Shemar Moore can barely keep track of what day it is, much less what city he's in. Wait. It must be Friday because he's just flown in on the red-eye from Los Angeles, where he wrapped up another week on "The Young and the Restless."
He happens to be in Philadelphia, but as of tomorrow, he'll be in Baltimore for the return engagement of the stage play "The Fabric of a Man" at the Lyric Opera House.
"I'm doing so many things right now you'd swear I had three or four of me, which I wish I did have because sleep is a hard thing to find in my life," Moore says after delaying an interview for several hours in an effort to catch up on some of that elusive sleep. And did we mention that along with the soap opera and play, he continues to be the host of "Soul Train"?
Here's how it works: Mondays through Thursdays are devoted to "The Young and the Restless," on which he plays photographer Malcolm Winters, a role that won him a Daytime Emmy last year. Thursday nights he flies to whatever city "The Fabric of a Man" happens to be playing. (The show is only performed on weekends.) And, one weekend a month he works on "Soul Train," which tapes four shows at a time. The next taping may coincide with "The Fabric of a Man's" Los Angeles engagement. "`The Fabric of a Man' thinks I have an `S' on my chest," he kids.
The latest show by Morgan State University alum David E. Talbert, "The Fabric of a Man" marks Moore's theatrical debut. "I always knew that I was going to need to do theater for the sheer fact that it scared me to death because you can't fake theater," says Moore.
The actor began his career as a model and was asked to audition for "The Young and the Restless" after he was spotted in GQ. His background in the fashion world comes in handy in "The Fabric of a Man," in which he plays a design student named Joshua King.
As scary as live theater may have seemed to him, Moore says after his first 15 minutes on stage, "I knew I had the right to be there, and I knew I could do it. From that moment on it made the job fun."
He's already been through at least one trial by fire, however. It happened during the show's first Baltimore engagement, the weekend of the Super Bowl. (One reason it's returning so soon is to make up for a performance that was canceled because of the game; the other performances sold out.)
On what Moore remembers as a disaster-laden night, his microphone went dead in his opening scene. He improvised a reason to go offstage and get a replacement, leaving his co-star, Buddy Lewis, on stage alone. Lewis, who is a comedian, filled in with some stand-up. But when Moore returned, Lewis' mike failed. Suddenly Moore was stranded on stage by himself with no lines to fall back on.
"You talk about deer caught in the headlights," he says. "I'm not a stand-up comedian. I'm sitting there saying what am I going to do?" He spotted a phone on the set, picked up the receiver and invented a conversation. Eventually the technical problems were solved, but he says, "I felt we needed to come out on stage afterwards and apologize to the audience."
Although "The Fabric of a Man" is a gospel show, audiences will not hear Moore raising his voice in song. "My character originally was supposed to sing," he says. "I sat down with David E. Talbert and said, `If you want me to keep any of my fans, you do not want me to sing.' I think that was God's way of keeping me humble. I was not blessed with a singing voice. I make the joke that if I sing in the shower, the water goes cold."
Besides "The Fabric of a Man," "Soul Train" and "The Young and the Restless," next month audiences will be able to see Moore in the feature film "The Brothers," in which he co-stars with Morris Chestnut, Bill Bellamy and D.L. Hughley. It's a movie about "guys being guys," he says. His character is the first in his group to decide to marry - though "he's supposed to be the biggest playboy of them all."
As to any matrimonial plans of his own, Moore says he simply doesn't have time for a serious relationship. "I don't know if there's a woman alive that would deal with being second best to my schedule."
Show times at the Lyric, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave., are 7 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $22-$35. Call 410-481-7328.
Center Stage news
Lisa Kron, whose one-woman show "2.5 Minute Ride" was the final production of the past season at Center Stage, has been awarded a NEA/TCG Theatre Residency to develop a new work at the theater beginning this spring.
Focusing in part on her mother's work as a community organizer - work inspired by a summer spent in a black Baltimore neighborhood during college - the as-yet-untitled piece will be a companion to "2.5 Minute Ride," which concentrated on Kron's relationship with her father.