For the last several months, I have had the profound honor of working on the play Ten Dollar House for Pride Films and Plays. Easily the toughest role I've ever took on, I play Bob Neal, an interior decorator in 1930's Wisconsin, who falls in love with his handyman while restoring historical buildings. It's an amazing and true story about a committed relationship between two men in a time when being gay was strictly taboo. We follow Bob and his partner Edgar as they fall in love, open a antiques shop/teahouse/restaurant, weather the economic downturn, and figure out how to create a lasting relationship in a time when there was no such thing for men of their persuasion.
Working with Michael Graham, Joe Anderson, Tom Chiola, Jean Marie Koon, and Mindy Barber has been a dream. Michael is a director of great nuance and insight, and helped me mold my performance into something grand yet subtle. Joe has been the best stage partner I've ever had - passionate and fearless in his dedication to the role. Tom, Jean Marie, and Mindy have been a complete pleasure to work with, and have challenged me to dig ever deeper into this character and his relationships. The crew of this show too has been invaluable: our stage manager Albert "Beep" Trefts with his precision and professionalism, our ASM Alicia Crook always being in the right place at the right time with a prop or costume piece, our costume designer Joshua Allard with his genius attention to detail in costuming and his endlessly deep knowledge of period style. Our designers Sarah Lewis (set), Kallie Rolison (Sound), and Aimee Warshal (lights), and Joshua (costumes, of course) has created a beautiful world to live in and explore. And our producer David Zak has been so supportive and helpful through this entire process, it's been an honor to finally work with him.
Finally, Martha Meyer and Rick Kinnebrew, the writers who brought this story to life so brilliantly, with such poignance and humor. I am forever indebted to them for entrusting me with this role. This is such a wonderful story that speaks to today's issues, while shedding a light on lesser-known rural gay history.
Working on this show has helped me get through one of the worst periods of my life, following the death of my mother. It has given me a greater purpose than simply showing off my acting skills; to share this true story that honors the past while inspiring today's audience has been such a blessing. As an actor who's somewhat uncertain of what the future may hold in terms of a career, it has been cathartic to play Bob Neal, a man who's encountered similar uncertainty in his business and personal life, and has gotten through that uncertainty and the other obstacles that have come his way. It's not always perfect, and he makes mistakes along the way - hell, things that he might regret for the rest of his life. But he sticks to his principles and his goals, and he created something that lasted.
As an artist, I want to create something that lasts, build my own small empire. I want to be my own version of Bob Neal.
We have 8 more performances. Audiences have been so enthusiastic about the show, I received some great feedback from peers and critics, and I even received my first fan mail! As with my Mom, all I have is love and gratitude and respect for those who have made this show possible. Love, Respect, and Gratitude. For always.