Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Theater Memories Part 10: Acting/Directing

In my high school production of 
The School for Scandal
As long as I'm reminiscing about all the shows I've seen, I will also include all the shows I acted in and directed before switching to being a theater critic:

Acting roles:
High School: A stable boy in The Admirable Crichton, Sir Benjamin Backbite in The School for Scandal, Zoltan Karpathy and chorus member in two different productions of My Fair Lady, Mr. Lundie in Brigadoon, Herr Zeller the nasty Nazi in The Sound of Music, various roles in Tarradiddle Tales (children's show).

Barn Playhouse, Jeffersonville, PA: Albert Amundsen in A Thousand Clowns, Geoffrey in The Lion in Winter, Foot/Moon in After Magritte/The Real Inspector Hound, Harding in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Stage Manager in Our Town, File in The Rainmaker, chorus in Can-Can, Jonathan in Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Momma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad (workshop), policeman in Wait Until Dark.

Community Theater in Philadelphia area: Edmund Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night, Sparger in Kennedy's Children, Henry Antrobus in The Skin of Our Teeth, the butler in The Philadelphia Story, Don Basile in The Barber of Saville (the play, not the opera), the mean cousin in Holiday, a prince in a fairy-tale play called The Square Egg of Gratchit (so it would rhyme with hatch-it, get it?).

Church group: Grab and Grace, an allegorical fable in which I played the quality of Grace as a mischievous young boy. 

Plays for Living: Some kid whose girlfriend is an alcoholic. (The only acting work for which I was paid.)

University of Pittsburgh: Snobby Price in Major Barbara, Paul Cunningham in The Typists, title role in Pirandello's Chee-Chee.

Scotch and Soda (non-theater majors at Carnegie-Mellon University): two original musicals, one was about Robin Hood (I played a villainous monk), the other about a young girl making it in the big city (I played her father).

Temple University: Bri in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Rev. Samuel Parris in the Crucible, Natwick in Pvt. Wars, the judge in another Pirandello play, the Fox and the Hare in Don't Count Your Chickens Until They Cry Wolf.

Heights Players, Brooklyn Heights: Danny in Street Scene, clerk in Witness for the Prosecution, chorus in L'il Abner and one of the sons in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Bob Crachit in A Christmas Carol (twice), some animal (I think a Mole, Toad's best friend) in The Wind in the Willows, a townsperson in The Visit, a pirate and the crocodile in Peter Pan.

Various Community Theaters in Brooklyn: Ernest in Alan Ayckbourne's Bedroom Farce; Sam Shepard's Icarus' Mother, Sasha in Room Service, hotel clerk/barber/ancient bellhop in Born Yesterday; the old actor in The Fantasticks (this show was directed by Jeffrey Seller who later produced Rent, Avenue Q, In the Heights, and Hamilton; the music director and the actor playing El Gallo was Andrew Lippa, who later composed The Wild Party and The Addams Family.)

American Shakespeare Theater (an Off-Off-Broadway company): Snug the Joiner/Fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream, a servant in The Rivals, a lawyer in Sodom and Gorilla, a musical based on the Scopes Monkey trial.

The all-critics cast 
of Androcles and the Lion.
The Shaw Project: I introduced a reading of Shaw's Buoyant Billions which included a cast of Bryan Batt, Veanne Cox, George S. Irving, Loni Ackerman, Charlotte Moore. Then I participated in an all-critics reading of Androcles and the Lion as the director of the coliseum where the Christians are fed to the lions. (Both directed by David Staller) The rest of the company included Michael Schulman of the New Yorker as Androcles, Michael Musto as the Lion, Raven Snook as Androcles' wife, Michael Feingold as Caesar, David Cote, Adam Feldman, Elisabeth Vincentelli, Michael Riedel, Peter Filichia, Brian Scott Lipton, David Finkel, Roma Torre, Patrick Pachecho, Frank DiLella, Andy Propst, Joe Dziemianowicz, Jesse Oxfeld, David Belcher, Jason Zinoman.

Film/TV roles: A student film at NYU, a doctor in the emergency room and a person on the beach in Longtime Companion; contestant on the game shows Clash and Cash Cab. (I won a pair of sun glasses on the former and split $900 with my friend Diane on the latter).


Gallery Players: Neil Simon's Plaza Suite; Heights Players workshop productions: Michael Weller's Split, John Lewis Carlino's Snowangel, five monologues from Jane Martin's Talking With, William Hoffman's As Is (the cast and I all chipped in later and rented an Off-Off-Broadway theater space for a weekend of performances).

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