Anyone looking to slip into the popular Pleasant Street Tea Company for much of the past week may have done a double-take when they found the shop had seemingly been converted to another pizza place.
Alas, “Fluke’s Famous House of Pizza” was not to last. The signs and other changes visitors found within and without what is normally the downtown coffee shop were merely props and part of a set for the Showtime TV pilot “The Wrong Mans.” Filming in and around Brown’s Mall and at other downtown locations took place Monday through Thursday.
Sabrina Wolfe, who works at the Tea Company, noted that the coffee shop was open throughout the shooting, leading to some interesting twists for the business.
“We had people coming in and asking to be delivery drivers,” she said, “and some people did try to order pizza.”
“People called and ordered pizza, too,” she said, “which makes no sense, because the number (the film crew) listed on the sign wasn’t even our number. It was crazy.”
While the changes at Pleasant Street Tea Company began taking place the week before, work on the pilot began in earnest on Monday, and Pleasant Street wasn’t alone in undergoing a few changes for the shoot. Crews from North Hollywood’s Patch Bay Studios and others working on the pilot project also transformed the basement of Gloucester’s City Hall into a mailroom for shooting on Wednesday, returning it to its original state in time for business on Thursday,
Back at Pleasant Street, Wolfe said everything was “back to normal” on Friday, with the “House of Pizza” signs already a thing of the past.
“It was fun. It was a good experience,” she said. “I wish we could have left (the House of Pizza signs) up for Halloween.”
Soaring lobster sales
The sales of lobster rolls hit record numbers this week — on at least one front.
Students from the Gloucester High School Interact Club, the high school affiliate of the Gloucester Rotary Club, packed and delivered 529 lobster roll lunches around Cape Ann on Friday. That’s the most the club has ever sold during its annual fundraiser, according to Christina Raimo, the executive director of the Gloucester Education Foundation who also advises the Interact program.
The fundraiser took in $7,933 and raised a net $4,500 for the club, Raimo said. That’s 50 percent more than the $3,000 raised when the students sold a previous record 400 lobster roll lunches a year ago.
Students had taken orders for the lunches earlier in the week. They began packing the food at 8 a.m. Friday at The Open Door food pantry on Emerson Avenue with a goal of delivering all of the meals to residents and businesses at lunchtime.
Each lunch package, sold for $15, included a lobster roll, a bag of chips and a home-baked cookie. Proceeds going to the Interact Club will support student projects that include planning and presenting an annual holiday party for pupils at Pathways for Children, other parties for students in Gloucester’s public schools, and assisting with the annual holiday store at Wellspring House.
City Hall isn’t usually a spooky building, but it will take on haunting and celebratory tones this Sunday.
The occasion is the city’s annual Halloween party, which will run in and around City Hall from 2 to 4 p.m., rain or shine, Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken emphasized.
The event is slated to include hayrides, a haunted house presentation, face painting, food, games, jewelry making, a bounce house and other fun.
All of the activities are free. In the event of bad weather, the bounce house will be moved around the corner and indoors to the Cape Ann YMCA, 71 Middle St., with other events held inside City Hall, 9 Dale Ave.
Children of all ages are welcome to attend, but all kids must be accompanied by an adult, the mayor’s announcement said.
The world premiere and Gloucester Stage production of “My Station In Life,” local playwright Ken Riaf’s piece spotlighting Simon Geller, has captured the spirit of one of Gloucester’s true characters.
Geller, portrayed masterfully by actor Ken Baltin, not only ran his WVCA classical music programming single-handedly, but gained national support when he took on and won a battle against the Federal Communications Commission while temporarily holding off a takeover effort by the Grandbanke corporation to gain control of his airwaves.
But visiting audiences may not realize that, in learning about one Gloucester character, they get to see one of the city’s contemporary characters on stage for a few minutes as well.
While Baltin and his Geller portrayal dominate the piece, the supporting cast includes two appearances by James “Jimmy T” Tarantino, the longtime Gloucester dory rower and waterfront activist. Tarantino earned fame in his own right while appearing in the 2010 season of CBS TV’s “Survivor.” Tarantino — whose run at the $1 million prize at the time sparked weekly viewing parties at a few Gloucester bars and clubs — lasted just four weeks on the show, but at least bested the show’s other “Jimmy” — former Dallas Cowboys and University of Miami football coach Jimmy Johnson, who was sent packing the week before.
In “Station,” Tarantino shows up as a mail carrier, as a ship’s captain whose fishing vessel is battling a heavy storm at sea, and then plays a part in a touching audio moment late in the play though he doesn’t appear onstage at the time. He said he was asked by Riaf, a friend and Gloucester attorney, to seek out the brief role.
Admitting he’s not a regular actor, Tarantino said prior to a performance last weekend that he gleaned a lot for the piece just working with and listening to Robert Walsh, the theater’s artistic director who directs “My Station in Life.”
“He gave us a lot of good tips,” Tarantino said. “It’s all been good, and it’s been fun.”
The show closes this weekend. Performances are Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Gloucester Stage Company, 267 E. Main St., Gloucester. Tickets available at gloucesterstage.com.