The Journal-News spoke with actor Chris Nelson, who plays the lead of Jim in the upcoming INNOVAtheatre production “Of Men and Cars” at Sorg Opera House in MIdletown this Friday and Saturday.
Q: Tell us about “Of Men and Cars.”
Chris Nelson: “Of Men and Cars” follows Jim on his journey from boyhood in the mid- 1950s to manhood, specifically focusing on his relationship with his father. Memorable characters from Jim’s past interact with him throughout the show as he learns about himself, his father, and what he knows (and doesn’t know) about the world around him as he grows up. There are comedic moments, dramatic moments, and moments that, hopefully, connect the audience with their own past in nostalgic or self-reflective ways.
Q: Can you tell us about your role and what you feel like you bring to the part?
A: In many ways, Jim is like a lot of us — he knows very little about the larger world as a child, he thinks he knows everything when he is a teenager, and he finds out there is still much more to learn when he and his father are older. The show opens with Jim as a four-year-old watching his Dad fix his 15-year-old car and asking many questions. You see him become “the most dangerous animal on the planet” when he gets his driver’s license at 18. He and his father share a drive to go fishing later in life and the car offers time and a place to reconnect. The show gave me many reasons to look at my own relationship with my father: the good times, the bad times, and the time that I’ve probably wasted because of selfishness or short-sightedness.
Q: What are you most excited about as far as bringing the production to the stage?
A: First, it’s on the Sorg Opera House stage. It’s a beautiful setting for the performer and audience member to share together. I also think that offering a show on behalf of INNOVA beyond their amazing musical theater performances is a wonderful opportunity for their patrons to experience something different. This is the first time that “Of Men and Cars” is being produced in the area beyond the staged reading at 2018′s FutureFest. I think that’s pretty special.
Q: Why would you encourage community members to come out and see the show?
A: INNOVA is producing high-quality theater for Middletown and this area. Community support is so critical to INNOVA and the Sorg, which is truly a gem. Many forms of the arts are still recovering from the Covid pauses and I would say that the performing arts are a very important piece of our vibrant community here in the Hamilton and Middletown areas. “Of Men and Cars” will make you laugh, cry and think about the world around you — all reasons why the arts are so important to who we are as people.
Q: How can community members find out more about the show?
A: INNOVAtheatre will present “Of Men and Cars” at the Sorg Opera House Friday and Saturday. Reserved tickets are $25 and are available at sorgoperahouse.org/tickets/ofmenandcars and at www.cincyticket.com. There will be three performances with shows at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and a 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday.
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