Scott Nixon is a talented, versatile actor who came to us with a history of performing in Living Black & White™ shows produced by Mainstage Irving Las Colinas (MILC). It’s no wonder he already had an obvious sense of the snappy style required by these productions!
So when Scott first auditioned for the 2013 production of XSR:Die! by Kurt Kleinmann, it was an easy decision by the director, Michael Serrecchia, to cast him as Eric Devin, the past-his-prime matinee idol. And Scott did a fantastic job!
During the ensuing year, something was brewing. Kurt Kleinmann and I [Executive Director Barbara Weinberger], were discussing Kurt’s continuing back problems and the need for an understudy. We were also reviewing the theatre’s long-term strategy and succession plan. How would we prepare for the day when Kurt could no longer play Harry? How could we ensure that the Living Black & White™ shows would outlive us?
When auditions for the 2014 production of Rehearsal for Murder! by Kurt Kleinmann came around, finding a Harry understudy and potential replacement was a high priority. And something interesting happened during those auditions!
Kurt and I try to be at all auditions. In Kurt’s case, he reads the role of Harry with auditioning actors. At this audition, Kurt saw Scott and had an instinct that he would make a great Harry Hunsacker. So Kurt asked Michael to have Scott read the role of Harry opposite another actor.
Look at it for a minute from Scott’s perspective. The role of Harry Hunsacker had been played by Kurt for decades, and there had been no mention of auditioning for an understudy. So Scott assumed he was just reading the part as a placeholder and he gave a lackluster reading.
Kurt called for a pause in the auditions, walked up to the stage and said to Scott “You’re really reading for the role of Harry. This isn’t ‘pretend!'” Michael ran the audition scene again, and BOOM! there was our second Harry, before our very eyes!!
I had the pleasure of calling Scott later that evening and offering him two roles: that of Adrian Garson AND that of Kurt’s understudy, with four guaranteed understudy performances. It put a grin on my face to hear how blown away Scott was by the offer! It was clear that he took it as seriously as we meant it. We knew Michael had picked the right guy!
NEXT WEEK: Scott’s years as an understudy!
See Scott as Harry Hunsacker this weekend in It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder! running through August 7, 2016 at the Eisemann Center in Richardson. To purchase tickets, call 972-744-4650 or visit www.eisemanncenter.com