LATHAM – Kevin Gardner’s primary goal right now is to bump up the number of links on his IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) page, but when the opportunity to return to the Capital Region and take on a fascinating stage role presents itself, no one needs to twist his arm.
An East Greenbush native and Columbia High grad, Gardner spent much of the 1990s working in Hollywood both on screen and off.
Then, after returning to the Capital Region 20 years ago, he moved back out to southern California in 2015 to resume his pursuit of a TV/movie career.
He is currently back at his favorite Capital Region theater troupe, Curtain Call Theatre, to play writer Paul Sheldon in William Goldman’s 2012 play, “Misery,” based on the 1990 film with Kathy Bates and James Caan and the 1987 novel by Stephen King.
In 2018, Gardner was lured back to upstate New York by Curtain Call’s Carol Max to do the one-person play, “Every Brilliant Thing,” and it is at Max’s urging that Gardner is back in the area this month.
“Carol brought up the idea last year, and I thought to myself, ‘it’s the holidays, I still have family here, so why not make the trip,’ ” said Gardner earlier this week. “I ended up driving cross-country to do this, but it’s been fun and I love Stephen King. So it sounded like a good idea.”
“Misery” tells the story of a popular author who is injured while driving in a winter storm near the home of a woman living alone. The woman — an avid and somewhat crazy fan of Sheldon and his books — helps him recover but also ends up making him a virtual prisoner in her home.
The Curtain Call production is being directed by Cindy Bates. Amanda Dorman plays the woman keeping Sheldon captive, and Grant Miller plays the local sheriff who pays a visit to the house to check on the accident victim.
“Along with being a huge King fan, I did see the movie a handful of times so it is ingrained in my memory,” said Gardner, who after spending one semester at NYU after high school headed out to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles.
“Kathy Bates was just phenomenal in the film, and the stage play definitely follows pretty closely to the film and the book. Turning it all into a theatrical presentation is the challenge because on stage you can’t do some of the things you can do in the movies.”
In Dorman and Miller, Gardner is sharing the stage with two actors making their Curtain Call debut.
“I remember Amanda from her taking some publicity photos when I was here in 2018, and she is quite a diverse individual,” said Gardner. “She told me this role is the one she’s wanted to play her entire life, and she is just over the moon. I didn’t know her or Grant before rehearsals, and they are both new to Curtain Call, but it’s been fun getting to know them and working with them.”
Dorman has been involved in local community theater in various capacities for almost 20 years, including as actor, director and stage manager. A native of Columbus, Georgia, who now lives in Wynantskill, Dorman has most recently worked with Confetti Stage and Albany Civic Theater.
Miller was a pretty busy actor in the Capital Region in the 1990s, mostly at Albany Civic, but put that passion on hold to return to college in pursuit of an MBA. He spent most of the last two decades working at the New York State Education Department but retired in 2021, leaving him more time to return to the local stage.
Dorman and Miller’s lack of experience at Curtain Call isn’t a worry for Max, who said her troupe thrives on introducing new talent.
“In 30 years of being in business we have put a new face on stage in almost every production,” she said. “For ‘Misery’ both Amanda and Grant are making their debuts. Like each show that we cast we look for the right fit for each role and believe once again we have accomplished that with all three actors.”
In Bates, Max also has one of her favorite directors at the helm of “Misery.” Bates has also directed productions of “The Odd Couple,” “Broadway Bound,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” and “These Shining Lives.”
Gardner’s Capital Region resume includes 10 performances at Curtain Call, including a turn as the lovable Elwood P. Dowd in “Harvey.” He has also enjoyed roles as cynical reporter E.K. Hornbeck in “Inherit the Wind” at Albany Civic, the sinister yet kind-hearted Fagan in “Oliver!” at the Schenectady Light Opera Company, and Judge Lawrence Wargrave in Christie’s “And Then There Were None” at the Schenectady Civic Playhouse.
Gardner’s most recent Hollywood work included two short scenes with Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp in the American Crime Story series, “Impeachment,” from the fall of 2021. The 10-part drama followed the path of Monica Lewinsky and Tripp following Lewinsky’s affair with President Bill Clinton back in the late 1990s.
“I delivered a couple of subpoenas to Sarah Paulson, and she really is a lovely person to work with,” said Gardner. “I’ve been getting busier lately and I have a new manager, so hopefully I’ll be getting even more roles in 2023.”
Gardner’s more recent work also includes small roles in “Black Monday” and “Last Man Standing” in 2020 as well as HBO’s popular Emmy Award-winning series, “Big Little Lies,” in 2019.
He got his first official TV credit with an appearance on “Roseanne” back in 1993, and got additional work in a variety of other short roles in shows such as “Cybil” in 1995 and “Tracey Takes On” in 1997.
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 1 Jeanne Jugan Lane, Latham
WHEN: Opens Thursday and runs through Jan. 29; performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. One matinee performance will be held Saturday, Jan. 21
HOW MUCH: $30
MORE INFO: Visit www.curtaincalltheatre.com or call (518) 877-7529