Don’t Call it a Comeback: My Journey Back to the Stage

A couple years ago, I decided to embark on a new adventure—I returned to the world of theater after an absence of over twenty years. To be sure, it had not been twenty years since I’d last been on stage. Up until the end of 2015, I was the keyboardist and backing vocalist of HyJinx (later Lovely Rita), an extremely active cover band. At our height, we were playing three, four, even five times a week. It was my full time job, and for a while, it felt like I was living the dream. Unfortunately, over time the dream started feeling like a nightmare, so I had to move on.

After struggling for a bit, I fell into a customer service job (not my jam) which eventually morphed into a marketing/content writing job (closer to my jam). I figured my time as an entertainer was at an end, and I was cool with that. I had no desire to get back into the cover band scene. I was content to work on original music projects like The Other Side of Never, get silly with my homies in The Rockadudes, and engage in some serious D&D action.

Rockadudes recording session, 2015

Getting back into theater wasn’t on my radar. But when a good friend asked me to participate in a one-act competition for which she had written a (quite excellent) play, I couldn’t say no. I ended up appearing in two different plays in the event and I had a blast! My interest in theater was rekindled, so I started looking for other opportunities.

That next opportunity presented itself in the small but fun role of Martin (aka Guard #1) in 1984 at Chapel Street Players. I got to lurk around sinisterly and beat up poor Winston Smith. The cast was great and the direction, staging, and sets were impressive. But what doing 1984 truly did for me was make me realize what I really wanted—to be in a musical!

The sinister Martin (Jason Beil) lurks ominously in the background while O’Brien (Zack Jackson) toys with Winston (Patrick Cathcart)

Pursuing that ambition, I auditioned for Heathers: The Musical at Street Lamp Productions (which I’ve documented in a previous post). Suffice it to say, I got to sing a little, dance a little, act a little, and mourn “My Dead Gay Son.” Not only did I meet some talented young actors (some of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with again), but I also truly rediscovered my love of performing and realized that this was to be my new hobby and passion. I was only getting started!

Next, I played the part of Annas in Jesus Christ Superstar at Milburn Stone Theatre. Little did I know I would soon be warmly welcomed into the family at MST. After doing six shows there, I am happy to say I consider it my home theater. I was honored to be cast in the MST productions of Peter and the Starcatcher (Lord Aster), Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude! (Jon Arbuckle), Heathers (Ram’s Dad/Big Bud Dean/Coach Ripper), and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Robert Lemanteur).

After Gentlemen, I strayed from MST to join the cast of The Rocky Horror Show as Eddie/Dr. Scott at Theatre N in Wilmington. Theatre N is home to Frankie’s Midnight Runners, a shadow cast who host late-night viewings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show a couple times a month. Several members of the shadow cast performed in the live show and did a remarkable job! It was the first time Theatre N hosted a live production, and I was proud to be part of it.

Next, I returned to MST to star in Chess as American champion Frederick “Freddie” Trumper. I was thrilled to be able to perform the insanely challenging “Pity the Child” and the classic 80s hit “One Night in Bangkok.” It was a privilege to share the stage with such talented performers as Bridget DuBrey (Florence), Anthony Vitalo (Anatoly), Mike Renn (The Arbiter), and Nick Castillo (Molokov). Although the show ran only one weekend, it is an experience I’ll never forget.

Now it’s February 2019, and I find myself rather bored after performing back-to-back shows for the better part of two years. Fortunately, my break will not be lasting long. In April I’ll be heading to “slower lower” Delaware to perform the role of Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar at Milton Theatre. And after that, in May, I’ll be returning to Street Lamp Productions to play Mike in Freaky Friday. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

What’s next? I really don’t know, but I hope to keep this train rolling for as long as I can. And somewhere along the way I hope to join up with my boys in the Rockadudes to finish our second album, as well as wrap up work on The Other Side of Never. All this and a full time job.

Crazy? You bet. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Photos on this page by Scott Serio (MST photos), Meghan Tranauskas (Rocky Horror), and Brian Linnen (Chess curtain call)

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