The self-referential farce — a play about a theatre company struggling to produce a play — is running at the Lyceum Theatre in New York City. With his rehearsals in full swing, Thatcher is preparing to tackle two roles, the hotheaded ego-driven actor, Robert, and Trevor, the stage manager who unwittingly finds himself in the spotlight as things go awry.
Thatcher is the understudy for both roles, meaning that he not only has to learn two vastly different characters, but also how to perform them in the style of the other actors. “My job is to emulate the actors’ performance,” he says. “It should be seamless for the rest of the cast and the audience.”
As he gets ready for the performance of a lifetime, we sat down with him to discuss his passion for theatre, life as a professional actor and how his experience at the University of Houston helped him achieve his dreams. Learn more in our Q&A below!
How did you begin your career? Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?
I actually got my bachelor’s degree in music, but always wanted to act. I thought I wanted to be a chorus teacher, but one of my professors at West Chester University encouraged me to follow an acting career. As an undergrad, I had a lot of musical theatre experience, but I found the beautiful language of classical theatre, like Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams, in grad school. Now, I focus on classical theatre. There’s something very powerful in bringing a Shakespeare monologue to life.
What draws you to the stage?
There’s so much enjoyment in playing complex roles and collaborating with other artists to bring something to life in front of an audience. Theatre offers an escape, but also a chance for the audience to see the “big emotions” — conflict, love — and reflect on them. It’s motivating to see the audience take something away from a performance.
How did studying at the University of Houston’s Professional Actor Training Program prepare you for your career as an actor? What influence did the program have on you as an artist?
My time at UH was invaluable. I got my bachelor’s degree in music, but I always wanted to act. At UH, I learned how to make characters three-dimensional, finding the truth in each character I played. It shaped everything I do, and really changed the whole trajectory of my career. I came out of Houston with craft.
Jack Young, director of the Professional Actor Training Program, pushed me to go for the big dream — moving to New York. He was a driving force in encouraging me to pursue theatre here.
What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing an acting career?
See as much theatre as possible. You learn so much by seeing amazing actors at work. You see what works, what doesn’t work; it’s all a learning opportunity. Most importantly, live life — you never know how your experiences will influence a character you play down the road.