Friday, June 3, 2011

'Night George

One of the first plays I reviewed for The Press was a Shakespearean production at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. At the end, I noticed that one of the little cameo performers I had enjoyed didn't appear at curtain call. I checked the playbill and the missing actor was George Spelvin. I complained to my friend Pete DeMaagd who was sitting in front of me. Pete said he didn't know who Spelvin was, but Joe LaChappelle played the role I was interested in. Turns out Joe played two roles in that production. Thanks to him, I discovered the old theater tradition of using the phantom name, George Spelvin, when a person plays more than one role. I also discovered Joe, who did maintenance at Civic and jumped at the chance to do any acting he could. Joe just bubbled with enthusiasm. And he grew in his acting ability until last year he played the leading role in Inherit the Wind. This week he died. What a terrible loss. But you know, I can't think about him without smiling. He was just such a happy guy. Night, George.

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