Playing a new role: New London City Clerk Nathan Caron stars in ‘The Visitor’

Nathan Caron
Nathan Caron

In his day job, Nathan Caron is New London's city clerk.

When he's off work, though, he takes on another role - literally.

Caron is starring in Eugene J. Celico's new play, "The Visitor," in Westerly.

Acting isn't a new interest for Caron. The Colchester native earned his bachelor's degree in theater from the University of Connecticut. He then, though, got his master's degree in education from St. Joseph College in West Hartford and taught eighth grade at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School before becoming city clerk in December 2011.

Celico, who is also directing "The Visitor" for his Stage Door Theater Company, met Caron via another theater production and then cast him to play Doubting Thomas in a staging of "The Last Supper" earlier this year.

"Nathan brought a whole different point of view to the role of Doubting Thomas," Celico says. "People were coming up to me in the green room, saying, 'Where did you find this guy?'"

So, when he wrote "The Visitor," Celico approached Caron, and Caron loved the script.

Caron describes himself as a fan of Celico's work and says, "With all good plays, the social issues and the things that are just under the surface of the words are very accessible and universal. So when I read through ('The Visitor'), I immediately connected with the content and the material. That was what really drew me into the project."

"The Visitor" is a two-person play starring Caron and Mary Sue Chiaradio as a couple dealing with life, love and loss. This husband and wife have been married for perhaps 40 or 50 years - the script never specifies exactly how long. Martin Washington is a bookkeeper in a mental institution. Eleanor Washington is a stay-at-home wife. They live a very routine existence in their fictional Rhode Island town. They do the same things every day. They talk about the same things.

Most human beings do tend to live routine lives, Celico says.

"Some people adjust to it. Some people don't. These two have, because they're truly in love," Celico says, adding that this is a story of romance.

One day, though, Eleanor broaches a subject that unsettles Martin: She asks if he has ever thought about which one of them might die first.

Celico says, "Part of the reason I wrote 'The Visitor' was to get people to think about the end of their lives - what will happen to one if the other one goes, who would be better suited to go first so the other could survive in a very productive way."

Caron says his character is forced to confront realities he's not necessarily comfortable facing. The issues, though, are ones that everyone has to deal with.

Caron may be 29, but Celico says that he utterly transforms himself into an old man through his acting - and with a little help from makeup.

"He brings things to the character that I, as the writer, never even envisioned," Celico says.

"The Visitor" is staged in a minimalistic way. Most of Martin and Eleanor's discussions take place where most Americans reveal secrets and talk about private matters, Celico says - at the kitchen table.

This marks Stage Door Theater Company's fourth production at the Immaculate Conception Church Hall over the past two years. Stage Door just built a black-box theater in the church basement, which it will use for this production.

"It's a very intimate experience. It only seats 55 people," Celico says.

Caron was intrigued with the idea of performing in such a small space.

"It is in-your-face. The audience is right there. You can't hide," he says.

"The Visitor," Immaculate Conception Church Hall, 111 High St., Westerly; Stage Door Theater Company; tonight and through June 29; 7:30 p.m. tonight-Fri. and June 27-29, and 2 p.m. Sunday; seating limited; $14; (401) 426-0848.

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