REMEMBERING GREAT PERFORMANCES – THE MALE ACTORS (part one)
I single out here some of those unsung heroes whose work will only be remembered by some who saw them on stage in South Florida.
For me the memory of their performances is as vivid and as important as that of those of better known stage actors whose names you might easily recognize.
Theatre though is unforgiving when it comes to remembering. Film can be preserved and revisited and watched over and over. Theatre is ephemeral. Here today, gone tomorrow.
Only by writing about it I can bring back memories of Carlos Orizondo – the actor who returned to South Florida theatre after an absence of a couple of years to do his best work: a superb Iago in Othello, a chilling Edmond in King Lear. As it happens with wine and actors, the older the vintage, the more complex and richer the drink.
They say about some roles that when you are old enough to play them you are too old to play them. I cast James Randolph as King Lear when he was not old enough to play the aged monarch. But through hard work James delivered a performance marked with dignity and gravitas. His Othello was strong and vulnerable at the same time. In Taking Sides, James played a role normally assigned to a white actor: James made it work despite the disbelievers.
Steve Gladstone is blind. But as an actor he has 20-20 inner vision. He played a fierce, uncompromising, memorable Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and for the first time in his career the part of a blind person in Mario Diament’s Blind Date.
Matthew Wright’s acting turns as twin brothers John and James Jekyll in Terrence McNally’s LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION!, as Prior Walter in ANGELS IN AMERICA, as and as Claudius in HAMLET, showed his ability to move from the tragic to the comic and to balance both in some parts, as he did as Prior in Angels in America.
David Kwiat’s first appearance with New Theatre was in THREE HOTELS by Jon Robin Baitz. He followed that with Roy Cohn in ANGELS IN AMERICA, Jamie Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN, and in both Mario Diament’s BLIND DATE and SMITHEREENS.David’s quirky, dangerous, no holds-barred acting in those roles is still vivid in my memory.