A traveling actor

Author: Lisa Iannucci
Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2009

Actor Wesley Mann travels the country performing in various theaters. For his summer performances at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF), he finished up his work in California, packed up his convertible and drove to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock. He completed a run there, packed the car back up and drove to the Hudson Valley, where he splits his time six months a year, so he can be dedicated to his craft that he loves so much.

           

“I feel at home here,” he says, sitting in the diner in Cold Spring where patrons greet him, ask him how things are going and some talk about the previous night’s performance. They know him and love him here, and for six consecutive years he has been a fixture at the HVSF, portraying Malvolio in last year’s Twelfth Night. He’s also portrayed King Edward in Richard III, Launce in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Sir Hugh Evans in The Merry Wives of Windsor and Stefano in The Tempest, among other roles.

           

When he’s not in the Hudson Valley, Mann has also portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in Portland Center Stage’s A Christmas Carol and has played three roles in the Arkansas Rep’s production of The Elephant Man. “No other job gives me great satisfaction,” he says. “It’s who I am, and if I go two or three years without performing in a play, I’m miserable.”

           

When he’s not performing on the stage, he’s watching theater or traveling to New York City to see others perform on stage. This summer he had the chance to see several Broadway performances, including the musicals Rock of Ages and Next to Normal and the old-style comedic play, The 39 Steps on Broadway.

“I’d give anything to be in The 39 Steps,” he says. Watching the show, it’s easy to see why. He would score huge laughs if he was cast as one of the lead characters who rely on slapstick, quick change and hilarious facial expressions and voices in their roles. In other words, he would fit right in.

           

One must not forget, though, that Shakespeare wrote many comedies as well as dramas, so even Mann’s parts in these productions allow him to use his uncanny ability to express complicated monologues and, at the same time, provide him moments where he can touch upon his comedic side. Those who had the pleasure to see him perform this summer at Leonato have seen how he has done both so well.

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