Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Life In The Theatre (Intro)

me as Mr. Kirby (R) with Priscilla McFarland as Mrs. Kirby
and Diane Whitenack as Gay Wellington (2002)
As I get ready to go do our last show of MAME! with the Gahanna Community Theatre later this afternoon, I wanted to take this time to write a quick note about why I do theatre. Short answer: not sure, haha! I think I have some sort of drive to be creative and it manifests itself in drawing, singing, telling jokes, writing (this blog?), and, I guess, performing. I've never had any particular passion to be a "star" or a lead; I've always been satisfied with the bit or supporting parts. But when I'm surrounded by other people who have that "bug" to perform, I guess it's contagious enough to infect me, too.

My first actual "part" on stage was in high school. For three years I was only on the Stage Crew, but for the Senior Play I played the Chef in some forgettable play called MRS. McTHING. The play was stupid but the experience was fun. I also helped out in some American History Revue, singing and doing one or two small bits ala the old variety shows. That, too, was fun. And I got to kiss the girl! Mostly, though, I enjoyed crew work on shows like HELLO DOLLY, GREASE, and A RAISIN IN THE SUN.

Fast forward about 20 years when I came back from Japan and took a job in Portland, Indiana. There wasn't a whole lot to do in Portland, but there *was* community theatre. So after I went to see their version of ANNIE and verified that they didn't suck (haha) I went to Open Auditions for YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU. I had wanted to introduce myself and volunteer my Stage Crew expertise. However.....! Jay County Civic Theatre suffers from a chronic need for male participants (aka "you have a penis, you have a part") and I went away from the audition with the role of Mr. Anthony Kirby, father of the lead. YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU is still my favorite show and experience; the role was just big enough for me to not fret over too much, the people I worked with were fantastic, and there was a minimum amount of stress. As a newbie, I really didn't know there was plenty of drama behind the scenes, even in comedies! This show, however, was almost 100% fun. Plus the book itself by Moss Hart & George S. Kaufman is just so well written, it's impossible to not enjoy it.

That was the beginning of a fun time with Jay County Civic Theatre. Even after I moved to Columbus I remained the Home Page Editor,so I went to every show and took cast and show photos. It was fun.

Eventually, however, I got that *itch* again. I looked around my neighborhood and found community theatre groups in two nearby towns: Pickerington and Gahanna. Gahanna was putting on GUYS & DOLLS, an old favorite; Pickerington was putting on BYE BYE BIRDIE at the same time as an Indiana show. So almost by default, I ended up auditioning for Gahanna. They wanted a song with music....and the only thing I felt confident enough to do was "The Star Spangled Banner." Now, this is a notoriously difficult song to sing, so I figured if I could do it to their satisfaction I would be in. I got to the higher notes ("and the rockets' red glare...!") and they stopped me and said I was IN. :-) Last year was a lot of fun hanging out with "the gangsters." I think I actually had one or two lines; otherwise I was strictly chorus. But this was just the introduction that I was looking for.

me (third from L) as one of "the guys" in GUYS & DOLLS (2011)
This year for Gahanna's production of MAME I almost didn't audition. Because my schedule has been so crazy and I didn't really know the show itself, I initially intended to sit it out. However, a few guys from last year and the producer, too, FB'd me and said "I better get my heinie in the show." And now I'm glad I did. The music and dancing has been very difficult, but last week when it all finally *clicked* we've been able to enjoy the whole thing. I actually get a role this year as Stage Manager. (If you're familiar with the show, I'm the guy who says, "Sorry, Moon Lady.") We've had two great shows, and now we have one more today and then we're done for another year...and I think I'll keep coming back as long as I can. 

I'll be back in a few days with pictures from MAME. Until then... 

On With The Show!

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