Mr. Marmalade

Kevin Reagan rehearses a scene in “Mr. Marmalade.”

Kevin Reagan asks a lot of questions.

That’s what a good reporter does.

But it’s also what a good actor does.

And Kevin is both.

When Kevin isn’t in the courtroom covering a murder trial, or poring over legal documents, he can often be found on stage in a local community theater production.

He says journalism and acting have a lot in common, so he can apply many of the same skills and preparations for both.

“Good acting is all about asking thoughtful questions. Why is my character doing this? What does my character want? What is the playwright trying to say? It’s a full exploration into the human condition,” Kevin said. “Journalism has the same goal. It’s trying to inform people how and why things happen. And when you boil the two down, it’s all about telling a good story.”

Kevin says theater has helped him recognize the elements of good storytelling.

“When I’m writing an article, I’m always thinking how the reader will interpret the information. Is it clear? Does it make sense? Is it engaging?” he said. “Acting requires the same type of reflection. Because if the audience doesn’t understand your character, then you’re failing the playwright.”

Kevin has appeared in a number of local productions, such as “Radium Girls,” “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” “Mr. Marmalade,” “Lucky Stiff” and “Spring Awakening.” He just auditioned for an upcoming production of “Our Town” by the BlackBox Foundation. It will be staged at Central Arizona College in April.

In “Radium Girls,” there was a role of a dogged newspaper reporter, but Kevin ended up playing Edward Markley, a cold, ethics-challenged lawyer.

So much for type-casting. But his job as justice reporter for Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc. and PinalCentral may have prepared him for the part.

Kevin got the acting bug early.

He said he had an active imagination as a kid and used to make up characters and stories. He said his family used to make fun of him because they would see him talking to himself in the backyard. When he became a teen he figured the best way to channel that energy was in taking acting classes.

He was in a production of “Guys and Dolls” in middle school but was given a non-singing part because he said he had little musical skill.

“I played the cop trying to catch all the seedy gamblers,” he said.

It was a small part but he remembers people telling him how great and funny he was.

He stuck with acting throughout his education, even performing a “terrifying” monologue for a talent show at the University of Arizona.

The Fine Arts Department was looking for students to perform any song or monologue of their choosing. The only catch was that the piece had to be against the performers’ type, or something they normally wouldn’t get to perform in the professional world. For whatever reason, Kevin chose to play Blanche DuBois from “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

“I figured it was my only chance to play a Southern belle,” he said.

The monologue was about Blanche recollecting on her dead husband.

“I was incredibly nervous with how the audience would react to seeing an 18-year-old boy play one of the great female characters of American theater. I didn’t want them to think I was being campy or a caricature,” he said. “I almost thought about backing out at the last minute. But I did the monologue and I got some of the best compliments of my life.”

Kevin has no plans to pursue acting professionally. Right now journalism is his job, and acting is a hobby.

“I once heard an actor say something like ‘Only become an actor if there’s absolutely nothing else in the world you can do,’” Kevin said.

I’ve been Kevin’s editor, and I’ve seen him perform on stage.

So, I know there are at least two things he does well in the world.

________

You can contact reporter Kevin Reagan at kreagan@pinalcentral.com.

Andy Howell is assistant managing editor. You can contact him at ahowell@pinalcentral.com or 520-423-8614.

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