The Congressman Likes the Spotlight
For so many actors, there comes a time when the day job finally forces a farewell to the stage. But Gerry Connolly is keeping the dream alive -- even now that he's in Congress.
The Democratic House freshman from Fairfax is currently playing the small but crucial role of the taxi driver in a production of "Harvey" by NoVa's Providence Players, despite the fact he made only one rehearsal with the community theater before the first curtain rose Sept. 25.
"I gotta be honest with you: The only way I'm able to do it is they're extremely patient and long-suffering," Connolly told us. "They know I'll somehow memorize my lines and get it right onstage."
That's because Connolly, a drama geek from high school on, has been with the troupe almost as long as he has been in politics, playing a dozen roles since 1995. "I've been a murderer, a drunk Elk, an entomologist, a psychiatrist, a forensic expert and a politician," he said. But no role was more savored than that of clueless Officer O'Hara in "Arsenic and Old Lace." He got to use an Irish brogue for that one.
Was it politically expedient for a fledgling troupe to bring a Fairfax County supervisor into the fold? Board member Chip Gertzog told us they used to write small roles just for him, and Connolly helped Providence find its current home in the James Lee Community Center Theater.
"But it became apparent he had more than enough talent to carry off a real role in a real play," said Gertzog, director of "Harvey," which has final performances Friday and Saturday. On an average night, the company might draw 180 theatergoers, he said: "There are probably better ways to reach voters than Providence Players."
So why, now that he has the grand platform of C-SPAN, does Connolly stick to the stage? "I'm kind of a shy and retiring person," he joked, "so this forces me to get out of myself."
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