It’s an actor’s life for Terence Goodman
February 20, 2010
When Parkite Terence Goodman fills out his tax return next month, he’ll feel a little surge of pride as he plugs in his occupation. "You are what you put on your tax return, and I’ve put actor on mine for almost 40 years," he says.
Of course, life as an actor hasn’t always been easy. "I’ve had some good years and I’ve had a lot of bad years," he says. "You really have to hustle in this business, no matter what level you’re at. You have to have the talent, but you also have to have luck and you have to be in the right place at the right time."
Goodman found himself in that fortuitous position this winter when he snagged roles in three consecutive productions with Pioneer Theatre Company (PTC), a professional theatre company in Salt Lake City.
He was hired to act in "Twelve Angry Men," which opened last week and continues through Feb. 27; "Our Town," which runs March 12-17; and the season finale, "42nd Street," which runs April 23 through May 8.
"It’s kind of unheard of for a Utah actor," he says of being cast in all three plays. "I’m extremely grateful for their loyalty." The triple-bill performances mark his return to PTC after roles in 2007’s "Paint Your Wagon" and the 2006 production of "Chicago."
Goodman’s career in showbiz started at the age of 12 when he took his puppet show on the road in Iowa. He went on to major in theatre in college and eventually earned his master’s degree in directing.
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He’s spent 15 years in New York and 18 in Los Angeles, and he’s acted in half a dozen motion pictures, more than 30 TV shows, upwards of 40 national commercials, and every form of theatre from summer stock to Broadway. "There isn’t an aspect of the business that I haven’t been involved in," he says.
He moved to Park City in 2005 and a couple years later, he was hired as artistic director for The Egyptian Theatre. He held that position for two years before the board decided to eliminate it due to budget cuts last spring.
Finding himself in the "unemployed actor" category wasn’t foreign to Goodman, but it was worrisome nonetheless. He says he sent out more than 100 resumes and got very little feedback. "I didn’t know how I was going to make ends meet. It was a difficult year financially and personally," he says.
Despite the Egyptian being the source of his angst, Goodman harbors no hard feelings toward the local theatre. "I have such a special place in my heart for the Egyptian," he says. I’m very honored to be part of their 81-year history." He’s proud to be a part of a lineage of artistic directors that includes Richard Scott, John Caywood and Dana Durbano, he adds.
Goodman is also supportive of the work Randy Barton is doing at the theatre. "I think the theatre owes Randy a huge debt of gratitude for keeping the lights on in a time where many theatres are going dark," he says. "That he’s been able to keep the doors open is incredible."
Goodman got the news that he was cast in "Twelve Angry Men" last November. The play takes place in a 1950s courtroom in New York and centers on a murder trial in which the suspected killer is the victim’s son. A jury of 12 men of various backgrounds is left to decide the young man’s fate. "It’s a show that really underlines our judicial system," Goodman says.
In the beginning, it’s an open-and-shut case, he says. However, one juror dissents, and one by one, the others start to see the rationale.
Goodman’s character, Juror No. 12, works at an ad agency in New York and is one of the less aggressive men in a group that includes an architect, a Wall Street broker, a painter and a marmalade salesman. "I’m the only one who’s not a yeller," he says. "It’s like 11 angry men and me."
Goodman is among a cast that includes six Utah actors and six New York actors, two of whom have been nominated for Tony Awards. "It’s one of the finest casts I’ve been associated with in 38 years in the business," he says. As of Tuesday, the first six performances had received standing ovations.
When he’s not on stage for "Twelve Angry Men," Goodman is rehearsing for "Our Town," which is set in 1930s small-town America. He plays Constable Warren, a policeman who takes on the responsibility of protecting the town. "It’s a touching story," he says. "It’s about not taking life for granted. It has a dark side to it, too."
Goodman’s last hurrah for the season at PTC will take shape in "42nd Street," which he describes as "full of glitter, glitz and Broadway." The story centers around Peggy Sawyer, who dreams of making it as a chorus girl in New York City. As the understudy for the lead, Sawyer ends up going in at the last minute.
Goodman plays the show’s financial backer, Abner Dillon, "a loudmouth, pompous Texan" who essentially buys his girlfriend the lead role. "It’s a show I’ve done before and I’m happy to be doing it again," he says.
If it sounds like the local actor has a lot to juggle right now, he does. He has a full plate, but he’s just happy to be working. "It’s a lot of work, but this is what I chose to do and this is what I do," he says.
He says he appreciates the professional caliber of the staff at PTC, especially artistic director Charles Morey and managing director Chris Lino. "They’re both extremely savvy and extremely experienced," he says. "Now having been an artistic director, I know how difficult it is."
After "42nd Street" wraps in May, Goodman will prepare to direct a production of "Mousetrap" at the Old Lyric Repertory Company in Logan. Then it’s back to the hustle, sending out resumes, auditioning, and living hand to mouth. "That’s the life of an actor," he shrugs.
He says he hopes to see professional theatre return to the Egyptian in the future, but he is happy that the doors have remained open. "I wish them only the best," he says. "I would tell everyone in town to support the theatre as much as possible."
For more information or to purchase tickets to "Twelve Angry Men," "Our Town" and "42nd Street," log on to http://www.pioneertheatre.org .