Plum ‘Inherit the Wind’ role takes Corlew to new venue

After a few years in the U.S. Navy and a 20-year stint working at Conifer Park in Glenville, Barry C
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Barry Corlew likes to call himself semiretired, which means he’s no longer working to pay the bills, and instead doing only what he loves: acting.

After a few years in the U.S. Navy and a 20-year stint working at Conifer Park in Glenville, Corlew is now concentrating on his avocation and immersing himself in the Capital Region theater community. Since he has become such a familiar face to area fans over the past three decades, you might not notice the change, but one thing that’s different this spring is his venue. Instead of performing at the Schenectady Civic Playhouse, the Schenectady Light Opera Company or with Riverview Entertainment, his usual three hangouts, Corlew will be at Albany Civic Theater beginning May 2 in the role of prosecuting attorney Matthew Harrison Brady in “Inherit the Wind,” the story of the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Always an actor

A native of Ballston Spa who recently moved to the Albany area with longtime friend Bonnie Williams, Corlew started performing in the third grade and never stopped. He even kept acting in Spain during his two years in the Navy, and, when he got back to the U.S., he got busy directing a show celebrating the bicentennial for the village of Ballston Spa.

Q: Why did you want to do “Inherit the Wind?”

’Inherit the Wind’

WHERE: Albany Civic Theater, 235 Second Ave., Albany

WHEN: May 2 to 4, 8 to 11, 15 to 18

HOW MUCH: $15

MORE INFO: 462-1297 or www.albanycivictheater.org

A: I’ve been in the business for a while, and there are a few plays out there that have some great roles, and “Inherit the Wind” is one of them for me. I’ve been able to do Henry in “The Lion in Winter,” and I’d love to do “On Golden Pond” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Those are great plays with great characters. I love the language of words and “Inherit the Wind” has great language. The script is absolutely incredible, and it takes place in a courtroom, which has a tension built in all of its own.

Q: Did you get the role you wanted, the other plum part being that of Henry Drummond, who defends the schoolteacher accused of teaching evolution in his classroom?

A: Brady is larger than life, but I would have accepted either role because of the diversity of the two characters. Brady has a strong opinion and he genuinely believes in what the Bible says and that’s how he lives his life. But it would also have been interesting to look at it from the other side. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have the opportunity to play Drummond sometime in the future. They’re both very interesting characters.

Q: Why do you enjoy performing so much?

A: Wow, there are a lot of answers to that question. One of the things I’ve learned is that you find places within yourself that you didn’t know you had, and acting gives you the opportunity to bring them out. I love the language of the theater and finding ways to express what the playwright wants to see on stage. Developing a character is a lot of fun, and when you make that discovery the way you want to, it’s a very powerful thing.

Q: You also direct. Which do you prefer, directing or acting?

A: I really, really enjoy acting when it’s a role like the one I’m doing now. When I’m directing, I really enjoy the overall creativity involved, and putting all the senses to work, and dealing with other very creative people. Each show is different. So when you put something up on stage, it’s something that’s never been there before and I get a big kick out of that. I would prefer not to direct and act in the same show. I did that once and I hope to never do it again.”

Q: Do you still get nervous before a show?

A: I don’t know if nervous is the right word. But I actually get a little bit introverted and try to hold the energy in. I’ll quiet right down and pace before a show. I don’t think I would call it nerves. I think I’m just anxious. I want to get started, and I don’t like holding back and waiting for the audience to get there.

Q: What are some of your favorite roles?

A: I worked in a play that Doug Delisle directed called “Vieux Carre,” by Tennessee Williams, and that was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done. I have to go back to Henry again in “The Lion in Winter” as one of the best experiences I’ve had, and I expect “Inherit the Wind” will be one of those, too. Walking around the stage with Chris Foster [as Drummond] and working with [director] Carole King, I expect it to be a very powerful production.

Categories: Life and Arts

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