Joe Spano to Star in High School Play

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Joe Spano will appear in a high school play this weekend.

This Emmy-nominated actor, best known for his role as Lt. Henry Goldblume in the popular TV series, “Hill Street Blues,” is not playing a detective, an agent, or even an astronaut this time, but something closer to home.

He’s playing a father.

“Having daughters of his own must’ve effected the way that he created his character,” said Milan, an Idyllwild Arts theater student, who plays Spano’s understudy in “Eurydice.”

Sarah Ruhl has taken the classic Greek myth about Eurydice and Orpheus of the Underworld, and changed it to emphasize the circle of life. Ruhl’s take is both entertaining and provocative.

Wait a minute! Eurydice had a father?

According to Milan, the father is the second, if not the most important role in the play.

“Without him, it would not be the same story,” Milan explained. “He goes through many obstacles, such as memory lapses and seperation from his daughter. And has the courage to let her go knowing that it’s the right thing to do.”

With Joe Spano playing the father, you get a better image of a ‘father’ than if a student were playing the role, Milan adds. However, Milan will have a chance to perform, along with the other understudies, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22.

For the past several weeks, Milan has watched Joe Spano rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

“He has a great, positive attitude and a strong presence onstage,” Milan said. “Him being here has absolutely effected the quality and professionalism of the show.”

Brooke, as Eurydice, admitted to being pretty timid at first.

“I had never worked with a professional actor before, let alone a famous one like Joe Spano,” Brooke said. “But he has treated me like an equal.”

One thing that Milan learned from Spano is patience.

“He has taught me to take my time!” Milan exclaimed. “Lots of actors think they need to rush scenes or moments of the show. Joe has taught me the importance of taking my time and not rush anything.”

Another actor who has likely learned a lot from Spano is his daughter, Liana, who plays one of the three talking stones.

“Joe and Liana have a great relationship,” Milan said. “It’s very clear to see.”

However, onstage the two are all business.

“During rehearsal, you rarely ever see them talk,” Milan said. “Both are focused and ready to work.”

So why is Joe Spano acting in a high school play this weekend? Because his daughter asked him to? Or because Howard Shangraw, his old reperatory acting buddy, who heads up the IA Theater Department, begged? No one really knows for sure, but its likely, after a successful TV and movie career, Joe Spano is doing what he wants.

But for Milan, Brooke and the other teenage actors, the experience has been priceless.

“Eurydice” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 21 & 22, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 23. The understudy performance will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan.22. All shows are free and open to the public. They’re held at the IAF Theater (inside the Bowman building) on the Idyllwild Arts Campus (at the end of Tollgate Road) in Idyllwild. For more information, call (951) 659-2171, or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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