Just a few scant weeks ago I was scurrying off to Buster's to watch Tim X. Davis and his wife, Joy, in their roles as the parents in AGL's Tommy: The Concert. They performed alongside their precocious son, Logan, who played little Tommy, with both of them putting in incredible efforts singing onstage with their young child.
Now it's late June, Joy has returned to her role as real mommy, and Tim is back at the wheel, co-directing and co-starring in Bluegrass Community & Technical College's production of A Few Good Men, which opens Thursday at the Downtown Arts Center.
Davis always seems to find somewhat overbearing, authoritative roles to play, and he does it well, but it's a total about-face from his jovial offstage personality. Most recently he took on Captain Walker in Tommy, but over the years, I've seen him play a ferocious Musketeer, a creepy cop in Lobby Hero, the sheriff in BatBoy, stern father Mason in Silas House's Long Time Travelling - and let's not forget his very Monty Python-like villain, the arch-nemesis of Robin Hood (played by Tom Phillips) at the Arboretum, when he channeled his inner Schoolyard Willie. So it was no surprise when I heard he was tackling the character of Lt. Col. Nathan Jessup, a role made memorable by Jack "You Can't Handle the Truth" Nicholson in the movie.
As Theatre and Film Coordinator, Davis said the choice of A Few Good Men for BCTC's summer effort was partially gender-driven, but more to accommodate his students than being chauvinistic. "Well, unlike many college theatre programs that tend to be female- heavy, we have a ton of fellas, so I thought this would be a good show to let the boys loose on. And, it being summer I wanted a big cast show that will (hopefully, especially with the name recognition) bring in a nice box office take for us."
Tim believes that a recurring theatrical thread is the woven into the underlying messages of Aaron Sorkin's masterpiece. "REDEMPTION! (there you go Jared) My philosophy is that EVERY play at some level is about redemption...and sex. That too." (Note my post below for Jared Sloan's views on the work's message...kjt)
"Certainly the redemption theme plays into this. I think there's something very integral about Kaffee's struggles to come out from under his dead father's huge shadow. And Jared hit on it with the idea of never giving up. It's certainly NOT an anti-military show. Some people may believe that but not me. I think it ultimately shows what real courage and bravery are in it's core characters, all of whom are military men and women."
He believes his character's contribution to overall theme of the play is a quality that will resound with today's audiences. "Col. Jessup is pretty much the heavy in this piece (along with Lt. Kendrick). Jessup believes in what he's doing, but he's willing to destroy innocent lives to do it. He's willing to lie, cheat, kill, and stomp all over the constitution to do it. Hmmmm...if only I had some public figure from which to draw inspiration," he laughs.
Not surprisingly, TimX normally would have a distaste for the sort of person Jessup is at his core, but he relishes playing the role of the bad guy. "As a character though, I love it. Haven't played a 'big bad' in a long time. And he has some classic lines. Sorkin wrote an amazing character. One of the biggest hurdles, of course, is to not simply play 'Jack' when I'm up there (Nicholson, that is), as his template for Jessup is pretty damned hard to beat. But I think I've found a way to make him my own." And he certainly does. Nobody can put the fear into you when he's onstage quite like Tim Davis.
What are the challenges of directing and acting in the same show? "Too many to name! The hardest part is simply trying to split your focus during this part of the rehearsal ('Now I'm an actor...and NOW I'm a director...AND I'm an actor again!') Also, at this point (as we're almost ready to open), the idea of letting those directing reigns go completely is going to be VERY hard, but I know that for the next week, I'm just going to have to be an actor." That statement is not unlike others I've heard from directors as the opening night looms ever more closely.
He adds, "One more thing about the acting- I tend to be my own worst critic, and it's been tough to adjust to having to slip back and forth in between 'jobs.' It's made for some tough nights for me in rehearsal (and sometimes where I get alot more frustrated than I'd like in front of my students) but it's tough. Another thing is the rust factor. Since I've moved to Lexington, directing has sort of become my primary function, which was not always the case. I always saw myself as an actor first and foremost, but I'm known much more in this area (for better or for worse) as a Director. It's tough too, with my children, to find time to do any outside work, much less acting (which rarely pays as much as a good directing gig). People think it's like falling off a log and that you can go for years without doing it and there's no atropy, but that's crap. You get rusty quick. And shaking off that rust, especially as an out of shape (almost) 44 year old man is not the easiest task. But it's given me the yen to stretch my acting wings more AND to try and put my body back in some form of respectable shape before I do this next time."
I told him it must be very rewarding to act as a mentor for kids like Jared - who I think is fantastic - and asked him how he felt about his future as a director and talk about how BCTC has so much to offer students like him. Typically, X diffused my serious attempt at a compliment with a joke. "He'd be NOTHING without me!! (Bwahahahahahahaha!) Just kidding- he's fantastic and I think with him, and many of my students, the sky's the limit. I have great faith in Jared and I know he'll go far."
With the cast's heads freshly shorn into Marine buzzcuts -- except of course for Katie Cox, Hayley Williams, who are certainly holding their own in this mostly-male troupe -- and the multi-tiered set in its last stages of construction, A FEW GOOD MEN opens next week at the DAC - stay tuned for more profiles on the talented cast that X has assembled for this next great production from BCTC!
(Photos taken during rehearsals for Actors Guild of Lexington's Tommy: The Concert are courtesy of Tom Eisenhauer; Tim X. photo taken during AGL's rehearsals of Long Time Travelling, courtesy of Erin Cutler; photos of A Few Good Men courtesy of Katie Cox)
(Donald Shofner is the graphic artist who creates the cool posters for Bluegrass Community & Technical College's productions. Check out the one he put together for See Jane Quit ... kjt)
A FEW GOOD MEN opens next week at the DAC - stay tuned for more profiles on the talented cast that X has assembled for this next great production from BCTC.
Co-Directed by Tim X. Davis and Jared K. Sloan
A Few Good Men, written by Aaron Sorkin, tells the story of military lawyers at a court-martial who uncover a high-level conspiracy in the course of defending their clients, United States Marines accused of murder.
Cpl. Dawson- Kevin Greer
Pfc. Downey- Jared Sloan
Lt. Sam Weinberg- Charles Bruin
Lt. Daniel Kaffee- Zack Hightower
Lt. Cmdr. Jo Galloway- Hayley Williams
Capt. Whitaker- Katie Jo Cox
Capt. Matthew Markinson- James Brown
Pfc William Santiago- Carlos Pelayo
Lt. Col Nathan Jessup- Tim X Davis
Lt. Jon Kendrick- Jeremy Gillett
Lt. Jack Ross- Ryan Hastings
Cpl. Jeffery Howard- Alex Saunders
Judge Randolph- Vincent Harris
Dr. Walter Stone- Bret Ripley
(playing multiple MP’s/ Marines/ Lawyers/etc…)
Stage Manager - Aly Miller
Assistant Stage Managers - Laura Burton, Leah Dick
Ticket prices are $12 for general admission
LexArts Box Office
Downtown Arts Center (DAC)
141 East Main Street
Lexington, KY 40507
June 24th - 26th at 7:30pm
Matinee performance on Sunday, June 27th at 2pm