So, I think I’m an actor now?

I think I’ll go ahead and add “actor” to my resumé, not that I’ll be submitting a resumé to anyone anytime soon … if ever.

I never considered myself an actor through the series of radio-show style plays I’ve been in, no matter how fun it was to play Uncle Billy from It’s a Wonderful Life or get all hicked-up to play a country bumpkin 1930s movie reviewer. Then there was the banging my head against a wall in a yet-to-be-released film and dying in a World War II-themed film.

Nor did I really consider myself an actor after portraying a poker player in The Odd Couple last July. I memorized lines and ate a sandwich every performance, but while I acted, I wasn’t an actor.

But now things are different; I have a starring role to my credit … something I didn’t even know I was capable of when asked to be part of a two-person play. The first time reading through the script for Kalamazoo, one of my reactions was: I have an entire page of lines to start Scene 4? How am I supposed to do that?

But, with my director’s encouragement and a few tips on memorizing oodles of material, I successfully portrayed Irving, a widowed, mid-60-ish New York Jew who is getting back into the dating scene, six times over two weekends in February at Willow Leaves of Hope in Hope, Indiana. And I did it well; everybody (even the people who suggested before each performance that I break my leg) said so.

This, despite having to work with a stand-in the first weekend as three nights before Opening Night the actor playing Peg, an Irish-American Catholic widow, got sick. Fortunately, our director, a veteran of community theater, was able to step in. She did her darndest to memorize as many lines as possible. Even when she missed something, we made a save that audiences didn’t notice or enjoyed anyway because they were made aware of the situation.

Original Peg (OP?) came back from illness for the second weekend’s shows, but she wasn’t quite at full strength. By the time we got to the final show on Sunday afternoon, OP was worn down. She did a great job considering, but Irving had to ad lib here and there to keep things on track.

Audiences hooted and howled at all the funny bits, of which there were many, and they liked the awkward and tender moments, too.

In fact, Kalamazoo was such a hit that the director wants to take it on the road. She and I are hoping to put the play on in nearby theaters, and also at a venue in the Milwaukee area because that’s where Dad lives, as well as so many other of my family members and friends. I’m sure we could put some bodies into seats for a weekend or two.

View these short promo videos of Kalamazoo if you like: Paul Hoffman as Irving, Robin Tillotson as Peg, and Irving, Peg and the director. We had two newspapers write stories about the play before it hatched. Hope Star Journal story, click here. The (Columbus) Republic story, click here.

Oh, by the way, I have no more legs to break. I’ve moved on to arms, fingers, collarbones, etc.

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