Newton Native Lends Knowledge of Lake Lingo for New Play

Born and raised in Nonantum, Alan Flynn helped show a playwright and director a thing or two about The Lake, the setting for the new play "The Prince of Atlantis."

When one stops and thinks about the city of Newton, one doesn't often consider that a translator may be needed to walk through its village streets. 

But when former Oak Hill resident and playwright Steven Drukman decided to base his newest play in Nonantum, he needed some help with the local dialect. 

Enter: Alan Flynn. 

"I went through [the play] and corrected some words, added some words...I took them down to The Lake and we drove around, I showed them the sights," says Flynn. "That's where I grew up."

Flynn, the city's supervisor of custodians, recently acted as a consultant for Drukman's new play The Prince of Atlantis, which will premiere this spring in California. The play takes place in The Lake (or Nonantum to the non-locals) and chronicles the family life, trials and tribulations of Joey Colletti, a seafood importer who lands in minimum-security prison. 

But in order to get the dialect right -- words like "wonga," "mush" and "jival" -- the California-based actors and director had to go straight to the source. So, earlier this month Drukman and Director Warner Shook paid Flynn a visit. 

Flynn, who now lives in Waltham, grew up in Nonantum where his family owned a local bar. Back then, the bar was called The Place. Now, it's called . 

As an expert on The Lake, Flynn was first tasked with looking through The Prince of Atlantis script and checking for inaccuracies. After looking through the play dialogue Flynn says he had to make a few changes, including the name of the local sub shop.

In the original version, Drukman called it "Fat Sal's Subs," but if the play wanted to stay true to its source, the name would be , Flynn says. The Watertown Street sub shop was where his mother worked in the 60s and 70s. 

But it didn't end with the dialect -- for roughly five hours, Flynn says he, Drukman and Shook walked around The Lake area, all the while talking and taking photos. The group had lunch at Fiorella's, stopped by the iconic Nonantum clock and viewed the murals at Pellegrini Park. 

They also made a stop in to view the historic Nonantum photographs hanging in the back of the store.

"While we were sitting there, they had their phones out texting [the actors], shooting pictures of me and taping me," Flynn says. 

In the next couple weeks, Flynn says the director has planned a Skype session between Flynn and the cast members of the play, including Matthew Arkin (son of actor Alan Arkin), who stars in the play.

Flynn's name will also be printed in The Prince of Atlantis playbill, he says, and a copy will be mailed to him once they're printed up. 

The Prince of Atlantis is set to have its world premiere at the South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, California on March 30. It is scheduled to run through April 29. 

Editor's note: Matthew Arkin will star in The Prince of Atlantis, but not his brother Adam. The two took part in a reading of the play in 2011, but only Matthew will appear in the actual production.

Divya February 01, 2014 at 06:08 PM
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