BWW Interview: Darick Pead: The Struggle, the Journey, the Narrative

BWW Interview: Darick Pead: The Struggle, the Journey, the Narrative

"I love telling stories; it doesn't matter what the form is. I like the struggle, the journey, the narrative," says actor Darick Pead. Pead, who is about to open in Maine State Music Theatre's Beauty and the Beast in the title role of the Beast, has enjoyed a fascinating personal journey of his own in pursuing his dream of becoming an actor.

Born and raised in Utah in a large Mormon family - he was the seventh child among ten - Pead says, "Except for doing my Mormon mission in Pennsylvania for two years, I had never been outside the state of Utah until I was twenty-seven." Pead remembers that "I always enjoyed theatre, and I would go to watch my older siblings in school plays and think what fun that must be. Then in fifth grade my teacher suggested that I should try out for Wizard of Oz. I wanted to play Toto and get to bark onstage, and I was super disappointed when I was cast as the Scarecrow . But that was the start of it all."

Pead served his Mormon missionary duty when he was nineteen, and he remembers returning home thinking he would become a radiologist. He enrolled at Brigham Young University in pre-med classes, but he continued to take acting classes on the side. He began to grapple with the question of his vocation. "I kept going back and forth between medicine and acting. Finally, I asked myself 'If you become an actor, will you wish you had been a doctor instead?' and I knew the answer to that was 'no.' But when I asked myself the opposite question, 'Would you regret not being an actor if you became a doctor?' and the answer was a resounding 'yes,' I knew I had made my decision."

I switched majors at BYU and studied theatre, taking voice lessons on the side, and performing throughout Utah as frequently as he could in venues such as the Hale Center. He first came to New York City with BYU's New York showcase, and he auditioned for the Shrek The Musical. He recalls singing and being asked to come back for a dance call. "I didn't have any dance clothes with me, so I ran to a next door store and bought something to dance in. I was cast as Shrek's understudy and Lord Farquaad."

As auspicious as that debut might have seemed, Pead's second NYC audition yielded yet another prized role. "Networks Presentations who were doing Shrek were also casting Beauty and the Beast for the national tour. I asked to audition and came in and sang 'If I Can't Love Her.' They asked me to do it again, and starting giving me some direction. I sang it for them three times and read a scene. When I was finished, the director told me 'That was great and we want you to know that if we had the part, we would give it to you, but we don't.' I told them I was honored to have auditioned for them. I went home and the next day I got the call. For the next three years I played the Beast on national and then international tour. " Pead's travels have taken him to forty-eight of the fifty continental United States and cities as far flung as Istanbul, Trieste, Milan, Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Jakarta, and Macaw. And not only did he get to enjoy this global adventure while playing the Beast, but he managed to fall in love with his Belle, Hilary Maiberger. The two remain a couple, and like his current co-star, Lexi Rabadi who also met her partner while playing Belle, Pead concedes "Beauty and the Beast is such a good love story that it has the power to bring couples together."

BWW Interview: Darick Pead: The Struggle, the Journey, the NarrativeAfter playing the Beast for over 1000 performances on tour, Pead now finds himself in a new production at MSMT, and he says he is excited to be finding fresh insights with co-directors/choreographers Marc Robin and Curt Dale Clark. "Marc is a remarkable human being and a brilliant director. He brings so much honesty and humanity to the show, and he has taught me some really cool lessons in music and storytelling. I have already gleaned so much from him in just one week! And now working with Curt Dale Clark, who has been an acclaimed Beast himself and who also has a great vision for the show, makes me feel as if I have a lot to live up to."

Pead says he likes to approach a production by putting a great deal of trust in the directors. "They are the ones who see the big picture. I also trust my fellow actors. Lexi [Rabadi] is an amazing Belle, and she is bringing out something different in my Beast." Pead imagines his own backstory for the Prince turned Beast: "He has been a prince who had always gotten everything he wanted. But after becoming a beast, he has to work to obtain what he wants. He has to undertake a journey that will transform him. I like to think of it in terms of that thought from The Fantastiks that 'we all must die a little before we grow again.' As a prince, he had no friction in his life to help him grow."

Asked how he sees the arc of his character's journey, Pead cites a few crucial moments in the show. "His transformation starts when he tells her to come to dinner, and she refuses. He realizes people have agency; they can choose. But when he sees another rose petal fall, he decides to try again because he knows there are lives hanging on this. Then there comes the moment when he saves her from the wolves, and after that everything spirals very fast." Pead thinks the message in the Beast's transformation is timeless. "In the story you have a mob of people who would destroy him because he is different. Only Belle chooses not to judge and to look inside to see who he really is. We all need to work harder to try to understand one another better."

Among the other challenges of playing the role, Pead notes the physical requirements - "My legs get a little tired because I am hunched over" - and he says that because he is 5'11', "I have to project powerfulness in a way other than imposing size." But the most daunting aspect of the role is the costume; "It is like wearing a snowsuit in summer!"

But these are all small considerations in comparison to the fulfillment Darick Pead feels in his profession. He looks forward to meeting the Brunswick public for the first time. " I really like this town; it seems like the quintessential American small town, somewhere I have been yearning to find all my life." And he is excited to perform Beauty and the Beast for a live audience.

"What is so amazing about theatre is that it requires both the actors and the audience to be active. We are all taking advantage of being in the same space at the same time and having the opportunity to create something special. That show is never going to happen again. You get to see something unique each day."

Photographs courtesy MSMT, BATB photo, Roger Duncan, photographer

Beauty and the Beast plays at MSMT's Pickard Theater, 1 Bath Rd., Brunswick, ME, from June 27 - July 14, 2018 207-725-8769

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From This Author Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold