Well, I’m not sure where the fall went, but it’s time to think about turkeys and stuffing (YEE-HAW!), and then about rushing out to buy that last-minute gift, dipping into the eggnog, and celebrating. But before I get to any of that, I am sharing my next interview with you. This month, I interviewed ally Jeff Smith. Jeff is an actor, model, and man of all trades in the Kansas City area (ooh, does that sound bad??).
1. I understand that you have been involved in numerous theatrical productions in the KC area. First of all, how long have you been acting?
In the Kansas City area, about six years. I was pretty lucky when I started here, being onstage with some of the best actors the city has to offer right out of the gate, Ron Megee, Jessica Dressler, Kelly Main, Missy Koonce.
I’ve only been acting here and there throughout my life. I remember doing a 3rd-grade play and loving every second of it, but got away from it due to sports. The same thing happened when I did show choir in high school and college; I loved performing, but often turned my back on that love to pursue other interests I thought were more pertinent.
2. How did you get involved in the KC theater scene?
I performed in shows at Worlds of Fun in the summers when I was 20 and 21. From there, Nick Padgett saw me, cast me as the lead in Evil Dead at Union Station when I was 23. That show was not only the first professional show I’ve ever been involved with, it also was the first time I was in a production since playing Cinderella’s Prince during my senior year of high school! Ron Megee and Jeff Church saw me in that show [Evil Dead>, talked with me about doing Pride and Joy for Actors Against AIDS, and the rest just culminated from there!
3. You’re involved with Kick Comedy Theater doing improvisational theater. What do you enjoy about improv?
Telling a good story. That is the most rewarding feeling for a performer. Telling a compelling story that resonates with a crowd on multiple levels. Connecting with the audience and surprising them through that story. I’m very lucky to be involved with the Kansas City Improv Company, as well as Mortal Wombat, my improv troupe (which as of this writing has won four straight Underground Throwdown Championships), and an improv duo, #RossandRomeo, I perform with Jerome Staab.
4. In October, you were in Back to the Future: A Staged Reading [from Stuffed Buffalo Productions”>. That sounds like so much fun! Can you tell me about that experience?
I got to live my dream! Back to the Future is my all-time favorite movie. It’s perfect. Stage readings always allow the kid in you to come out. I got to be on stage, with great friends, reenacting an awesome movie. It was so much fun.
5. What has been your favorite role that you have played?
That’s tough because I’ve had so many memorable moments in KC theater. … I would have to say Ash from Evil Dead and the Minotaur in Hungry. In Evil Dead, I got to portray a true hero’s journey by taking a nerdy Ash and making him a bad-ass by the end. Plus there was a lot of blood, and I had a chainsaw for a hand. Hungry was the antithesis of that. I didn’t say a word the entire show, but I’ve never been so connected and in character on stage.
6. What role would you love to play in the future?
I know I’m kinda known as the “muscle guy” in Kansas City, but I would want to play a quirky side character. That’s the beauty of improv, you can make the audience believe whatever you are through commitment. I’d also love to get back into doing more musicals, and I’ve been working with my vocal coach and on dance ability.
7. If somebody in the area would like to become active in the local theatre scene, how should she or he go about it?
Honestly, the best way to go about it is to go to theater and make connections. This community is so open, loving and supportive. Get out, see theater, talk to directors, actors, writers, and seek out opportunities. People in this town want to help! Audition for everything to further those connections. Do a Fringe show to showcase your skills onstage.
8. You have also been active in AIDS Walk Kansas City. How did you become involved?
I have done the AIDS Walk every year or been involved every year since I was 20. I’ll never forget when one of my best friends told me he was HIV-positive in college. … I was heartbroken. I’ve had so many friends affected by HIV and AIDS that I always want to be involved until there is a cure. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of Actors Against AIDS and KC Strips to raise money for the walk and the cause. We’ve lost so many friends. … It’s so important to be involved, raise money, and fight for the cure.
9. What is your favorite part of the AIDS Walk activities?
Coming together as a community to laugh, cry, sing, and, of course, walk. We become united against this terrible disease and raise money to help our friends and family in Kansas City.
10. OK, I like to do something fun for my final question. If you had to be trapped in a TV show, which one would you choose, and who would you play?
Oooooo! This is a tricky one. … Well, my favorite show is wrestling, Monday Night Raw. I’m going to take the easy way out and say I would be trapped in that show and play my wrestling persona, "