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'Rich and Famous' explains drive for acclaim

Oct. 27, 2000

By NAT NEALEIGH

Reporter

Waco Civic Theater will present Rich and Famous, a play by John Guare, at 7:30 p.m. today. Rich and Famous is the theater's second show of the season following last month's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

The play is about Bing Ringling, played by Plano senior Michael Turner, a playwright who is about to have his first play produced off-Broadway.

Unfortunately, Ringling's producer, having had a string of successes, has only chosen to produce his play because she is looking for a flop so she can savor the sweet taste of failure and then make a comeback.

The plot follows Ringling as he vainly attempts to make his play successful, eventually striving to become rich and famous.

Throughout the course of events, however, Ringling is forced to confront different aspects of his own personality and come to terms with what will truly bring him happiness.

Although Ringling encounters a range of characters throughout the show, the play is performed with only a three-person cast. Chris Borland and Teresa Cook portray all of the male and female characters that come into contact with him.

'Basically the show is about [Ringling's] struggle,' Turner said. 'It's about him trying to find himself, and along the way, he's trying to deal with this idea he has of being rich and famous and the pressures put on him by those dreams.'

Scott Hargrove, executive director for Waco Civic Theater, said Rich and Famous is unlike anything the theater has done in the past.

'It's something completely new and different for Waco and Baylor. You would definitely not see a play like this in Baylor theater, and this type of play hasn't really been a part of Waco Civic until now,' Hargrove said.

'It's definitely an abstract show, not realism,' Turner said. 'It's definitely a thinking man's show. If you're in the mood to go see one of those shows where you just clock off and zone out for an hour, this isn't your show. I think college students will really like it because it invites people to think about things and challenges them.'

After five-and-a-half weeks of rehearsal, Turner said he identifies with his character in several ways.

'At first I really had to struggle because a lot of who he is isn't on the surface. As an actor, I've always had these dreams of being rich and famous, too. I can relate to his struggles and his desires to be rich and famous and to fulfill everyone else's dreams for them,' Turner said.

In fact, Turner said, he believes Ringling's situation has something for everyone.

'It sort of relates to everybody; [it's] how everybody has these great ideas of being rich and famous and ... the pressure we put on ourselves to fill this big dream we have,' Turner said. 'I think everyone can relate to that feeling of things just not turning out exactly the way you wanted them to.'

Waco Civic Theater is located at 1517 Lake Air Drive and will run Rich and Famous on Oct. 27, 28 and 29 and on Nov. 2, 3 and 4.

Tickets are $12 and can be reserved at the theater box office by calling 776-1591.