For the past 25 years I have been involved with live theatre. Believe it or not, I have been in over 70 musicals, a dozen drama plays, three original plays I directed and co-wrote. In addition, I have been in four films.
The very first musical I did hooked me. I was invited to be Wiley Post in Quincy Music Theatre’s production of “The Will Rogers Follies.” The part was supposed to be done by multiple people. My boss at the paper I was with at the time volunteered me for the first slot. It turned out that none of the other people wanted to do it, leaving me to be Wiley every time.
That show hooked me on acting. I had to audition for the next show which happened to be “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” They cast me as the husband of the choir director.
At one time I did five straight shows in a row. One of those was “Mame,” where I played Mr. Babcock, Mame’s agent. I was Mr. Potter, George’s nemesis in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The director allowed me to take Potter to a new low. It must have worked because I got booed every night at curtain call.
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Some shows were harder than others. The hardest musical I did was one called “Parade,” about the murder of Mary Phagan and the ultimate lynching of Leo Franks. I played Frank’s defense attorney Rosser as well as four other characters. The most fun one was “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” where I played Erronius (Buster Keaton in the movie). I got to interact with the audience while I searched for my children.
I had several favorite ones. In “Annie Get Your Gun,” I played Buffalo Bill, one of my favorite characters and in “Fiddler on the Roof,” I played Mordechai the bartender.
I have done some serious non-musical Plays as well. One of my favorites was “12 Angry Men,” where I played juror Number One, the foreman. In another play, “Exonerated,” I played twelve different characters with 23 costume changes. Another favorite was “Pearlie Victorious,” written by Ozzie Davis where I played “Captain,” a plantation owner.
Over the years I have written short plays and directed as well. My friend Allie Howe wrote a play based on my experience covering a criminal trial called “Splintered Judgement,” which I directed on two different occasions. Last year I directed a short play at FSU called “Under Review.”
Last year I participated in a film, “Heroes Not Forgotten,” in part produced by the American Legion where I played a military cemetery superintendent. You can see that one at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jS-hMjMbSrM.
Theatre and acting have been a major part of my life over the past few years. I have been cast in a play to be done at FSU in April and I have written a play about an old worn-out defense attorney and his last case hopefully to be done in May or June.
Byron Spires is a retired newspaper editor. He has written dozens of short stories and serials in the Havana Herald. He recently published “The Curious Life of Marci Bell” in a series of three books. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.