Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Grey Gardens - meet cast member Dick Reed

What do you find appealing or interesting about your character and this show? 
As a grandfather myself, it’s natural to try to help set my grandchildren on a path to a pleasant and meaningful future, like Bouvier. For Norman Vincent Peale, the chance to be something of a televangelist is great fun! At services, my Rabbi sometimes gets me feeling like NVP and I want to shout out “Hallelujah!,” but I’ve never had the guts to do so. I brought some of that feeling to this show.

What have you learned about yourself in playing the role of Bouvier & NVP? 
As an actor who has done dozens of roles in scores of productions I have been wonderfully surprised to learn so much stagecraft that I had not known. Chris Dykton is an amazing director. I sincerely hope to do other shows with him – providing there are roles for old farts like me! It’s so nice to have three surrogate grandchildren in the cast – and I feel like they ARE my grandchildren. That aspect of Blackjack Bouvier is easy to play.  The martinet father is tougher – albeit merited in the context of the play --  it is not something I enjoy.

What single word would you use to describe your character in “Grey Gardens”?
"Family". As I play two characters, I’ll go with the larger role – Blackjack Bouvier.  Lineage could work too – he wants his “family crest” to be “burnished,” but family works better for how I’m playing him. 

What do you want the audience to experience/take away from this show? 
I hope they have a very enjoyable time and walk out humming one of the tunes. Nicky McDonnell (who plays Edie) will break their hearts – both with what she does and, especially, with what she says in her songs. The lyrics and music are amazing, and she does them every justice. The cast as a whole is excellent and will present the audience the story of these two women in a way that will surprise, amuse and inform them. Their lives were both easy and hard, and this comes across extremely well in the play.

How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on? 
The main difference is one of production values. I’ve done more than 100 productions in the DMV area, including lots of shows that have won awards (I’m especially proud of British Embassy Players award for my King Arthur in Camelot), and the production of this one is the best I have ever been around. LTA and this production team have no peers in my 40 years of doing community theatre. From auditions to the first read-through to each rehearsal, everyone associated with the production is organized, available, helpful, understands conflicting schedules and teaches everyone – by word and by deed – how to be better storytellers. And isn’t that what we’re doing? Telling a story with songs.

How long have you been acting and what made you get involved with theatre? 
How did you get involved with LTA? I’ve been doing this for longer than half the cast has been alive (40 years)! My first theatrical role was to have been playing Hoss Cartwright in 1963 during the “Bonanza” era. Tragically, President Kennedy was assassinated on the day we were to open. Of course the show was cancelled. It was a lot of years later when I was working at the Naval Research Lab and my co-workers talked me into a show, “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” I was hooked and have done one or more shows a year ever since. LTA has always seemed out of my reach. The production schedule was too ambitious for me while I was working. Now that I’m retired and have more time, and LTA wanted a baritone/tenor aged 65-80, it was right in my wheelhouse. I auditioned and was lucky enough to get the role. I’ll be back!

What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theatre? 
Go for it! Really, that’s all there is to it. Everyone can sing and dance – honest! – it’s just up to the director and choreographer to use them properly. So many people are afraid to do either in front of an audience. The rewards are fabulous. Simply fabulous. Start small, if that’s easier, and then build. While there are truly amazingly talented people around, most of us are just folks who have learned to like singing and dancing on stage. It is truly addictive!

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