Friday, November 9, 2018

Places, Please!

Steve's headshot, which I love

The Five Stages of an Actor’s Career (an old theatre joke)

(1) “Who is Hugh O’Brian?”
(2) “Get me Hugh O’Brian as the star of our next picture!”
(3) “Get me somebody who’s a Hugh O’Brian type.”
(4) “Get me a young Hugh O’Brian.”
(5) “Who WAS Hugh O’Brian?”

There actually was a Hugh O’Brian. He was a semi-successful movie star of the 1950s and 1960s, who would tell this joke on himself.  Sad but true—the shelf life of performers is, for the most part, relatively short. If you’re very lucky/extremely talented, you have a succession of hits and a long stretch in the limelight. For most, the arc is from obscurity back to obscurity. This field is especially cruel to middle aged women, especially those whose youthful beauty was a significant part of their appeal to producers and directors. Back in the 80s, Bo Derek was considered “the perfect 10.” Now, my kids and their peers draw a total blank when her name is mentioned.

However, there is a sweet spot for actors of a certain age (at least male actors-I know, so ridiculous). Anyway, my Steve has found it. After many years of toiling away in our children’s theatre, Steve finally has time to audition for plays and TV commercials and the like. And guess what? There is a TON of work for performers over age 60! Mind you, your character is usually called Grandpa or Great-Uncle Joe, but who cares? Not Stevo!

During the past few years, he has understudied major roles in several big Philadelphia musical productions, including High Society, Funnyman, and Gypsy. The robust good health of the actors in these shows, alas, meant no stage time for my hubby (in Gypsy, they at least did one understudy performance, so we got a chance to enjoy his portrayal of Herbie). Steve has really hustled to get his picture and resume out there, and to attend as many auditions as possible.

And it is paying off. Steve has landed not one, but two good parts in really solid shows. In January, he will be in Guys and Dolls at a theater in Wilmington, DE. Currently, he is in rehearsal for A Wonderful Life, which will run next month in New Jersey. In Wonderful Life, which is based on the classic movie starring Jimmy Stewart, Steve has the pivotal part of Uncle Billy, whose absent-mindedness leads to nephew George’s despair (and the ensuing visit from Clarence the Angel.) Our fam has rallied around him, running lines at night, and practicing the songs (Sher and Yaj at the piano). We can’t wait to see the show, and to cheer our favorite character.

Steve always did play “older.” Nowadays, there is no need for the white shoe polish he used to use to turn his hair gray for shows. He is the real deal, and we are delighted that he is coming into his own as an actor, as he approaches the big 7-0.

Break a leg, honey!

Nightly homework!

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