The site of the former Station Night Club in West Warwick. WPRO file photo.
By Kim Kalunian, WPRO News
Nicholas O’Neill’s play never made it to the stage before the tragic night of Feb. 20, 2003.
At age 18, O’Neill was the Station Night Club Fire’s youngest victim. Just a year before he lost his life, O’Neill penned “They Walk Among Us,” a story about deceased teenagers that return to earth as angels.
In honor of the 10thanniversary of the Station Night Club Fire, Ocean State Theatre Company (OSTC), a new theater in Warwick, has announced that they will perform a staged reading of O’Neill’s play on March 10.
Several months ago, O’Neill’s father, David Kane, reached out to OSTC’s Producing Artistic Director, Amiee Turner and Managing Producer, Joel Kipper. He spoke with them about his son’s play, and asked if they had any interest in staging it.
“They were really very excited about it,” he said.
“I was very touched when Nicholas’ family approached us to see if we would consider staging a reading of ‘They Walk Among Us,’” said Turner in a statement.
“They Walk Among Us” was previously staged at the Stadium Theater in Woonsocket a year after the Station Fire. It’s also available on DVD and had a performance in New York.
It’s believed that O’Neill had written the play for an All Children’s Theater playwriting competition, but he never officially submitted his work. After O’Neill’s death, one of his friends called Kane – she had discovered the script for “They Walk Among Us” at the bottom of her closet.
The play, which O’Neill penned at 17, follows three angels who help a young man struggling with his sexuality.
“We’re excited and very grateful that the Ocean State Theatre is showing so much appreciation not only for Nicky’s work but for the Station Fire anniversary,” said Kane.
O’Neill’s brother, David, will play the leading role in OSTC’s staged reading, and O’Neill’s girlfriend, Gabby, will play Grace, an angel. O’Neill’s other brother, Christian, will work side by side with director Amiee Turner to help with the presentation. Actors from OSTC’s current production of “Rent” will round out the cast.
“Although I was not yet living in Rhode Island, I vividly remember hearing news of the fire,” said Turner in a statement. “Staging the reading at our new theatre, less than three miles from the site of the tragedy, makes this event quite poignant.”
“We are very, very grateful that people who were not directly tied to the Station Fire have shown so much appreciation for the people who passed [or were] injured,” said Kane.
"They Walk Among Us" will be presented at Ocean State Theatre for one performance only on March 10 at 7:00 pm. The theatre is located at 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, RI. General admission tickets are $20.00 with partial proceeds being donated to The Station Fire Memorial Foundation.