Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog



After Franklin Woolsey, a famous early twentieth-century novelist, dies mid-sentence, his long-time secretary, Myra Babbage, continues to write the story, claiming that she is still taking dictation from the deceased author. Conflicts arise between Myra, Vivian (Woolsey’s jealous widow), and other skeptics who believe that Myra is only finishing the novel for fame and fortune. Is she perpetrating a fraud, or does her insistent claim hold some truth? Written by Michael Hollinger and directed by Charles Towers, Ghost-Writer runs April 19 – May 13 at Merrimack Repertory Theatre. Tickets are available online at or by calling 978-654-4MRT.

Ghost-Writer will feature Rebecca Harris as Myra Babbage, Dan Kremer as Franklin Woolsey, and Maureen Garrett as Vivian Woolsey. Rebecca Harris has been involved in several other MRT productions: Mrs. Whitney (currently playing), The Missionary Position, and Fabuloso, and Maureen Garrett returns after previously appearing in Mrs. California. Dan Kremer will be making his MRT debut. The creative team for Ghost-Writer consists of Bill Clarke (Scenic Design), Deb Newhall (Costume Design), Dan Kotlowitz (Lighting Design), and Jason Weber (Sound Design).

Ghost-Writer is a magical play” says MRT Artistic Director Charles Towers. “In it, playwright Michael Hollinger has brilliantly interwoven literary finesse, psychic speculation, soul-mate romance, wry humor and genuine mystery. It is a pleasure to savor his craft as a writer, and to discover how he packs so much intellectual delight and emotional pull in this three-actor, eighty minute jewel.”

In the fall of 2011, Ghost-Writer received the “Independence Foundation Award for Outstanding New Play” at the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. The play is also a winner of the prestigious “2010 Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award.”

Playwright Michael Hollinger says that the inspiration for Ghost-Writer came from an anecdote about Henry James and his secretary who typed his stories as he dictated them. As the story goes, the two became very close and when James died, the secretary claimed to continue receiving dictation from him. “My mother had died shortly before I encountered this story, and, through conversations with my father, I began thinking about ‘the presence of absence’ — that is, the power that a departed loved one holds over us, and how we negotiate the space left by that person,” says Hollinger. He also states that he found inspiration in reflecting upon the creative process behind writing a play.

Hollinger has seen a great deal of success as a playwright with such works as Opus, Tooth and Claw, Red Herring, Incorruptible, An Empty Plate in the Café Du Grand Boeuf, and Tiny Island. Starting his career as a musician, he says that he sees some strong similarities in the way that he writes music and the way that he writes plays, considering his plays compositions. Several awards have been given to Hollinger for his work including: Steinberg/ATCA New Play Citation, a Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award, the Frederick Loewe Award for Musical Theatre, two Barrymore Awards, and fellowships from the Independence Foundation, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

MRT’s 2011-2012 Season is sponsored by Lowell Bank. Ghost-Writer is sponsored by University of Massachusetts Lowell with additional support from The Eagle Tribune. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


Maureen Garrett (Vivian Woolsey) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: Mrs. California. Regional: Les Liasions Dangereuses, Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B., Virginia Stage Company, As You Like It, Quartermaine’s Terms, Walnut Street Theatre, Mrs. California, Capitol Repertory Company, Last Looks, East Coast Arts, Self-Defense, Hedda Gabler, The Birthday Party, The Glass Menagerie, and The Royal Family TV: Guiding Light (nominated for three Daytime Emmy awards), Ryan’s Hope Education: Universitat Munchen, Germany, Temple University, Pennsylvania, Villanova, Pennsylvania

Rebecca Harris (Myra Babbage) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: Mrs. Whitney, Fabuloso, The Missionary Position. Off Broadway: LIFEGAME, Enter the Night. Off-Off-Broadway: True Crimes, Gint!, American Silents, B & G and Voyage of the Carcass. Regional: The 39 Steps, Mother Teresa is Dead, The Missionary Position, Mezzulah 1946, A Picasso, Fiction, String of Pearls, City Theatre in Pittsburgh; Scramble, Westport Country Playhouse; Centennial Casting, Virginia Stage; Mauritius, Bad Dates, Theater Squared; Frame 312, The Alliance Theatre; The Play About the Baby, The Alley Theatre; Last Chance for a Slow Dance, New York Stage and Film; The Exonerated, The Birthday Party, The Real Thing, Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre. Television: Three Rivers, Life on the Line, Sex and the City, Law and Order. Film: Road, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Unstoppable. Education: MFA, Columbia University, New York.

Dan Kremer (Franklin Woolsey) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut. Off Broadway: Richard II (Gaunt) Pearl Theatre Company. Regional: Julius Caesar (Julius Caesar), Romeo and Juliet, (Capulet), Antony & Cleopatra (Enobarbus), Shakespeare Theatre Company; King Lear (Lear), The Matchmaker (Vandergelder), Tuesdays with Morrie (Morrie), Utah Shakespeare Festival; Copenhagen (Nils Bohr), Clarence Brown Theatre; The Tempest (Prospero), As You Like It (Jacques), Measure for Measure (Duke), Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oberon), The White Devil (deMedici), Major Barbara (Undershaft), La Bête (Elomire), Pravda (Lambert LeRoux), Oleanna (John), The Majestic Kid premier (Judge Billy), Emma’s Child premier (Henry) Oregon Shakespeare Theatre (14 Seasons); American Conservatory Theatre, Denver Center, Geva, McCarter, Milwaukee Rep, Seattle Rep, Yale Repertory Theatre. Film: The Fugitive, Living Will, Four Diamonds. Education: MFA Southern Methodist University, BFA, MFA. Other: Author of The Chase, a stage adaptation of Venus and Adonis.

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