Thursday, February 15, 2007

Proud Papa

I want to use this space this time to brag a bit on my youngest son Stewart. Number one son Ian will get some time here soon. But, because we went to Chicago last weekend to see Stew perform in a college stage production, I have to strike while the iron is hot.

Stewart William Calhoun is now 22, and in his last year at the best place he could possibly be for a kid who wants to be an actor…the theatre conservatory at DePaul University which is called simply…The Theatre School. It is one of the more revered crucibles for performers, writers, and theatre management people in this country. We feel fortunate that Stewart was accepted there.

We packed up the grandmas and grandpa last Friday to head for Chicago to see Stew, and his college friend Jessica Rosenberger (from Dwight, Michigan), perform as the leads in young composer Jason Robert Brown’s (pic right) The Last Five Years. This musical has accumulated a cult-like following since it opened in Chicago in 2001, and then moved on to New York for an off-Broadway run in 2003. Younger people know all about it. Older people tend to be in the dark. But, it’s a great show that features two performers and a small orchestra. The story line is unique in that it follows the story of a couple’s relationship from their first date to their eventual break-up with a marriage in the middle. But, the woman tells the story from the end to the beginning, while the man tells it chronologically. When they cross paths on stage in the middle of the show they sing a wedding duet. Otherwise, it’s mostly one person on stage at a time.

Anyway, the music was great…and this show was spectacular, particularly for a college production. I don’t want you to think that just because Dad is writing, that I’m the only one who thought it was any good. At least one reviewer (Colin Douglas with Center Stage dot net, which covers the Chicago entertainment scene) wrote:

Skilled young actors Stewart Calhoun and Jessica Rosenberger completely inhabit their roles, allowing the audience to share in the joys, sorrows, successes and disappointments of their characters. Thankfully, both actors also possess pleasant singing and speaking voices, along with crisp diction not always found in today's theater.

The director and set designer got raves for their work too. Music Director, and one of Stewart’s professors, Mark Elliott should be praised for his work at the piano and assembling a great group of musicians to support the actors.

For a parent, buying into the dream of a kid who wants to be an actor is daunting, especially when he wants to take the more legitimate route through a private university’s theater program. It’s an enormous mountain of tuition and uncertainty to face and climb. But, because Stewart has known since he was in grade school that he wanted to be on stage…and demonstrated the talent and commitment to see his dream through…Barb and I decided years ago that the best thing we could do was to be as supportive as we possibly could. Seeing him carry a show as a lead actor/singer for the first time in a very professional presentation was thrilling, satisfying, and rewarding. To say the least, a number of tears were shed as we enjoyed our son performing and thriving “in his element”.

I’d also like to mention that because of the type of person Stewart is, my sister Bonnie Heffernan, her husband Mark, and daughter Lindsay, along with a number of other friends drove five hours to the "Windy City" to see the show too. That speaks to the loving support that Stewart has been fortunate to enjoy during his young life. I know he is as grateful as I am for that. He wouldn't be the great young person he is without it.

As to Stewart’s future…he will graduate in June with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from DePaul. Before that happens he will travel with other graduating students to Los Angeles and New York to perform/audition in front of casting agents, directors, producers etc. You know, people that might hire him in the future…or hopefully immediately. We certainly are holding out the possibility that he could become a big star of some kind. We also understand that not many of the thousands of people who enter the “show biz” work force each year with the same dream as Stewart make it. So, picking the right agent and getting Lady Luck on his side are the big things right now. He has the tools, talent, and the training, now he needs “the break”.

But, whether or not Stewart makes it big, he has already brought so much joy into the lives of his parents, family and friends that there is no chance he will ever be considered a failure. As a parent, all we want is to be sure that our child is happy with the path he has chosen in life. Seeing him in this show was proof that he has done that.

Now…go break a professional leg, Stew!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Congratulations not only on your son's budding career, but also on your "Iron Man" record with the Blues. It's a pleasure knowing you!

Ron Wilson