In the summer of 1996, I was hired for my second season of shows as an actor at the Wagon Wheel Theatre. There was a renewed energy and sense of purpose to our work because it was Roy Hine’s first year as Artistic Director. He assembled a fantastic cast and crew, and turned us loose on a season of shows that was a mix of classics that are beloved to audiences and exciting new works that actors and designers live for.
Among those shows was a farce called Lend Me A Tenor. For two weeks, we laughed like maniacs in rehearsal, often having to pause in the middle of scenes to regain our composure. (An activity that occurred occasionally in front of an audience as well.) We worked hard to make Roy laugh, because we knew if he was laughing we were on the right track. And, we were. Audiences loved it! That season is frozen in my memory, suspended in amber as one of the best times of my life. What Roy Hine helped build is being carried on and improved upon by Artistic Director Scott Michaels, who took over when Roy passed away. There exists still a commitment to excellence, and a level of pride and care that you don’t find in every theater.
This past summer I was asked back to direct Lend Me a Tenor, and I didn’t hesitate for a moment to say yes. Stepping into the building again brought it all back. From the perils of learning to perform in the round, to the affectionate nicknames of places like the escape tunnel (“Shawshank”), to the excitement of standing behind the curtain every night, listening to Roy give the opening speech, I’m proud to say the traditions are alive and well. Directing the show felt like the perfect way to honor a friend and an institution that is always close to my heart, and to make a whole new set of memories with a brand new group of people. And, once again we’re laughing like crazy, and hoping that all of this love and joy floods out and over the audience.
Mickey Fisher, Actor and Director