Gene Kelly was the first performer to really set my hair on fire.
It was 1974 during a family summer vacation to see relatives in Minnesota and one day we all went to see “That’s Entertainment!” Kelly’s talent was enormous, of course, and I was moved by it, but I was really grabbed by the joy and charisma that radiated from him like a human expression of nuclear fusion. I’d never seen the like and I literally danced out of the theater swinging around lamp posts as we made our way down the street. Years later when I learned that my father’s cousin, John Battles, had on Broadway originated the role of Gabey in “On the Town” and that Kelly went on to portray him in the film version I happily accepted the earlier event as fateful.
Not to say that I became a song and dance man. Not yet, anyway.
I am a classically trained actor playing in both comedic and dramatic roles. In the completion of a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara I spent three years in an academy style environment in the Department of Dramatic Arts fine arts program for actors. We did daily courses in voice and movement for stage with laboratory classes covering various acting styles. The Stanislavski system provided the fundamentals of the process. This all was coupled with academic courses in dramatic literature, several required commitments serving in production technical support, and – when you were lucky enough to be cast – nightly show production rehearsal or performance. It was a rich experience and I was fortunate to have persisted through until the end.
Highlights in the time since have come in both performance opportunities and continued training.
In the latter case, a trip to Guanajuato, Mexico, to spend eight weeks studying with pantomime and clown theater maestro Sigfrido Aguilar stands out. Maestro Aguilar stresses a notion of “pure craziness” as a path towards universal comic moments. It helped to take an edge off of my own approach as it existed that tended to kill the comedy I was aiming for.
Standing out in the former is a chance to perform a lead in a stage production of a Shakespeare comedy under the direction of Jared Sakren at the Southwest Shakespeare Company. Mr. Sakren has an enormous talent for bringing together production elements, which in the case of Shakespeare is no mean trick. Ours was an American West period take on “The Comedy of Errors” played as farce to nth degree. It was every night very rigorous mental and physical exercise.
Looking toward the future I am hopeful for more of the same both back on stage and before the camera. Immediately up is a feature film production in the Western genre in which I will play the lead villain. This is something of dream come true and I and am looking forward to it becoming a stand out experience of its own.
Sept. 9, 2010, Los Angeles, CA