When you are taking part in a local theater scene for long enough, familiar faces begin to pop up everywhere. You can tell who the big names are, and who is local and not just angling for a big role that might make them more appealing for the New York audience, or for television. When I first started paying attention back in high school, the name I remembered best, and the performances I enjoyed most were the comic turns from Floyd King, who continues to be a DC gem and legend. But King, having played many of the wonderful parts best suited to him in this area, seems to have gone into semi-DC-retirement. So there are new actors to watch out for with the vacuum that King has left behind.
One that the Boy and I have found ourselves loving and seeking out is Tom Story, another comic actor who is wonderful. We saw him in a small one-man show at Metrostage called “Fully Committed“, which I would have written about except for the fact that it was at the very end of it’s run. It didn’t seem fair to brag to you all about a terrific show that no one would be able to see, so I left it off my blogging schedule. But we adored it. And having seen that, anytime we know that Tom Story will be in a production that fits into our schedule, we make an effort to go see it.
So back in August when we went to see A Little Night Music, we noticed Story’s face in both the lobby and program of the Signature Theatre production, since he would be headlining their next show called An Act of God. This was very appealing, so as soon as we remembered and had time at to sit at the computer with calendar open, we bought tickets.
It is a fun show. Tom Story is delightful playing the all-powerful deity, with assistance from Jamie Smithson and Evan Casey as his arch-angels Gabriel and Michael, respectively. The conceit is that God has come down from heaven to tell us what he really thinks, to give us a new set of commandments, and the best way to do this is in the guise of a beloved regional actor who doesn’t know that his body is being inhabited for the purpose. So – great casting, first off. The actual content of the play just flies by – it’s 75 minutes with no intermission, and I don’t remember getting antsy or feeling like I needed a break at any point, which is sometimes a thing that happens with me and theater productions – especially those that go a little long between acts. There’s a tag on the very end of the show that had both me and the Boy cracking up especially, but I won’t spoil what it is, because it is so lovely and delightful a moment.
I will say that as much as we enjoyed it, the tickets for this 75 minute show were nearly as much as those for seeing the longer, full-on musical production earlier in the season. I understand that the actors and all the tech persons who worked on the production need to be paid (and they did a beautiful job with the set, costumes and all the razzle-dazzle that’s part of the show), but oof – it just felt like less bang for our buck than with other shows. This is not to discourage others from attending the show, but just be warned that it is just a one-act, mostly-one-man show. A really good, and very funny one, but knowing what you’re getting into is important.
Details: An Act of God, Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, VA, through November 26.
I love Tom Story too. Shakespeare Theater thankfully casts him regularly!