Last week we interviewed the playwright and the director of the play Catch and Release, which is being presented this weekend at the Alban Theatre in St. Albans - now let’s hear from one of the stars of the show: Kenneth Morrison.
Q: Tell us about the part you play.
Kenneth: I’m playing Jason, who is Ben’s childhood best friend. We are that inseparable duo you often see typical of young people. Jason learns to love the ladies early and doesn’t let up. Think awkward prepubescent “Fonz.” In a span of six years (from age 11-17) Jason grows up fast and becomes quite independent. He’s a social butterfly in high school and life of the party. There’s also quite a hardening of my character from 11 to 17. It’s funny because in a lot of ways I was able to relate personally. Thank God my Mom and Dad endured my adolescence. They are saints in my book for that!
Q: What's your background in theatre?
Kenneth: I had my first taste of theatre toward the end of college. I was studying music at West Virginia State University and my applied piano teacher urged me to audition for Hairspray. I got cast as Corny Collins - my FIRST role ever. It was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot about the art. Through that I met a lot of great people in the theatre community and got bit by the “theatre bug” as I call it. I now operate a private voice /piano studio through Limelight Theatre Company and teach at the Alban Arts Academy. I’ve also acted, accompanied, or music directed in several area productions as well. I’m a latecomer to the art of theatre but I’m also committed to a lifetime of learning. I still love and perform as a classical pianist. My work in theatre could not happen without the classical piano training I’ve had. It taught me discipline and nuance - especially in preparation. Our musical predecessors set the bar high for artistic and creative value - all the way back to Beethoven and then Brahms (just one example). I learned through the study of their music to expand and push artistic limits - to break rules or find solace in them.
Q: How challenging is it for the actors to play the same character at such different ages?
Kenneth: It’s HARD! I love it though and nothing worth doing is easy. I get comfortable with my “11 year old self” and then I abruptly have to switch gear and be my “17 year old self.” It’s mentally and physically difficult. I played on a playground one day with friend and cast mate, Mandy Petry. It was a good exercise - it made me realize how different the world is through the eyes of an 11-year-old versus a 17-year-old (and realize that I’m not as flexible as I once was). A lot happens in six years - we had to figure out what it was that shaped us, our relationships, our attitudes, etc. There was special difficulty in establishing why Ben and Jason go from best buds at 11 to being on the verge of a friendship-ending heated argument at 17 with only a 15-second pause in between the scenes. We created detailed stories of what might have happened between 11 and 17 leading us to the physical and social changes displayed. It is one of the wildest artistic endeavors I’ve had the pleasure of working on.
Q: Why would you recommend this show to our readers?
Kenneth: It’s an endearing story of life, loss and everything in between. It will remind of you of the innocence and fragility of life and relationships. It’s raw and real. It’s beautiful.
Catch and Release, a play by Jeremy Richter, will be presented at the Alban Arts Center on April 24 and 25 at 8 p.m. and April 26 at 2 p.m. The Alban Arts Center is located at 65 Olde Main Street in St. Albans, W.Va. Tickets are $15 for Adults and $10 for Seniors and Students with valid ID.