Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
A well-known actor stopped to have lunch in Havre Monday, on his way through town while taking a break from acting in the Fort Peck Summer Theatre production of “The Foreigner.” “We’re on a road trip,” Clarence Gilyard Jr. Said about his stop in Havre. Gi lyard, perhaps best known for his television roles as Ranger James “Jimmie” Trivette in “Walker, Texas Ranger” and Conrad McMasters in “Matlock,” will perform in his third and final weekend production of Larry Shue’s “The Foreigner” the end of this week.. “I adore it,” Gilyard said about acting with the Fort Peck troupe in Montana. Gilyard and Fort Peck artistic director Christopher Kristant and associate artistic director Scott McGee met Montana Actors’ Theatre veteran Pam Veis, who is acting in “The Foreigner,” in Havre for lunch. Gilyard said this is his first trip to the eastern part of Montana, although he has skied near Whitefish before. The connection with the Fort Peck theater came through Gilyard’s teaching position at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where McGee is pursuing his master’s degree in screenwriting. Gilyard said McGee asked him if he would be interested in acting with the company, and he asked where it was located. “He said Montana I said I would love to take my family to Montana and spend the summer,” Gilyard said. He said it was a good decision he and his family had a wonderful time, especially his children. “They loved it. They cried when I put them on the plane, but school has to start,” he said. He has enjoyed acting with the Fort Peck company and has enjoyed being in the area. “I would like to come back again,” Gilyard said, adding, “I really like the people. I’m a country boy.” As this is the final week before the last shows of the season, he, McGee and Kristant decided to tour the state to see some minor league baseball the schedule fell so they could plan on watching games in Great Falls and Helena, although the game set for Monday night in Great Falls was postponed due to the threat of lightning. The group planned to travel to Missoula and Bozeman Gilyard said he would like to visit the University of Montana and Montana Stat e University. The stop in Havre gave a chance for one of Gilyard’s fans to meet him Roxanne Brewer came to greet him While he ate in Wolfer’s Diner. Brewer told Gilyard she never missed an episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger.” “Nobody called me from 8 to 9 (p.m.) on Saturday, because I was very rude (to them,)” she said. “That was my Walker, Texas Ranger’ time.” After meeting Gilyard, she said the chance to talk to him was thrilling. “It was awesome,” she said. “I was hoping I would get to meet him.” Gilyard said while eating lunch that he has pulled back from acting in films and television, although he does stage work during the summer, “keeping my union card current.” He said that while being in hit shows he has appeared in movies including “Die Hard” and “Top Gun” as well as his television work is gratifying, but even when the elements are there and the show is successful “it gets grueling. It can wear and tear on your family.” He said having a hit show takes a major commitment. “Trying to make a television show a hit would be comparable to making it into the playoffs in a major league sport,” Gilyard said. He said he decided, with his growing family, “I needed to grow up.” McGee said the advice Gilyard has for other actors is incredibly valuable. “If anyone could be a role model for young actors, it would be Clarence,” he said. “That doesn’t come without having to grow up,” Gilyard said, adding that he remembers one of his mentors in graduate school telling him to be careful what he wished for, to be careful who he wanted to emulate. Success doesn’t come without hard work and trials and tribulations. “I would not necessarily wish my career on anyone,” Gilyard said, adding “but we’re very blessed.” Gilyard said one of the high points of his career actually has been acting in “The Foreigner” at Fort Peck. Gilyard plays the main character, whom most of the other characters think doesn’t speak English leading to many comic turns in the play. “The play is tremendously silly, funny,” Gilyard said. “It has a message, but it’s a very funny play.” He said the audience has responded well to the production. “They’re laughing really, really, really hard that’s three reallies,” he said. Veis said Gilyard fires up the audience. “All Clarence has to do is show up in the door and the crowd starts to applaud,” she said. Gilyard said Veis, acting in her third comedy with Fort Peck Summer Theatre, also has been funny in the production. “Pam was funny from Day One,” he said. “I felt pressured from Day One,” she responded. Kristant said Gilyard’s experience and ability has added to the show all of the cast has worked to define the comic moments, and to build on those. “(Clarence) doesn’t talk, but all the laughter comes from him,” Kristant said. Gilyard recommended people come to see the play, although he warned making it in to the Sunday matine may be difficult it could well be sold out. “People coming from Havre will get their money’s worth,” he said, adding, “And it’s very healthy to laugh like that, so they’ll be doing their health a favor.” The show runs at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 4 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices are $15 for adults and senior citizens, $10 for students kindergarten through 12th grade, and $5 for pre-school children. People 62 and older may attend the Friday evening performance for $10. Tickets are available at the Fort Peck Summer Theatre Box Office Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or one hour before show time. Tickets also are for sale, Monday through Friday at the G l a s g ow C h amb e r o f Commerce.