Blog – Who is this LARRY LITTLE?????
Who is this LARRY LITTLE?
a story in two acts.
This post is the first of my blog posts…..Ken Davenport – The Producer’s Perspective….my hero, inspiration and mentor: thanks for giving me the courage…….
Now, those of you who know me well, know that since I am crazy in love with a 90 minute show with no intermission, may have thought this blog – with that title — was written by someone else. But you would be wrong. And, since I DO love those short, fast shows, let’s call the acts “scenes”.
Larry Little is my real name. After serious abuse by the bullies along the way, I finally embraced it around the age of 20. I was fortunate to go to a high school of the performing arts in Milwaukee in the 70’s. My classmates were James Zager, Danny Musha and Debra Walton – all movers and shakers in the theatre scene today. I started as an actor/singer/dancer – a juvenile character actor. Although I took ballet, jazz and tap lessons, I was rarely cast in the chorus. (Something I was not too happy about for a while.)
Loyola was my choice for college where I was fortunate to work with William Osetek (Drury Lane Oakbrook) and Jim Corti (Paramount Theatre). [I still remember Jim coming back from his audition from CATS and telling us that the choreographer looked like she had long white gloves on her arms.) Throughout my time at Loyola I was very busy and was cast in many wonderful musicals. I still remember being paid $25 a week at the Canterbury Summer Theatre in Michigan City IN and doing six shows that summer! And, I remember driving to the Clock Tower Dinner Theatre in Rockford IL where we would perform several shows a week (while I was juggling school work and my daytime job!) I became an Equity actor shortly after graduation and was very fortunate to work at Seaside Music Theatre in Daytona Beach Florida (once again five or six shows each summer). I stayed in Florida for a while jumping from show to show – that was where a lot of the action was back then – many equity theatres – all doing musicals – some just from Broadway.
I returned to the Midwest and my path turned toward television commercials, print ads and Equity children’s theatre. After making a significant amount of money on one ad (remember the old “PHONE FIRST” ads from Illinois Bell?…that was me….) I discovered that having money was nice. While I was an actor, my day job was as a bookkeeper (someone gave me the advice along the way to “don’t just be a waiter, use your brain” so that was my way of making money in between gigs.) I continued to work in the theatre and when my former boss – Chuck Hoenes – called asking me to do “Greater Tuna” I jumped at the chance to perform in this magnificent two actor show. During that show, I had a “moment” and I realized that I wanted to move out of performing into directing and producing. So I made a deal with the producer – I would help produce two shows for free – then I go on salary and stay on as associate producer. He agreed. So I acted as the on-site producer at the Clocktower in Rockford. While there I produced (and sometime directed and produced) several seasons of 5-6 musicals a year (in addition to sometimes directing and producing other shows elsewhere.) Then…….I gave it all up. I went back to school, became a CPA, and “retired” from show business. I moved into the position of “theatre patron”. And I loved it.
Well….after a long time of being a CPA, owning a CPA firm and helping a lot of old and new friends and theatre companies with their taxes, their IRS non-profit issues, etc. I sold my company and after a very brief hiatus, returned (it was not a comeback…”I HATE THAT WORD”….thank you Norma Desmond) to the theatre world. I spent a year meeting new people, talking with some very old friends, seeing every musical I could possibly get to and taking classes to “refresh” my memory and learn some new things.
Then….after some soul searching, some wonderful conversations and some powerful dinner parties, I asked myself…what do I want to do now? The answer came – “I want to produce a new musical”. After all of the shows I performed in, directed and produced (99 shows to be exact…this new show will be my 100th show), I realized I had never really worked on a show from the bottom up. (I remember doing a show that was an original show, but it had already had readings and was in great shape – thank you Jim Valq for THE PANCAKE KING). So, that is the plan.
And, I am already on my way. My non-profit company, CPA Theatricals, began a search for a composer team that could write the show based on a story of mine. (This story that I wrote came from years of me taking notes while I traveled the world…and worked my butt off as a CPA). Now, I am in the process of producing this show – as it is being written by the unbelievably talented people associated with UNDERSCORE THEATRE – Laura Stratford, Alex Higgin-Houser and David Kornfeld. I realize this process will take several years and many readings and workshops, but I am committed to having fun in this adventure.
It is great to see the people I started my theatre career with making a huge contribution in the Chicago Theatre World – Bill Osetek, Jim Corti, Michael Halberstam and David Zac. I am blessed to be able to say that I have made some new friends and colleagues that are also at the top of the list also: Amber Mak, Leo Schwartz. Cheri Coons and Philip Dawkins.
So, where is this going? I am not sure…This whole thing is quite an adventure. I do know that every show I see, I am so impressed with the talent. Actors, Actresses, Directors that work for so little money and yet – make magic on the stage. Cannot wait to join them.
NEXT UP: What I learned from watching million dollar musicals on their way to Broadway…….
Oh…by the way… I travel a lot…so I will be posting some pictures of me with some friends….. here is the first one……….