Saturday, August 10, 2013


1983, and back for the second half of my sophomore year at MSU, to play the title role in The Wanderer. An adaptation of Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes, this was a beautiful production directed by Gloria Baxter. It was a challenging script, and I don't think my acting skills were quite up to the challenge. But it was one of those life-changing experiences that only live theatre can bring about.

It seems like there was some other, smaller show in this when I was in a production of The Twin Menaechmi? But the school year ended with a production of As You Like It, in which I played the old shepherd Corin.

It was in this summer that I became a Professional Actor. Josie hired me to be in The Red Balloon Players, a troupe that went around to various parks in the Memphis area and performed three different, self-created shows. I'm sure my guitar-playing skills, modest though they may be, helped get me the gig. I stayed in the beautiful apartment of my new friend John Dye, while John went back home to Tupelo. I had to have a car! So my wonderfully generous parents got me a nice blue Toyota Corolla.

My junior year began, as I turned 20. I moved out of the dorms and shared an apartment with old friend Eddie Powers (see 1976). This was a great year for life-changing theatrical experiences, because this is the year that Keith Kennedy directed Strider. I believe there was exactly one month's time between the first day of auditions and opening night. I am reminded of the great quote attributed to Leonard Bernstein: "To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time." With Strider, we captured some sort of theatrical magic that can only have happened due to the pressures of time. It was a real breakthrough for me; I got to sing, play an actual grown-up man, and also play a wonderful, drunken, sad final scene. Keith is reported to have said that this was his favorite show he ever worked on. That makes me proud.

And to end the year, I ventured out into the larger Memphis theatrical community by playing Fred in A Christmas Carol at Theatre Memphis. This was the year the role of Scrooge was split between Sherwood Lohrey and Barry Fuller, two very different actors who both gave strong performances.

That's 1983.

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