Rehearsals for the James Tolin Memorial Fund's 10 Anniversary production of Paul Rudnick's Jeffrey are well under way and I couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of yet another amazing cast. Of course, finally getting to act with my Dear D is just a bonus. After directing him in 11 shows over the past 8 years, it's actually wonderful to be acting alongside him, for a change.
I've reprised roles exactly three times in the past 35+ years I've been acting. The first time I reprised a role was Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors, a show I love but never need to do again.
The next time I reprised a role was Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet in a production I also directed. Trust me, I'll never direct myself in a show again. Nor should any actor/director attempt to do so. It ends up being a nightmare. And while that second production of R&J had many, many cans of worms that should remain sealed forever and ever, it provided Uncle P with more life lessons than any show I'd ever been part of, before or since. Those reading this who were part of that particular production know what I'm talking about, while those who weren't, really don't want to know. I just kept reminding myself that "they can't all be gems."
Now I am again playing Sterling in Jeffrey (played by Patrick Stewart in the film version), the part I played in the very first JTMF show 10 years ago. And for the first time, reprising a role is proving to be a joy.
In 2003, "The Friends and Family of James Tolin" put together a show, a silent auction and a gala reception in just 4 short weeks. It was insane; frantic; emotional and amazing and it led to 11 other productions which have raised over $50K for AIDS, Arts Education and Anti-Bullying/Suicide Prevention charities. The JTMF shows have been both the most artistically and spiritually rewarding productions of my long theatrical career.
This summer's event will be JTMF's last "gala fundraiser." The work involved in producing these events have left all us at the JTMF exhausted and frustrated. Fundraising in the current economy is not an easy thing. JTMF will continue to produce shows and donate the proceeds to our beneficiaries, just without the extras. After Jeffrey, our next production will be in the fall of 2013, when we will present a staged radio version of Orson Welle's War of the Worlds. I can't wait to get my hands on a theremin* for that one.
If you are so inclined to join us for our last Gala, tickets are now on sale here. If you are unable to attend, but would like to make a donation via PayPal, please visit our website.
If you aren't familiar with Jeffrey, here's the trailer for the 1995 film version, starring Stephen Weber:
*I'll write about my obsession with both the instrument and the man who invented, another time.