Each spring American university theater programs, high schools of performing arts, professional acting academies and private studios, churn out hundreds, nay, thousands of theatrical hopefuls destined for greatness. Armed with sundry degrees and picture resumes, less than one percent of the wistful-eyed wannabes can ever hope to rub elbows with Mel Gibson or Meryl Streep. In Big Kiss: One Actor’s Desperate Attempt to Claw His Way to the Top, satire writer Henry Alford relates the tale of his own quest to buck the odds and break into the big time. The result is a refreshing change from the maudlin stickiness of typical “Stage Door Johnnie” tales and a hilarious journey through thespian Hell.
At age thirty-four, Alford experiences a rather curious form of premature male menopause. Realizing that his successful writing career feels stale and joyless (and he’s no slouch in this department, having been a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, a staff writer at Spy, and published in New York, Vogue, and The Village Voice, among reputable others), he decides to throw himself headlong into pursuing a life in the theater to jumpstart his joie de vivre.
Despite having a self-admittedly stellar high school performance in Oklahoma! under his belt (he had one line), Alford concedes he needs some serious actor training, so it’s off to a summer at London’s Royal Academy...
(The entire section is 427 words.)