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Ted Donatos son Nolan didn’t stick to the hockey script, he chose the theater

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Donato instead chose the seductive footlights of the theatre, the place where he could pursue his deep love for singing and acting. Today, the youngest son of Ted Donatos, a former 5-foot 10-inch, 150-pound winger for Dexter Southfield School, dresses up as Berger, that long-necked hippie in Hair, the iconic late 60s musical brought to life locally. by the Company Theater in Norwell.

That’s right, Donato is a hippie, dude, and will be at least until the end of the August 21 plays. In life, like hockey, you just never know how the puck is going to bounce.

The Donato clan showed up in droves for last Friday’s opener, and we can confidently report that there wasn’t a hockey fight, a flashing red light, or a Zamboni to be found in the cozy 350-seat venue. At one point, though, the joint shook like an old hockey shed when a mock-up of a Vietnam-era helicopter swooped down from the rafters of the stage, amid eerie, ominous flashing lights.

We just had to bring that back, said Zoe Bradford, Company Theater owner/director for decades. We used that in Miss Saigon a few years ago.

For those old enough to remember Hairs’ first run in Boston, at the Wilbur in the spring of 1970, the music and effects were a delightful return. Donato, a confident, supple tenor, is sharp and captivating. The cast of nearly 30 rolls through the two acts with the efficiency, enthusiasm and confidence of a Stanley Cup champion.

(Aside from your trusty puck chronicler: Shawn Verrier, whose day job is teaching at Derby Academy, steals the spotlight in his role as Margaret Mead.)

The wig that Nolan Donato needs for his role took some getting used to.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Donato graduated from Providence College this spring with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts and was a late addition to Bradford’s production. Unable to find the right fit for Berger, she connected with him via Facebook and offered him a try-out after watching a short video he’d posted weeks earlier in Brighton of an open audition.

I knew nothing about him or his family, you know, that his father was a famous hockey player, Bradford said, noting that she knows little about sports. So thank goodness for old fashioned Facebook.

Donato’s vote, Bradford said, won her instantly. The challenge, she knew, would be that a blue-eyed child, respectfully and tightly cut, would wear a shoulder-length wig and turn into a rebellious, sometimes coarse-mouthed character. The wig alone was a challenge.

It’s heavy and it’s hot, Donato said. I’d grow my own hair if I could, but it wouldn’t look good on stage; my hair grows in all different directions.

A bigger challenge was the Berger persona. In his own words, Donato is quiet and reserved, the opposite of the rebellious, edgy Berger. During his four years at PC, Donato eagerly looked forward to singing 10 p.m. Sunday Mass on campus, with songs like You Were on the Cross and Building My Life being his favorites.

That was probably the best part of college, to be honest, he said. It was such a good way to connect with my faith.

Berger, whose faith community revolves around sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, forced Donato to connect with a time he didn’t experience and with a character unlike any he portrayed in college musicals like Youre a Good Man. , Charlie Brown, Something Rotten, and Violet. It was a range he liked.

I think they were a little skeptical about whether I could find that fire for playing George Berger, he said. I knew I had it in me. As we got further and further into rehearsal, I found fire to be someone who is rebellious and part of a revolution. It’s the first time I’ve played a character that’s kind of, you know, crazy.

Donatos’ oldest brother, Ryan, a former draft pick of the Bruins, just signed a one-year contract extension with the Seattle Kraken. Jack, 24, completed his hockey career this spring after four years at Harvard and wants to become a players’ agent. The younger sister, Maddie, 19, is a sophomore at the University of South Carolina.

His father, Ted, of course, played nearly 800 NHL games, more than 500 of them with the Bruins. Ted returned to his alma mater Harvard in 2004 and has been the men’s hockey coach ever since.

Nolan left organized, career-driven hockey after high school, although he briefly played club hockey on PC in his freshman year before opting for intramural play alone. In addition to his hair role, he is also building a solo singing/songwriting career and plans to move to New York City next year for a big opportunity.

I would like to continue pursuing theater and see where it leads me, he said. Go after New York for a while and see where it goes.

Broadway can be a very difficult game, one that will knock more players on the backside than Terry OReilly has ever sent down Causeway Street. Given her slice of acreage in the semi-professional theater ranks, Bradford thinks Donato has a chance.

I never encourage anyone to make a career out of it, Bradford mused. But if that’s all you can think about from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, then I think you’d better pursue it. Well, help you if we can.

If the theater gets its hooks in you, it could be the devil to shake. Regardless of your last name. Regardless of your brand.

For times of her performances and ticket availability, go to https://www.companytheatre.com.


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at [email protected]

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