Today’s TOP FIVE comes from accomplished local actor, Bryant Duffy. He first came to the attention of this blog when he was in Little Dog Laughed, a City Circle production in 2009. Matt Falduto wrote a “Not a Review” of the show. From the not a review: “And then Bryant something or other… Duffy, that’s it. He’s the character who really changes the most in the show and he’s just spot on. I’d never seen him onstage before but hopefully, he’ll do more stuff. Great, great actor.” Well, Bryant has done ‘more stuff’ and in fact had done a lot of ‘stuff’ before that show, too! Today he shares his TOP FIVE acting experiences.
5) Freddie in Noises Off! by Michael Frayn. City Circle, 2012.
I have been in this production twice, my first experience was in a Summer Stock production a few years back. At the time I had no idea what this show was about, and when I was cast as Garry I very quickly learned how absolutely hysterical of a farce it was. I was cast as Freddie the accident prone actor in City Circle’s production, and had the chance to work with Wally Chapel and Liz Tracey, and a great cast including Robyn Calhoun, Matt Falduto, Shannon Bonney, Brett Borden, Ramya Hipp, and Kevin Burford. I was so excited about the second time around with the show because I felt more prepared and familiar with the script, and the growth I felt as an actor with this piece will be something I will always be thankful for.
4) The Narrator in Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. City Circle, 2015.
This is my most recent production I just finished up with, having played the Narrator. I have loved this show ever since I first saw it on VHS with Bernadette Peters and Chip Zein. This was also the first time I got to be be directed by the wonderful Chris Okiishi. His vision for the show is what really got me excited to be apart of, and the vision of my character he had was very interesting and something I had never seen done with that role before. He is such a generous and giving person, and I felt honored to have worked with him, as well as the rest of that ridiculously talented cast.
3) Luke in A Midnight Clear by L.B. Hamilton. Star Lighters Theatre, 2008 and Theatre Cedar Rapids, 2010.
This show has held onto me ever since I first performed it back in 2008 with Star Lighters Theatre in Anamosa, Iowa. It was part of a 0ne-act theatre festival, and I was cast along side TJ Besler playing former lovers who have not seen or spoken to each other in over 10 years. When one of the characters is beaten and raped by a group of homophobic men, and admitted to the hospital, his former lover is called as his emergency contact, and their visit with each other turns into grief, passion and utter uncontrolled anger as feelings finally reach the surface. I then had the chance to direct the same show with Theatre Cedar Rapids for their play festival in their downstairs Grandon Studio theatre black box. I again played the same role, and cast one of my favorite actors in the world, Rob Merritt, in the role of Paul. This show forced me to be something that people are not used to seeing with me on stage… I was not funny, not campy, and most of all completely raw and true to the character. I was so lucky to have played opposite both TJ and Rob; they both added so much to their roles, and allowed me to take it to the point of no return, and show the audience there is another side to me as an actor. I won an award from that festival for Best Actor, but that is not what I took away from that experience. It was the experience of portraying a character like Luke to an entire audience the did not even breathe or make a sound for that full 20 minutes when we left everything we had on that stage.
2) Dr. Frank-n-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show by by Richard O’Brien. Theatre Cedar Rapids, 2007.
I have loved this movie ever since I first saw it when I was in about 6th grade, having come across it late one night when my Mom thought I was asleep. Of course at that age I had no idea what was going on, or even what a transsexual even was, but there was something about Tim Curry wearing those platform heels and corset that was burned in my mind ever since. I became obsessed with soundtrack from the movie, the Broadway cast recordings, and I took every chance I could to sing, “Sweet Transvestite” at karaoke bars. I auditioned for Theatre Cedar Rapids 2007 production under the direction of Richard Barker and told myself I had to play Frank. I walked into the audition room, belted out Sweet Transvestite, and left it in the room. After walking out of the theatre that night all I wanted was to at least get a call back so I could sing it again for them. Well, no callback…I got cast the next night! I had so much fun with this show, that I honestly don’t even remember doing it! Luckily I have a DVD of the performance to remind me it happened. I had all the emotions in one: fear, self consciousness, excitement, but being on that stage with the rest of the cast and feeling so sexy and free in those 7 inch heels and fishnets reinforced my love for that show even more.
1) Louis Ironson in Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner. Theatre Cedar Rapids, 2007.
Not only is this (in my mind) the best play ever written, it was also the second time I was cast in this show. First time was when I played Prior in the University of Northern Iowa’s production my Senior year of college. For an actor having the opportunity to be in this great show not only once but two times is a God send! This is the show where I met one of my closet friends and acting legend Matthew James who portrayed Prior in this production. I have never been more nervous for an audition in my life. It was the first time I had ever auditioned for a TCR production, but when I heard from a friend they were producing both parts in rep, I had to at least try for it. Auditions were held in September, but the show was not presented until March-April, director Richard Barker wanted to be sure we had plenty of time as we were rehearsing both parts at once. The entire cast was incredible: Jim Kerns as Roy Cohn, Roe Lloyd as Beleize, Jessica Link as the Angel, Barb Arceneaux as the Rabbi, Hannah, and Ethel Rosenberg, Scott Cartwright as Joe, and Carrie Fattig as Harper. This show was so monumental at the time that for a community theatre to even try to mount took a lot of guts, and to do it right. Well, TCR did that and it was the single best experience I have had on any stage at any time. The relationships between all the characters were so real, sometimes even too real. That production is what cemented in my head why I do what I do, and I will be forever grateful to Richard Barker for taking a chance on a completely unknown actor at the time, and giving me the chance to pour my heart and soul into a role like Louis Ironson.
Check back tomorrow for another TOP FIVE!
Bryant Duffy has been seen in various productions in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area. He was last seen as The Narrator in City Circle’s Into The Woods. Other credits include Noises Off!, The Little Dog Laughed, The Baltimore Waltz, and Hello Dolly. Bryant has appeared in over 75 live stage productions. Favorite roles include Dr. Frank-n-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, Louis in Angels in America, Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird, Lumiere in Disney’s Beauty & The Beast, and Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Bryant has also directed Theatre Cedar Rapids’ productions of Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll and A Midnight Clear. He has also has appeared in shows at Classics at Brucemore, Waterloo Playhouse, Oster Regent Theatre, and various summer stock and regional theatres. Bryant studied Theatre Performance at the University of Northern Iowa, and spent a semester studying with Circle In The Square Theatre, which is based out of NYC. Bryant resides in Coralville with his husband Joshua and their dog Henry and cat Mungojerrie.