I started 1989 living in Clarksville, back with my parents. But I did a show at Nashville Academy Theatre (now Nashville Children's Theatre). In Wiley and the Hairy Man, I played the Hairy Man. This is probably the hardest I've ever worked on stage in my entire life. I wore a huge fat suit, big heavy stomping boots, fake beard, fake mustache, fake eyebrows, fake nose, bald wig, and huge hairy wig on top of that. It takes big acting to live up to an appearance like that.
I Yosemite Sammed my way through the role, bellowing madly. This show had what has been for me the hugest spontaneous audience reaction I've ever experienced, at least that wasn't at the end of a musical number or something like that. As the Hairy Man, I tormented and terrorized Wiley all the way through the show. But it was well known that the Hairy Man was afraid of dogs, particularly Wiley's Dog (played by David Compton, who I'm about to do another show with in Company at Tennessee Rep). Finally, there was the long-awaited-for confrontation between the Hairy Man and Dog. Dog got Hairy Man down on the ground, and after a brief scuffle, he pulled off the Hairy Man's huge shaggy wig, revealing the bald wig. The place EXPLODED, every single performance. It was wonderful. But man, what a lot of work that role was.
And then guess what? Yes, you are correct, Gentle Reader: Galveston. But for the last time! This time we added South Pacific to the mix of Oklahoma! and The Lone Star. For the record, in South Pacific I played Buzz Adams, in Oklahoma! I was Cord Elam, and in The Lone Star I was the kindly Father Muldoon. Our preshow quartet was now a slicker, "Broadwayesque" affair, two guys and two girls. I earned enough Equity candidacy points that I could now simply buy my way into Equity whenever I wanted to.
Now, I don't want to create the impression that Galveston was not a good experience. I enjoyed going back, and seeing old friends. Being in the pre-show quartets was always fun. I got along with the management, and everybody there. Those were good times. But it did feel a little stagnant, and without earning the Equity points, I never would have kept going back.
So I feel like that period from mid-1986 through 1988 was basically a lonely time, and hard to feel like there was a forward direction in my life. But things really started to look up now. While in Galveston, I auditioned and was hired to be in the choruses of both Theatre Under the Stars and Houston Grand Opera. So, I moved to Houston, turned 26, and got an apartment.
At TUTS we did Mame, starring Juliet Prowse, and The King and I, with William Chapman. It was great to hang out with a consistent group of fun people. I was hired non-Equity, so that's how I started working at TUTS. At HGO, we did Jonathan Miller's production of The Mikado, starring Eric Idle. Monty Python fanatic though I was, I never imagined a path in the musical theatre would lead to actually working with a Python, but I did. We even got a rehearsal with Jonathan Miller! A wonderful experience.
Some interesting things happened in the bigger cultural picture in 1989. Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando opened. Animation had some sort of renaissance, with The Simpsons debuting on TV, and The Little Mermaid opening in theaters. On July 10th, Mel Blanc died. He was the Laurence Olivier of voice acting. And on July 11th, Laurence Olivier died. He was the Mel Blanc of stage and screen acting.
Knowing there were more shows with both TUTS and HGO coming next year, I went home to Clarksville for the holidays. Things were definitely looking up.