Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Don Blair speaks about Redlands High, Russ Tutterow, and not doing anything on stage.

Don Blair (Ted in 16th Street's upcoming The Last Barbecue, pictured left with Ann James as Jan) sent me this below as his biography for the program. But it's too good to wait for. So take a walk with Don down memory lane. Come on.... he won't bite.

"The Blair", as he is known to the two or three hundred of his closest friends, was born in Redlands, California during the last Ice Age. He graduated from Redlands High in 1961 with a 3.71 grade average. That's a lie. Who remembers? Our mascot would have been a Terrier, if we'd had an actual one, because the University of Redlands' was a Bulldog. I firmly believe that John Lennon wrote "Hey Bulldog" about us. Everybody gets to believe what they want.

The last time I Googled “Redlands”, the High School I went to was now the Jr. High School. And the elementary school I went to was now a park - or perhaps just a verdure of some kind - bordering a huge parking lot. The trees were still there, but the building not so much. It was on the corner of Cajon and Cypress. Check it out.

The Blair came to Chicago in 1982 and didn't work for seven years. As an actor. Too many guys in front of me in the line. Then I met Russ Tutterow, and my life was enriched. People started calling, The Blair started working. The frustration gave way to unmitigated joy. Well, perhaps slightly mitigated. We never get everything we want, do we?

Along about this time, I was called to audition for Descent - A Darwinian Comedy by Tom Patrick (I quote from the poster which sits in the foyer of my palatial one bedroom apartment in Edgewater.) The Director was a shy, slightly awkward teenager from my home state ( California ) who'd been a dance major. A Dance Major. From Northern Cal. A blond. I knew I'd get the part because God hates me. I did, and it was a great experience. But wait, it gets better!

So, some time later, this same pink-cheeked schoolgirl asked me to read a role in a play she was considering for the upcoming season at her theater – The Aardvark - for potential backers. I read the script and I was horrified. This guy was the meanest son of a bitch on the planet. I had no idea how to play him, but I'd already said yes to the reading. So I was in a cold sweat when it came time to do the thing. As we walked from the lobby into the rehearsal room where the reading was to take place, I was panicking - any emotion, any inflection in my interpretation of this character would turn him into a monster. So, being the cautious individual that I am, I decided not to do anything. What the hell, it’s only a reading. They'll hold auditions if they decide to do the play. So I didn't inflect, I didn't act, I tried to be as neutral as a stone. And then Ann started laughing. You should be so lucky in your life as to hear this woman laugh. And then I began to understand what Brett Neveu, the playwright, was saying. And now here we are.

Hope you like The Last Barbecue. But, as one woman who saw a production of The Marriage of Bette ' n Boo I was in at Apple Tree said: " I don't need to come to the Theater to see this, I can get this at home."


Brett Neveu said...

HAW! and I type again... HAW!!! I'd also type LOL, but I totally never type that.

The Blair said...

I thought I already did.