Sunday, September 21, 2003

'Lady' brings actor back home

He's a busker, a man from Selsey, a royal footman, a vendor and Alfred P. Doolittle's sidekick Harry, all of which keeps Howard Kaye plenty busy on stage in Playhouse in the Park's My Fair Lady.

A proud Cincinnati native, Kaye is a member of the first class of the School for Creative and Performing Arts, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and a veteran of Playhouse shows dating to the 1980s, including Peter Pan, Rocky Horror Show and The Wizard of Oz.

We were eager to ask him a few questions about his first time back on a hometown stage in 13 years. He says he's having a ball.

This is a reduced "My Fair Lady" - 10 performers, two pianos? Does it feel different from performing a more traditional musical?

Productions like this don't come along very often. It's nicer being 10 percent of a production rather than one guy in a chorus of 30. On Broadway in Miss Saigon, we had a cast of, like, 45. I'm liking this lots.

What was it like, being a founding student at the School for Creative and Performing Arts?

It was a special time! There were just a few of us - with cool parents who let their kids start doing what they wanted to do and a school system smart enough to provide a place to do it. Very special.

Not counting family, what do you miss most about Cincinnati?

Every Thanksgiving, I have Montgomery Inn delivered to New York City or wherever I'm working. Gotta have it at least once a year.

What's your favorite role in "My Fair Lady?"

I gotta say playing Harry, Alfred Doolittle's drinking buddy, with Jeffrey Kuhn and Peter Van Wagner. We are totally having a ball doing ("With a little Bit of") Luck and Church ("Get Me to the Church on Time").

What's your first theatrical memory?

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. I think I was 10 and went to see Death of a Salesman. At 11 years old, I won the role of John Darling in Peter Pan with Sandy Duncan. It's been a wild, wacky and wonderful ride.


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