From our Founder & Artistic Director Bonnie G
August 24, 2023
It was a Sunday. I got a text from my new friend Kevin who’s been cast as the Judge in our next show THE CHALK GARDEN. We met for the first time at our first read through of the play just weeks ago. He asked if I might be willing to be a last minute fill-in for a one act play festival in Queens. I said sure. And then found out the next performance was Tuesday. Two days away! Gulp. Among other things the festival was a competition where audiences vote for the best play. So….we had a ZOOM rehearsal that Monday where I met the playwright and the actors. 24 hours later I was on stage at The Secret Theatre in Woodside Queens and hoped for the best. The play is called THE GRANDCHILD EFFECT by William Zolla, featuring Kevin, myself and our third thespian friend Hillel Rosenshine. The play is a fun and ultimately sweet take on divorce, family dynamics and love. I was so grateful to be there and with two actors who made me feel remarkably comfortable given the circumstances. Turns out we were voted into the final round… one of the top 8 of 51 plays submitted! We did a total of 5 shows over two weeks including the Grand Finals. We didn’t win any awards but we all agreed our reward was just being there. It’s amazing how sharing a stage even under the most stressful circumstances can be life changing in the best ways. As a famous director once said: “creating relationship is the heart of acting… it is basic… it is essential.” For most actors that relationship is built onstage AND off. I’m thrilled to have two new friends in theater!
Let’s hear from one of those, Kevin Magee, our Judge in THE CHALK GARDEN. He has some things to share about his own community theater experience…
Community theatre is a lifeline
For me, community theatre is a lifeline.
More educational than an acting class. More social than a social club. Better therapy than therapy.
Where else could I be a bartender, a judge, another bartender, a different judge, a lawyer, a dancing singing Nazi and then a judge in the same production and now yet another judge? Nowhere.
Motto: It’s better to be typecast than not cast at all. (Attn: Dick Wolf: I have my own robes…)
And where else could I get incredibly close to between 6 and 30 people for a few weeks and then never see them again? It’s like Glee — you know, the year they didn’t get picked up for the next season? Like that.
So there I was, sitting at home in Manhattan, wondering what was next after a 40-year career as (I always put this in here) an Emmy-award winning television news producer and executive. But that’s a young man’s game. And two stints at morning television (and alarms that go off at 3:20 AM) had taken their toll. Retired. So, I walked the three blocks from my apartment to the 92nd Street Y and took an acting class. I had limited choices. The nice man at the desk explained to me that I had aged out of “Teen Parkour”. Ageist loser.
The real problem began when acting teacher told me I wasn’t bad. I know “Not Bad” would never be above my name on the Broadway marquee and yes, I know my fees paid my teacher’s salary, but I believed him. Wait! You mean the waitress who works for tips isn’t really flirting with me? But she put a smiley face on my check! Even so, I knew Broadway producers would be reluctant to take a chance on someone taking up acting as a “retirement job” and besides, Hugh Jackman and Josh Groban seem to hog all the good roles.
Community theatre, on the other hand, has been welcoming. And there is just so much talent! Who knew the guy who runs the hardware store could sing? And the woman at the bakery could make me cry. Every night! And they are doing it for the pure joy of being in theatre.
What would all these people do if they didn’t have community theatre as an outlet? But don’t take my word for how much talent they have.
Buy a ticket. See for yourself.
You be the judge.
I’ll lend you my robes.
Kevin Magee is a former TV news producer and executive and now actor who splits his time between Shelter Island and Manhattan. He is playing the judge in THE CHALK GARDEN for BOTGT at the Southampton Cultural Center in October. Kevin has also been in productions of THE PRODUCERS and CRY-BABY at the North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck, as well as acting in SOMEWHERE I CAN SCREAM at The Players Theatre in Greenwich Village and most recently THE GRANDCHILD EFFECT at The Secret Theatre in Queens NY. Catch Kevin as the Judge in THE CHALK GARDEN October 6-15 at the Southampton Cultural Center.
Vail-Leavitt Music Hall
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