A 'consummate professional'

Annapolis native sets another star turn in 'The Producers'

August 21, 2008|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,Special to The Sun

For nearly all of the 15 years of the Chesapeake Music Hall, Annapolis native David Bosley-Reynolds was a bedrock of its productions, starring in everything from Little Shop of Horrors to Oklahoma!

Since that venue near the Bay Bridge closed in 2004, Bosley-Reynolds has been flourishing at Toby's Dinner Theatre in Baltimore and Columbia. BroadwayWorld.com voted Bosley-Reynolds the 2007 Actor of the Year, in recognition of his performances in five musicals in 12 months: The Full Monty, Little Shop of Horrors, Titanic the Musical, Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music.

His career is about to get another boost when he plays the challenging but coveted role of larger-than-life Max Bialystock in the Mel Brooks musical The Producers in its regional premiere Aug. 29 through Nov. 23 at Toby's Columbia Dinner Theatre.

"I think David Bosley-Reynolds is brilliant," said owner Toby Orenstein. "He's multitalented, dependable and an asset to the theater."

Born and raised in Annapolis and educated in Anne Arundel County, Bosley-Reynolds said he started acting when he was about 14. He once estimated that it took him eight years to get through Anne Arundel Community College because of his acting career that required him to be away from classes. He also took workshops at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.

Now a resident of Brooklyn, just north of the county line, he recently reminisced about "living only five minutes away from the Annapolis Dinner Theatre, as it was known in 1990 when it opened," and continuing to work there when it became Chesapeake Music Hall in 1995.

"I really liked working as part of the Music Hall crew from 1995 until 2000 and again in 2001 for a couple of shows after the national Annie tour," said Bosley-Reynolds, who played Daddy Warbucks on the 2000 tour. "I spent the whole of 2004 at the Music Hall until it closed. We had a lot of fun and there was a certain warmth from everyone."

Among his favorite roles were Jud Fry in Oklahoma - he said he particularly enjoyed performing the song "Lonely Room" - and Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, where he loved the focus on the English language and the precise diction required.

Sherry Kaye, former Music Hall owner, said from Colorado that she worked with him in I Do! I Do! and Mame, among many other shows.

"David was my rock, a solid performer I could always count on to fill most any shoes," she said. "Almost always my leading man, it was terrific playing opposite him in so many shows."

Cape St. Claire resident Anita O'Connor and frequent music director at CMH, also frequently worked with Bosley-Reynolds.

"David is the consummate professional," she said. "When we did They're Playing Our Song, a two-person musical, if I forgot a line, he could get the play back on track. David was always where he was supposed to be."

Orenstein recognized his talents and cast him in many productions that she also directed, assuring a steady career for Bosley-Reynolds. He starred as Warbucks in Toby's 2001 production of Annie then as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at Toby's Columbia and more recently reprising the role at Toby's Baltimore. He also played a robust Tevye last year in Fiddler on the Roof at Toby's Downtown and later defined The Sound of Music role of Georg Von Trapp as a romantic aristocrat at Toby's Columbia.

Bosley-Reynolds said that he loves working with Orenstein because of her deep knowledge of theater. "She knows theater-in-the-round so well and knows characters so well and focuses on the truth and making certain that the story is being told," he said. "She makes the actors delve into the hearts of the characters and how they evolve during the course of the play."

He called her a mentor, along with Bob Rude of Children's Theater of Annapolis, where he started out in 1980 as the Lion in The Wizard of Oz. He also listed Robert Kauffman, Barbara Marder and Sharie Valerio of Anne Arundel Community College, as well as directors Roland Chambers and Martin Charnin and actor Marvin Hunter.

His award last year was particularly astonishing, considering that Bosley-Reynolds was diagnosed with Stage I non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in July 2006. This strapping 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound, 42-year-old man visits a Columbia-based oncologist regularly for blood tests.

"Every role now is very important to me, he said. "I try to make my characters as human as I can."

In The Producers, he'll play Broadway producer Max Bialystock, who, along with his accountant partner Leo Bloom, sets out to produce a flop so they can cash in. Instead, their show, Springtime for Hitler, ruins their scheme by becoming a hit.

During a rehearsal last week, I saw Larry Munsey as the flamboyant director Roger de Bris, preside over a captivating "Keep It Gay" number, featuring Darren McDonnell as Carmen Ghia. Later, Bosley-Reynolds rehearsed a comical scene with Bloom - his essence neatly captured by Jeffrey Shankle.

Toby's version might well equal what I saw on Broadway twice: the first time starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, after being nominated for a record dozen Tony Awards, and a year later without the mega stars. This show for me remains one of the funniest ever, maybe in part because Brooks throws political correctness to the wind and indiscriminately offends everyone.

Watching Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom should offer plenty of laughs and catchy tunes to savor. It could also be an opportunity to witness Bosley-Reynolds create more magic worthy of another acting award.

The show at Toby's Columbia includes a buffet dinner for under $50. For information, visit www.tobysdinnertheatre.com.

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