James Calvert - Company Member of Parson's Nose Theater
James has performed in PNP’s Scapin, Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Cymbeline, The Perilous Streets of South Pasadena, The Perilous Streets of Los Angeles, School for Wives, Rip Van Winkle, The Imaginary Invalid, The Pied Piper Of Hamlin and A Christmas Carol. Also a member of Interact Theatre Company, James appeared in State of the Union, Tartuffe, Urinetown: The Musical, The Boarding House, Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, Juno & The Paycock, etc. With Opera Santa Barbara he acted in Die Lustige Witwe and The Pirates of Penzance. Several years and several pounds ago, James was a dancer touring with Diavolo Dance Theatre. Q: When did you begin acting and how did you get into it? What was your first role? A: Well, there were many beginnings and many first roles: My earliest memory of acting was playing a townsboy in A Music Man when I was ten, up in Santa Barbara. I loved it - every moment. But my mother swears my career began years before, when I played The Detective in a first grade whodunit about a missing adjective. She is still proud of my six year old version of Bogart. Professionally, my acting career began at the ripe age of eleven when I was cast in an episode of The Jeffersons. My first Equity role was King Phillip in The Lion in Winter at the Pasadena Playhouse. My first role with Parson's Nose was stepping in for Michael Manuel as Bottom in a Parson's Nose tour of A Midsummer Night's Dream. My first cross-dressing role was at Parson's Nose as one of the Ugly Stepsisters in Cendrillon/Cinderella!
Q: What are your favorite roles you've had a pleasure of playing and why? A: I particularly like a challenge and am never happier than when I'm cast in roles that scare me. When Opera Santa Barbara invited me to portray the Major General in the Pirates of Penzance, I thought of that famously wordy rapid patter song and felt a delightful dread in my stomach. So of course I said yes! At Parson's Nose, my favorite roles are legion, but I have to say The Marriage Proposal was particularly scary because I'm very easy to crack up onstage and Lance and Marisa were so screamingly funny that I was always just a hair's breadth away from corpsing!
Q: When you're not performing, how do you like to spend your time? If you weren't an actor, what other profession would you have liked to explore? A: Well, huh. That's a tough question because I've been an actor my whole life. It's what I've wanted to do, and what I do. At one point I was a dancer in the Diavolo dance troupe, but when the dance tour conflicted with acting work, I chose to pursue acting and drop my dance career. When not acting I think of myself as a bon vivant and boulevardier. I have done some writing, and managed to option a script (once), win an award (once), and get published in a literary magazine (once). Hope springs eternal that more opportunities will present themselves in that arena. I also have taught drama to young children with InterPlay, SCAP, LA's BEST, Theatre Phoenix, East LA Classic Theatre, the Kingsmen Players, among other institutions.
Q: Share a story about something you experienced on stage or saw in another production that could only happen in live theater. A: The play must go on. Nobody ever yells, "cut!" There are no second chances. So, at one point I was performing Shakespeare with Parson's Nose - and I started one of my lines incorrectly. What does one do? Well, you improvise to keep the story moving, and you pray your fellow actors can save you. But it's Shakespeare. So I found myself watching Lance give me the most quizzical look, as I proceeded to improvise a couplet, with the plot point I needed to convey, in rhyming iambic pentameter in Jacobean English. (Lance never mentioned it, but I'm sure he was preparing a good one about using the quarto over the folio edition, or admonishing me not to sully our Willy with any Johnson or Marlow.)
Q: What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you personally during a performance? A: I did have the experience of playing a rather unsavory character of questionable morals once. Not that that's in any way embarrassing or funny - but then there was that one particular performance where my mother came to see the production. She was caught up in the story, and couldn't hold back her opinion on my character's ethics. I'm sure no one else heard her, but I, of course, am acutely tuned into her voice, and spent the rest of the show hearing my mother scold me sotto voce!