The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

21 Jan
Bob Hunt

Have you tried community theater?

written by Bob Hunt in Blog | 4 comments

Ruby meets Oswald? The Hunt brothers attempt The Music Man.

My brother and I are professional educators, not actors, but we’re also longtime fans of The Music Man. A couple summers ago we followed a whim to audition for a local production of our favorite musical. Armed with hastily chosen songs and dramatic readings, we arrived at the community house and were almost immediately recruited into a mass drill by the choreographer, during which it was obvious to everyone that my brother and I would not be dancing in this show, if we would even appear at all. Nevertheless, we soldiered on through our auditions, heeded the classic warning to not call the director, and within a few days (wonder of wonders) he called us. My brother would portray the bumbling Mayor Shinn, and I would take the role of anvil salesman Charlie Cowell.

Weeks of practice followed in the cramped and sweltering community house. We dutifully memorized our lines and tried to make things as easy as possible for the director, who would buckle under the pressure and lash out at any substandard behavior from our volunteer cast. In the course of rehearsals, we befriended a diverse group of ordinary people with a great amount of talent. Our Harold Hill was a lawyer by day, his Marion just starting a career in early childhood education. “Shipoopi” singer Marcellus juggled his acting with managing a movie theater. Many in the cast were high school students, and a couple families populated the town of River City. Everyone gave their all, and my brother and I were richer for sharing the experience with them.

One thing I learned, in addition to the extraordinary amount of talent that lurks among the suburban populace, is that putting on a musical is a tremendous amount of work. I already knew this, at least intellectually, but experiencing it firsthand gave me a new appreciation for the effort behind good theater. I can’t begin to estimate the total number of hours of volunteered labor that went into a mere six performances. It was enough that, when asked to write my bio for the program, I added the line, “This is his last theatrical appearance.” A great experience, and one I’m grateful to have had, but not the sort of thing that I or my family would have the stamina to do on a regular basis.

And how about you? Have you jumped into the challenge of community theater? If so, what did you learn?



    Ontario Emperor
    on Jan. 22nd, 2008

    My daughter joined a Los Angeles area group called Children’s Theatre Experience several years ago. During one of her shows, the director put out a call for adult men to populate the cast for “Fiddler on the Roof.” Because it appeared that all of the men were going to be assigned speaking roles, I purposely auditioned for the smallest speaking role in the production – Second Man, the one who was talking about a mule (or was it a horse?). Having been in several productions since (when work schedules permit), I’ve noticed the casting preferences of the director. My friend Terry is often cast in “cop” roles, my friend Norm is often cast in “tuxedo” roles, and I am often cast in “bumbling fool” roles. I will be playing Mayor Shinn for the second time in a production later this spring.

    Since this is Barry’s site, it’s appropriate to mention that he closed his autobiography with praise for the theatre, where he ended up after his television acting heyday.

    Bob Hunt
    on Jan. 22nd, 2008

    Congratulations on your continuing participation in the world of theater. I’m glad that you consider the role of Mayor Shinn as a “bumbling fool” role. The TV production of a few years back totally flattened the character by portraying Shinn as competent and truly menacing. Where’s the fun in that?

    on Jan. 28th, 2008

    First off – first comment in this blog – I just found it this morning, and am finding it incredibly entertaining :)

    As for Community Theatre – I was in my first production in 1996, as the Widow Corney in Oliver. I think that it set roots in me that allowed me to do what I do now — I sing with a women’s barbershop chorus that is currently ranked 7th in the world. :)

    My husband’s last major role was as Mayor Shinn in Music Man – back in 1999. He was 32 years old then, and totally colored his hair so that he could salt and pepper it, and look old enough to have the part. He was particuarly happy to be given the role as he had always considered himself a singer first, and an actor second, and this was very much an “acting” role. He had a LOT of fun with it. After a 9 year hiatus, he ventured back into community theatre this year, and has a lead role in Pippin that he is looking forward to playing. He’s playing… uh.. the father. A name that I cannot remember right at this moment. :)

    Bob Hunt
    on Jan. 28th, 2008

    Mona – Wow! A top-ranked barbershop chorus – I’m very impressed! I didn’t mention in my original post how barbershop played a major role in our Music Man involvement. I actually have three brothers, and we started singing barbershop just for the pure fun of it by learning our parts from SPEBSQSA cassette tapes. When we first heard about the local MM production, all four of us had a hankering to try out for the quartet. Unfortunately, two of us couldn’t quite bend our schedules to accomodate all of the rehearsals and performances. So, I have an inkling about the great amount of talent it takes to sing barbershop really well (we don’t sing it really well- but it’s great fun). Keep harmonizing!

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