TITLE: Now Appearing at a Theater Near You... AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: November 23, 2007 9:09 AM DESC: ----- BODY: In a stunning departure from my ordinary behavior, I have taken an acting role in a play. My daughters were recently cast in a production of Barbara Robinson's classic children's story The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, being put on by a local church. The director is well known in our area as an actor and as the long-time director of a tremendous local children's theater, and he has just returned to the area as youth director of said church. He is also the virtual training partner to whom I have referred a few times in my entries on marathon preparation. This play is mostly about kids and ladies, and plenty of folks auditioned for those roles. But when the one guy who auditioned for the part of the father dropped out, the production was left with a big hole. My daughters joked that I should fill in; it would be fun. My running partner-as-director assured me that I could handle what is really a small supporting role, even though I have no acting experience to speak of. After some hemming and hawing, I decided to give it a go. A compressed rehearsal schedule and a relaxed venue were enough to lower my fears, and the chance to work with my daughters -- who love to perform and who are getting pretty good at it -- was enough to convince me to take a risk. So, in a few weeks, I will appear on stage as father Bob Bradley, immortalized in a made-for-TV film starring Loretta Swit by veteran character actor Jackson Davies. Fortunately, my role in the play is a bit larger than the dad's role in the movie. Davies played a small, straight part, and I get to go for a laugh or two. The dad, though also gets to deliver a key passage in the story, what I call my "Linus moment", in analogy to A Charlie Brown Christmas. My lines are neither as extensive nor quite a poignant as the spotlighted soliloquy of Linus's Biblical passage, but still it is a pivotal moment. How is that for pressure on a first-time actor with no discernible natural skill? May I rise to the challenge! I'm still not sure what to expect. I figure in the worst case we have a little fun. In the best case, perhaps learning a bit about how to deliver a line and mug for the audience will improve my "stage presence" as a teacher and as a public speaker. I usually live my life on a rather narrow path, so stretching my boundaries is almost certainly a good thing. -----