Written by Barbara Weinberger.
In fall 2013, Michael Serrecchia (the director of the Living Black and White shows) was auditioning actors for the upcoming 2014 production of “Rehearsal for Murder!” As usual Kurt and I sat in on auditions, to get a feel for the talent and offer opinions if asked. But this year we had another agenda.
Kurt and I knew the time had come to find someone who could ultimately replace Kurt as Harry Hunsacker. We were on the alert for such an actor in those 2013 auditions. And we were not disappointed!
Scott Nixon was auditioning and was already being strongly considered for one of the roles in the show. Kurt and I felt he would also make a great Harry Hunsacker. To be certain, we needed to hear him read for Harry.
Normally Kurt would read the lines for Harry in auditions. Towards the end of the auditions, we asked Scott to read Harry’s lines. Scott did as we asked but without much conviction. We knew in that moment that Scott didn’t realize we were truly considering him for the role of Harry. Kurt pulled Scott aside and said “This is a real audition for Harry.”
Put yourself in Scott’s shoes! Here is the guy who created the role of Harry and has played it for nearly 30 years, telling you he wants to consider you for the role! It had to have been a shock. But Scott had no time to dwell on that because we were asking him to read the scene again.
Boom. In that next reading, there he was, our new Harry. Kurt and I looked at Michael and knew he had seen it too. But Scott wouldn’t know for another 15 minutes or so. (We don’t offer roles to actors at the auditions themselves, we call them afterwards.) Scott left, the auditions came to an end, Michael completed his casting decisions, and I immediately called Scott to explain that we were offering him two roles: one as a vain, egotistical director and one as Kurt’s understudy. The caveat was that if Scott accepted the understudy role, he would in 2-3 years take over the role of Harry in its entirety. Was he interested?
As luck would have it, Scott was indeed interested. Even better, he understood the legacy he would be continuing, and he was proud to do it. For the 2014 show Scott played Harry at Thursday performances and another actor filled in for Scott’s role. We increased the number of understudy performances for Scott during the 2015 and 2016 productions. In January 2017, Scott took the stage as a full-time Harry, and audiences love him!
We are forever grateful to Scott for his commitment to the role! From the beginning he understood the basic elements of Harry’s character and he has stayed true to those. He also knew we didn’t want him to be a carbon copy of Kurt. He has brought his own take on Harry’s character and it has been a delight to watch him settle into the role and make it his own. We hope Scott has cleared his calendar for many years to come, as we hope to work with him for a long time!