As an actor, M.A. Smith is a chameleon; as a director, he takes guidance from his cast and, as a playwright, he is continually tweaking dialogue and admits, “I think it’s the most difficult job of the theatre.”
Smith’s original script “Tucker Falls” is coming to the stage at Magic Circle in November. It’s one of the few original plays performed in the 60-year history of MCP and, above all, he says, it’s a love story.
“It deals with the love for family, for the land, for the Old West and for a man’s love of his late wife,” said Smith. “Although Tucker Falls deals with several difficult topics, I think people will find it funny and romantic.”
Smith emphasizes that Tucker Falls is not based on anyone he has ever met or anything from his personal life. “I took a nugget of an idea from King Lear and the script just evolved from there,” he said.
Smith is a recognizable face at MCP and has been an active member of the group for more than 10 years.
“In fact, we decided to retire in Montrose after seeing ‘Beauty and the Beast’ here,” he said. “I was so impressed with the quality of the performance that I knew I wanted to be a part of this community theatre.”
Even then, Smith was no novice to the performing arts. He graduated from college in Greeley with degrees in Theatre and English. He moved to New York City and performed in several off-Broadway performances. He also wrote a one-act play that was performed off-Broadway and another performed at the Arvada Center for the Arts.
Smith was on his way to Los Angeles, when he stopped in Denver and decided he needed to find a paycheck to cover his acting expenses. He got a job as a customer service rep with an insurance company and, as usually happens in life, 25 years later, he retired as senior vice-president of Operational Risk Management for the Americas for ING Financial Services.
He never lost his love of the stage, though. During his time at MCP, Smith has acted in 13 plays, directed four, served on the Board of Directors and, now, has written and is directing Tucker Falls.
“Directing my own script has been an interesting challenge,” said Smith. “I intended one scene to be serious, but the actors saw it as a more humorous interaction. They were right, so the lines stayed the same but the delivery is quite different.”
As a director, Smith said he has always been impressed with the dedication of all of the volunteers at MCP. As an actor, his range of characters has been diverse. He said his most demanding role was as Norman, the personal assistant to a deteriorating actor in The Dresser. His funniest character was the blind hermit in Young Frankenstein. His most challenging role was as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady.
“I can’t sing,” he said. “So I just rapped my way through it.”
“All of us at MCP are committed to bringing quality work to the stage in our community,” said Smith. “Having Tucker Falls on the schedule this year is a true honor for me.”