2014: A Rogue's Gallery!
What a year it has been. I think every actor of ambition dreams of success--success on the scale of a Broadway show, or a feature film, or a starring role in a series. It is these dreams of fame and fortune that sometimes propel us into the business in the first place. As we live and learn within the business, many of us realize that what we really want is to WORK. To do the thing we love with great people and have the chance to explore roles that excite, challenge and transform us. 2014 has been, for me, an embarrassment of riches. Two plays. Two musicals. Two ultimate dream roles. Reunions with favorite directors and musical directors, and thrilling new collaborations.
My year started with one of the busiest and most adrenaline-driven audition seasons I have ever known. Between January and the end of February I did over 30 auditions, showing up in line for open calls and chorus calls, attending appointments and callbacks. My first offer was from Flat Rock Playhouse, where I had the delight of playing Milt Fields, a Jewish comedy writer bringing the one-liners in Neil Simon's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor." Not only was this one of the most loving and delightful casts I have ever worked with, but I had the gift of forging a friendship and brilliant working relationship with director Michael Kostroff. He has become one of my favorite people.
Summer brought the chance to play the role at the top of my musical theatre dream role list, John Adams in "1776." Having chased the part for several years through audition after audition, the perfect opportunity arrived to play the role at Cape Playhouse, under the direction of the wondrous Jimmy Brennan. If you've watched my video blog "Becoming John Adams" or follow me on Facebook, you know just how over the moon I was to play this iconic leading part. I will never forget it as long as I live.
Wonder of wonders, hot on the heels of this dream come true, another came along. The ultimate comic villain, Thénardier, in the blockbuster musical "Les Misérables," at Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Again I was in the loving and trusted hands of director DJ Salisbury and musical director Ken Clifton, two of my favorite collaborators. The production broke box office records at the theatre; the flash mob our cast performed of "One Day More" in an Orlando mall went viral; and as of this writing I have been nominated for a BroadwayWorld Orlando Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical.
As I write this, I am in production week for my latest endeavor, "Peter and the Starcatcher," a sublime mix of theatrical magic and pure storytelling, at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am tickled to be playing the ever-industrious, if somewhat dim, pirate sidekick Smee, in a fabulous collaboration with Leo Ash Evens as the vainglorious Black Stache. It is such a thrill to work on a show that is so fresh and innovative, with a director and choreographer who have brought incredible heart and imagination to the production. Jenn Thompson and Patti Wilcox have collaborated brilliantly, and have called upon all the talents of our 12 actor ensemble to bring this show to life. It will be the perfect holiday confection for Salt Lake audiences.
Four amazing roles. Four regional theatre debuts. And the fifth will begin just as 2014 comes to a close! When "Peter and the Starcatcher" ends here in Utah, I will have a brief two days in Massachusetts to celebrate the holidays with my family before flying off to sunny Florida the day after Christmas to begin rehearsals at Riverside Theatre. The show is the glittering Gershwin musical, "Crazy For You," and my role--Hungarian theatrical impresario Bela Zangler. Zangler is a jewel of a character part which earned for its originator, Bruce Adler, a Tony Award nomination. "Crazy For You" brings me back together with director Jimmy Brennan and musical director Ken Clifton--truly, the best gift Santa could have possibly given me!
Show business is a feast or famine deal, so I am giving daily thanks to the theatrical gods for this run of good fortune, and enjoying every moment of being a working actor. Many blessings abound. Being on the road so much makes a personal life a challenge, but I am buoyed by good friends and family. Tragedy struck our family this year with the death of my father, but the loss brought me closer to my extended Beaman family and helped me to realize the true gift they are. Losing my Dad has also given me a chance to reflect on the lifetime of artistry and excellence he lived and how profoundly it has influenced me. Grieving is a long process, I find. Dad passed only a brief three months ago and every day I have feelings and thoughts that I need to process and cope with.
My New Year's wish for all of you is that you pursue your passion and find ways of living your dreams. Gather those you love close to you and whenever you have even the smallest impulse to call one of your loved ones, or reach out and say, 'I am thinking of you and love you'--DO IT. It takes so little to keep the flow of love going. And what goes out, comes back. I am grateful that I will begin 2015 engaged in my craft in a warm and sunny place. This new year marks my 25th year as a professional actor, and will also bring my 50th birthday. Phew! Am I grateful? You betcha. Do I still have the hunger to realize more ambitions? Damn straight! I continue to reach for more opportunity as an actor. I continue to invest in my work as a teacher and coach for performers in New York and wherever I perform around the country. I continue to hope for someone special to share the next chapter of my life with, but I have plenty of love to go around to friends new and old, and my beautiful family. Have a wondrous holiday season, one and all, and a happy and healthy new year!!