“Even though I haven’t lived in Eastport for over 8 years, it is still the reason for everything I am today,” says Frank Schuth. “My theater background is almost solely centered around Stage East and the Arts Center, starting with my first role as a Shark/First Mate/Cloud Man in James and the Giant Peach at the age of five. From that moment on, I participated in just about every show Stage East had to offer, whether it was acting, tech, production, or front of house. While at Stage East, I played Don in Butterflies are Free, numerous roles in New Year’s shows, and played host alongside Reuben Grannis for the annual Moose Island Follies.”
Last month, Frank played George Bailey in Stage East’s Zoom-based production of It’s a Wonderful Life. “I leapt at the opportunity,” says Frank of the remote show, which attracted a cast of 19 and 100 viewers.“Despite being in an uncomfortable environment, it was the familiar and comforting world of Stage East. Even though names and faces have changed, it is still my home theater.”
Stage East is also ‘home theater’ to other actors who participated in the remote show—Audrey Bradbury, who played Mary Hatch, and Henry Schuth, who played Harry Bailey and barkeep Nick.
“Snoopy was my first real experience with acting so I guess you could say it’s what got me hooked,” remembers Audrey, an Eastport native and University of Maine at Farmington theater student. “I am very grateful for that experience because it was really the start of my involvement with theater and it awakened my adoration for acting.”
Five years later, Audrey performed alongside her parents Lisa Marquis Bradbury and Will Bradbury in I Ought to Be In Pictures. “Even after being in college productions my role as Libby Tucker is still one of my very favorites,” notes Audrey. “My grandmother also got to see my mom and me act in that play for the first time and sadly, shortly after she passed away. I think it was really beautiful that she got to see us perform together.”
Henry Schuth, another Eastport native and ‘middle child’ of the Schuth family, also had his start in theater at the EAC. “Growing up I felt in Sam’s shadow as he was older and just better at memorizing lines and acting because of that. I didn’t do a whole of acting after the three children’s shows my dad directed. Especially because he made me the stage manager in the last one: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. While now I know it was an incredible show of trust and respect in a child to make be stage manager, at the time it just felt like it meant I wasn’t a good actor.
“I didn’t regain much confidence in acting,” says Henry, “until I was cast as Mercutio in MYSTI’s production of Romeo and Juliet. It is a high coveted role that just about everyone wanted, and I was completely floored and taken by surprise that I landed it. The incredible experience of playing Mercutio reinvigorated my interest and confidence in acting. I felt like I actually might be good at it!“
“As I went to college I acted less and less,” recalls Henry. “At the same time Frank exploded with acting and became the star of the family. Playing Romeo in a production in Boston he was both getting incredible roles and showing them to a larger market.”
Henry’s return to the stage happened—with Stage East— during a college gap year when he played Charlie Brown in Snoopy! The Musical and Tom in The Glass Menagerie. About the latter, Henry recalls an opening night fiasco: “In a scene where I am supposed to throw my coat on my floor near the titular menagerie close—enough to it that my character’s sister is scared I will damage it—on opening night I accidentally hit it, knocked it over, and broke it all.
“I also was on stage constantly from that moment until the act break, so I had absolutely no time to calm down. The next scene, my character was drunk, so I just casually picked up the obvious pieces. The lights went out and I scrambled to pick up as much as I could until the sound cue for the next scene started and I had to run off stage. Chris [Grannis] was a hero and glued as much as she could back together during intermission.”
“Since then I haven’t had a whole lot of opportunities to act,” notes Henry, “though I acted in New Years Eve productions just about every year there was a part for me.” Of a show with brother Frank, part of a 2014 New Year’s showcase of Shel Silverstein plays, Henry recalls: “Despite it being a silly short play, Abandon All Hope is honestly one of my favorite acting experiences. It is a simple play: my character wants to go through the door despite the warning, Frank’s does not. We both are completely unwilling to give up our position. We found an ethos in the characters being completely opposed but unable to leave each other.”
After this past New Year’s reunion on the virtual stage with Frank, Henry reflects: ““I feel like I am coming into my own understanding what kind of actor I am and what I want to be doing. I no longer feel a competitiveness with my brothers over acting. Frank is the prototypical leading man with charisma and sincerity. I am content with him taking that role while I can be hopefully a scene stealing fan favorite character actor.
In memories running parallel to Henry’s, Frank recalls: “When I was 12, I played the role of Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet at the Maine Youth Summer Theater Institute (MYSTI), a two-week Shakespeare intensive camp at UMM. That experience expanded my love for acting and sparked my love for Shakespeare. When I moved to Boston in 2012, I found a similar camp with Actors’ Shakespeare Project where I got to play the roles of Romeo and Orlando in As You Like It. I went to the University of Massachusetts Amherst and studied Theater and English, playing a variety of roles throughout my time there.”
“I am now back in Boston, aiming to re-enter the theater community when it is safe to do so,” writes Frank, following last month’s remote New Year’s Show. “I had stepped away from acting, but this experience and my personal history have demanded I get it back in my life. I look forward to exercising this muscle again and involving myself in the communities here much like I did in Eastport.” With an eye to virtual collaborations, Frank adds, “I have already had conversations with my dad and brothers about our collective interest in doing more of these. A small blessing of this time is the ability for us to act again with our hometown troupe.“
“My current plan is to try to move out to LA,” chimes in Audrey, “after I graduate from UMF with a Theater major and at least a Spanish minor. And then I’d like to try to audition for screen acting roles and see how that goes for me for at least a little while. If that doesn’t go well I’d like to spend my life acting and being involved with theater in some capacity—it’s my favorite thing to do.“
“I have been reading scenes here and there with Frank now that we both live in Somerville,” writes Henry. “Once the world opens up again and there is a demand for live theater, I cannot wait to try to rent space and put on a half-hazard half-baked chaotic but fun and vital show with my family and friends.
“Overall [the remote] show made me think more about how I want to be doing theater in the future. For a while I had thought I needed to audition and get parts in established companies to do any work in the theater. Now I am just looking to do stuff I am excited about with whoever I can find, wherever I can put it on. It doesn’t really matter where it is or how well produced it is. Just finding ways to perform is all I am looking for at this time. The more guerilla it is, the better!