Broadway actor and Crescent Valley Graduate Kevin Loomis is back in Corvallis to teach two theater workshops at Corvallis High School’s Black Box Theater on Sept. 29, featuring one free after-school edition for students and an evening workshop for adults. Loomis intends to tell students about his experiences over 35 years as a professional actor on Broadway and elsewhere, and put them through exercises to help develop the skills needed for success.
Loomis’ workshop was originally billed as a “Spiderman(sic)” workshop, however his 3½ years spent in the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark won’t be the focal point. Loomis was a swing, or understudy in Spider-Man – he didn’t do any wirework in stage, although judging by his amazing performance as George M. Cohan in the 1976 CVHS/CHS production of the musical George M!, he probably could have.
Kevin Loomis grew up in Corvallis, where he graduated in 1975. He was trained in theater by Crescent Valley’s Gary Christianson, a man whose talents put him far beyond the average high school drama teacher. As a former classmate of Loomis’ and a former student of Christianson’s, I was very happy for the chance to interview him about the workshop and his memories of Corvallis.
JB: What skills will you be teaching [in your workshop]?
KL: We will be doing some warm-ups, looking at some prepared monologues and deconstructing what goes into them and how to approach them. It will mostly be basics on how to approach a role, what to consider, and the myriad of choices that affect one’s performance. There will also be a look at my time in Corvallis and how my career has been shaped during my 35 years as a professional, a Q and A session and maybe a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down the pants….
JB: Are there skills which you learned specifically for Spider-Man?
KL: I was a swing/understudy on Spider-Man, covering three men, in three different tracks. This was the first time I had done this. I covered one principal role – J. Jonah Jameson, editor of the Daily Bugle – and two featured ensemble tracks – Peter’s Uncle Ben and a few other parts that actor played in that track. I also understudied the father of Spider-Man’s girlfriend Mary Jane, and about five other parts in that track.
Note: On stage and especially in musicals, actors often play more than one role. An understudy will then have to train to perform in all of that actor’s “track” of roles.
JB: Are there any stories you’d be willing to share about doing theater at CVHS?
KL: CVHS Theatre, and especially Gary Christianson (my drama teacher and still close friend) laid the groundwork for my passion, my abilities, and most importantly my willingness to tackle any role. He helped make me fearless and not to put limits on my abilities.
JB: Are there things you miss about 1970s Corvallis?
KL: I miss Corvallis, period! Its beauty. Its calmness. Its closeness to the mountains and the ocean, and how you can get pretty much anywhere in ten minutes.
Kevin Loomis’ Master workshop is free of charge to students, grades 6th through 12th, at the CHS Black Box Theater, September 29 and 30, from 3:30-5 p.m. The adult workshop will be $10 at the door and will take place from 7:30-9 p.m, also at the Black Box Theater on 1400 NW Buchanan Ave., Corvallis, OR 97330.
By John M Burt