Well, it’s been about six months since I was “released back into the wild.” And quite a six months it has been. After commencement, I spent all of about ten days getting reacquainted with my home in Chicago. Then, I spent two weeks visiting family in New York, Massachusetts and Florida. After another ten days at home, I returned to “the Mitten State” to spend the summer with the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, in Jackson.
What a wonderful way to return to the professional world: three challenging roles in three wonderful plays, (Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, the Old Shepard in The Winter’s Tale and the title role in Tartuffe,) working with marvelously talented people. Among the company were some names familiar to Hilberry audiences: Artistic Director Janice Blixt, assistant stage manager Mercades Coley, lighting designer Brian Scruggs, and the lovely Christina Flynn. (I even got to play her father!) I can’t tell you yet who’ll be there next year, but they’ve chosen a great season – Richard III, Love’s Labours Lost and Pygmalion – so if you need a classical theatre fix after the Hilberry season ends in May…
After closing the season at Michigan Shakes, it was back to Chicago – for another ten days – before a long-planned trip to China and Tibet with my family. (If you want to see some pictures of the Great Wall, Tibetan monasteries, the Forbidden City and more, I’ve put some up on my website, www.AlanBall.biz.)
Although I could eat Chinese food pretty much forever, (the Yak dumplings in Tibet were especially good,) eventually it was time to head back home – for ten days. (Are we beginning to see a pattern here?) Fortunately, during that time I was able to squeeze in a bit of actual work, including a commercial and thirteen short industrial films. Then, I made a very pleasant 600-mile drive to Lewisbirg, West Virginia, to play Mr. Bumble in the Greenbrier Valley Theatre‘s production of “Oliver!”
GVT is a surprisingly lovely little theatre in a surprisingly hip little town; the 2011 Coolest Small Town in America, according to Budget Travel magazine. And with a cast of 49, (two of whom are older than I am, thank you very much!) the show never gets boring.
That’s it so far. As of this writing, “Oliver!” runs for about two more weeks. Then I’ll head back to Chicago, where I’ve got some singing gigs lined up. And of course, I’ll be auditioning, auditioning, auditioning. And – hopefully – I’ll be home for more than ten days.
-Alan Ball, 11/18/11