Photo Courtesy of Fremont Tribune
As instructors within the Performing Arts Department at Midland University, Dan Hays and Kyle Thomas are used to helping students hone their skills.
On Labor Day weekend, Hays and Thomas will have the opportunity to brush up on their own skills during a performance at the Fremont Opera House. Hays and Thomas will perform in the two-person show “Murder For Two.” The show is set for September 3-5, with showtimes at 7 p.m. on September 3-4 and 2 p.m. on September 5th. Tickets are $15 and are available at http://fremontoperahouse.org/buy-tickets/.
“It’s good for us to get back on the boards and remember what our students have to go through each performance,” Hays said.
Hays, Director of Theatre at Midland, saw the show several years ago in San Diego and believed it was a perfect show for the skill-set of himself and Thomas, Assistant Director of Performing Arts. “It’s such a unique show in that you have to be actors, dancers, and be able to play the piano,” Hays said. “Both Kyle and I do those things, so when I asked him his thoughts about doing the show, he immediately said ‘Let’s do it.’”
The play focuses around Detective Marcus Mascowicz (portrayed by Thomas) trying to solve a murder involving many suspects (each portrayed by Hays). The 90-minute performance is non-stop, with music, dialogue, and a fair share of chaos. “There’s never a costume change, and there are very few props, so it’s very pared down to just the story. It’s very funny and really an incredible show,” Hays said.
Neither Hays nor Thomas has performed in a two-person show before, which has presented a unique set of challenges. “There are times when you are playing an instrument while also having to do dialogue or sing,” Thomas said. “There’s really nothing straightforward about what we do for 90 minutes.”
“There’s one scene where it’s the two of us, but we’re trying to play three characters. It can get a little wild and crazy, but it’s a lot of fun,” Hays added.
Although he has directed or provided music for numerous performances, Thomas says it has been about seven years since he’s been on stage as a performer, and even longer for Hays. “It’s not unusual for instructors of Performing Arts to be involved in the community,” Thomas said. “We are quality educators who can teach, but we’ve also been active in the industry, so we’re not just talking about it. It gives us a chance to put our money where our mouth is.”
While Hays and Thomas have worked together for several years, it will be their first time sharing the stage as performers. The rapport that has been built over time goes a long way in ensuring a quality performance from the duo. “Since we both come from directing and music backgrounds, we have built that trust in each other,” Thomas said. “There’s a lot of things we don’t have to worry about because we think the same way.”
Hays said that trust is critical onstage, especially when they serve as actors and as their own directors. “In the world of theatre, it’s considered taboo to direct another actor on stage,” he said. “But Kyle and I have worked together for so many years; we trust each other. It’s been some of the hardest work I’ve ever done, but it’s been a blast to share the stage with Kyle.”
The pair is hopeful their students can make their way to a performance, although Hays admits there might be a little added pressure with students there to critique. “It’s a different kind of nervousness because you certainly don’t want to mess up in front of your students,” Hays said. “I had a student tell me that as instructors, we are always encouraging them to step out of the box. She told me how great it was to see Kyle and I go full tilt with this performance.”