Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stephen Tobolowsky

Stephen Tobolowsky is a character actor that has shown up in everything from Ground Hogs Day  to Memento, and from Deadwood  to Glee. Most people know the face, but not the name. I'm the other way around, because I had the privilege to see him on stage back in 1976 and I've never forgotten him.

The play was called Story Theatre and it was performed in an old train station, just off of the University of Illinois campus where he was a student. I remember it being a very physical production and his masterful control of his face and body were as graceful and clever as a top-notch center-stage clown.

I'm never surprised when seeing Stephen Tobolowsky cast in a supporting role, but I'm disappointed that he's always the second banana, knowing completely well that he has the talent to carry a movie or television show. Heaven forbid that Hollywood mix up their formula. It's a formula that has worked, though, and given a good actor a steady pay check. After all, a little Stephen Tobolowsky is better than none at all.

As for that old train station where I first watched him. It's in Urbana, Illinois and is still doing quality live theater for over forty years now. Yes, the Celebration Company at the Station Theatre has been the early training ground for many people now working in the entertainment industry.

Besides Stephen Tobolowsky, other alumni include Nick Offerman, who played Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation, Emmy winning writer of Hollywood Game Night, Ann Slichter, Peter Crombie, who played Crazy Joe Davola on Seinfeld, Tim Carhart - the rapist from Thelma and Louise, Broadway director, Mark Brokaw and the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Beth Henley, just to name a few.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget to mention his excellent performance as Stu Baggs in Californication.