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When Colleen Murphy graduated from Becker College in 1981 with her degree in social services, she certainly did not expect to be an award-winning producer and stage and screen actress one day. As she recalls, “I had some strong ideas about what I wanted to do after graduating from Becker and I am very happy with where I am today. Becker played a really valuable role in my life. I met my best friends in the world there – Penny Bacchiochi ’81 and Sharon Uhlman ’81. We are forever sisters.”
Since those days in Dalton Hall, the Leominster, Mass., native and St. Bernard’s High School graduate has led a wonderful life that has, of late, taken her to Hollywood and beyond. Before she caught the acting bug, and with her undergraduate experience from Becker as a foundation, Murphy went on to get a graduate degree from Assumption College in 1985 and from there she had a long career as a psychotherapist both in private practice and at Worcester’s AdCare Hospital.
“I was 29 years old; I already had an established career,” Murphy recalls. “Then that summer, I went from reading novels to reading plays. I started to feel a connection with the characters. Something just clicked and I wanted to study theater.”
Soon thereafter, Murphy moved from Webster, Mass., to Fairfield County, Conn., with her husband (who has since passed away) and she began studying each week at Manhattan’s Actor’s Conservatory. Over the next several years, theater and acting eventually replaced therapy and became her full-time profession.
Importantly, in 1995, Murphy met James “Jim” Noble and the two became friends and have acted on stage together quite often since then. Their most notable collaboration was in “A Delicate Balance” in New York and at the Theatre Artists Workshop of Westport in Norwalk – Connecticut’s parallel to the famous “The Actor’s Studio” in New York.
The two founded Open the Gate Pictures, LLC in November of 2005, a film company recognized by the Screen Actors Guild. In the short time since the company has been up and running it has already been the recipient of numerous honors for its critically-acclaimed movie short Glacier Bay. The 28-minute long film is “a humorous and tender love story that provides a peek in to the world of two seniors as they navigate through a family gathering with all its trappings.”
The movie, filmed in Connecticut, directed by Doug Moser and starring Dorothy Bryce, Jim Noble and Murphy, was first screened at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California in October of 2006 as part of the Foundation for the Advancement of Independent Films’ International Film Festival. To date, the film has garnered 11 award including Winner- Best of the Fest Short Drama and Best Actress from Breckenridge Film Festival; Winner – Best Film – Veneration Film Festival; Winner – Best Screenplay – Lake Forest Film Festival; Winner – Short Film Festival of India; Winner Top Ten Film – A Flickering Image Film Festival; and Winner – Audience Choice – Eureka Springs Digital Film Festival.
Currently, Murphy and her team at Open The Gate Pictures are making plans for their next project. Whatever does come next will have to wait just a bit because this winter Murphy will be spending her time focused on an acting role off-Broadway at The Barrow Group Theater Company. “Once this run is over, we’ll sit down and look over our options,” says Murphy. We have two full-length feature screenplays being polished by our writers and sitting with investors.” Also, look for the first episode of Young American Heroes on PBS in February. The episode is entitled: The Fredrick Douglass Story and stars Jamie Hector from the hit series The Wire and Heroes. Murphy and Mr. Noble teamed up with Palace productions on this project and are currently negotiating for additional television episodes.