Seven Plays: Number One

as you

I am waiting for some decisions. It will take about two more weeks. While we wait, I thought I might blend some of my personal life a bit. 

In the last 5 years I have consciously attempted to make this website about facts, not feelings. This not some personal exploration, it’s about crime details that need scrutiny. Saying that, I am sharing this because 1. I have a little time to open up.  2. What I am about to share is not unrelated to the overall picture. So…

There’s been this thing going around social media: name seven theatrical plays you were in, then share with others… You know, a social media thing.
Well I’ve been tagged in this meme, and I’ve avoided it. I thought it stupid, a forum for self-promotion. I really don’t see a reason to reflect on recent theatre memories.

( Let me stop here and say, I am an actor. I have always been an actor. Whenever I am not advocating for victims rights, working, spending time with my kids… I AM USUALLY IN A PLAY.) 

But… So…  going further back? That’s interesting. Memory and nostalgia are the back-bone of social media. And if I can use that forum to tell a story? Ok, I’m in.  If you listen closely you will see why this is relevant to this website.  

So here is my 7 part theatre-story, taken out of chronological order. 

Episode 1

There was this kid. His name was Michael Merrick…

I’m already getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning. I was fresh out of acting school in NYC. I needed an acting gig. I auditioned for The Alley Theatre, and was hired as an acting intern.

So I moved to Houston, Texas. As an intern you were expected to shut-up and understudy. I got lucky. The opening show was As You Like It, and I understudied Jaques / John Franklin-Feltch. More lucky: I got assigned the hunter speech, you know… we are introduced to Arden and some unknown comes on stage a laments the killing of a stag, and how Jaques wept at the site of it. This part is usually cut. Miraculously, Greg Boyd kept it, and I got to be front and center (Greg’s first big mistake).

But there was this kid. His name was Michael Merrick. He was a little younger than me, and had just graduated from the theater program at the University of Houston…

So the photo? That’s me on the left, and Gage Tarrant on the right. As interns we were fifth business. When not doing a Stag Speech, we were eye-candy, filling in at the sidelines and providing moves and percussion.

After the Stag Speech I became arrogant. I won’t go into details, who cares. Let’s just say that I believed my worth to the Alley was greater than the Alley’s worth to me.

So they did what any business would do in that position. They stopped using me.

So there was this kid…

I saw Michael Merrick in an Alley production of One Flew Over The Cucloo’s Nest. He had a NOTHING role. He was one of the orderlies. He was the most captivating thing in the show. I could not take my eyes off him.

My first response was panic and threat. I didn’t know what to do. This guy – a townie – was seriously encroaching on my plans.

Then it got worse.

By some chance we met up in a bar in Houston. I found him charming, genuine and wickedly funny. I remember we shared a love for The Dukes of Stratosphere, the XTC 60s parody band that threw mimicry on its ear into music method-acting. How could I hate an enemy that I so deeply admired?

I moved from Houston to Toronto. The reasons were varied, but mostly, I was never gonna shine in a world where John Franklin-Feltch existed: we were too physically similar, and he was too talented.

Later, I moved to LA.

I saw Michael Merrick for the last time at an audition in West Hollywood. I tried to recapture the Houston magic, but he seemed distant.

Soon after, Michael Merrick died of a heroin overdose.

This is for those who don’t get a chance to shine in the 15-minute social media light. This is for the forgotten, but never forgotten by me. This is for the deeply gifted that inspired me, and not because I might later need a favor.

This is for Gage, who only today I learned was a close friend to Michael, and considered him like a little brother.


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