blank slate for an actor.”
Murphy got into show business late in life.
He graduated with a degree in marketing from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
Murphy said he found that working in the marketing world for many years brought him no joy.
“I was like a fish out of water. I’m adaptable and can learn the levers to pull, but marketing was never right for me. I realized I had to make a change,” he said.
“The change came about slowly. It was a long process. It was 15 or 20 years ago that I took a class on ‘How to Get Rid of Your Inhibitions’ at the Discovery Center in Chicago.
“I’m pretty shy, and I thought the class would help. I enjoyed it and then followed it up with a basic acting class.
“At the time I had no idea to go any further with it, but a few years later I went back for more acting courses.
“It wasn’t cold turkey, though. It was a transition over a period of years. I kept signing up for more and more acting courses, and discovered it was something I was good at, so I decided to keep doing it.
“When I was chosen to be in ‘City of Angels’ for the Beverly Theatre Guild, things really took off. I had four different walk-on parts with a total of two lines, but after going out on a legitimate stage, I knew my life had changed forever.”
Once he shifted to acting, Murphy also made another change.
He used to live in Riverdale with his parents, but when he fell in love and married an actress named Marnie, he decided to move to Orland Park.
“It’s a wonderful place with lots of forested areas. As it has developed, the city has set aside a lot of open spaces and nature trails,” he said.
“Everything has worked out so well. I have the career that’s right for me, the wife I love and the perfect community to call home.”
Betty Mohr is a local freelance writer.