Seasoned actor enjoys adult comedy

From BMO financial services manager to Hollywood producer.

Robert Conway, 41, does both as he makes the transition from his day job at the Bank of Montreal in Courtenay to that of Jessie Kiplinger in the second act of Neil Simon’s comedy Plaza Suite. The six evening performances from Courtenay Little Theatre (CLT) opens this Thursday at the Sid Williams Theatre.

Conway is no stranger to CLT productions. His stage resume includes: Amadeus, The Foursome, Maggie’s Getting Married and Peter Pan.

A love of performing and an enjoyment of adult comedy was the reason why he auditioned for director Shari Jakubiec. She chose him to play Kiplinger, who is a survivor of three failed marriages.

He arrives in New York at the Plaza Suite and attempts to reconnect with an old sweetheart named Muriel Tate, who is played by Courtenay Middle School drama teacher Lisa Williams.

With his job and being on stage in the community, Conway admitted he does get recognized when he’s out in public.

How does he deal with first night nerves?

“Just get that first line out,” he offered. “ I am only nervous just before I go on. Then it’s like rolling downhill.”

Conway is not one to memorize his lines, he confessed when queried about the rehearsal process for a community actor.

“I don’t learn lines, so much as learn the character.  Once you understand why the character says what he says and does what he does, the lines come naturally.”

Joking the pay won’t make him quit his day job, Conway said there’s a fine balancing act — family, work and rehearsing — when it comes to being involved in community theatre.

What does Conway bring to the character he’s playing? 

“Jessie is lonely, wishing to reconnect with his past,” he said. “I can identify with that feeling and draw on my own past experiences.”

During the rehearsal process the past month, Conway had no problem getting into character. He would ask himself “what does Jessie want?” and try to connect that feeling to something in real life.

Being in a comedy, according to Conway, allows him to play off his fellow actors. There’s plenty of fun on stage at rehearsal.

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