Russell with his make-up artist and co-star, his daughter Elizabeth.
by Russell Pope, Sr.
I don’t know that I can identify a single “hardest” part of these acting jobs that I have loved. It is a great deal of work with the travel from home three times a week and time away from family and chores (though that is not necessarily a bad thing!). It is a huge commitment of time and energy.
However, being on the stage and entertaining the audience is such a fulfilling “reward” that the hard work and time invested is more than worth it. And it is really fun! I have met so many good people and learned so much. Pulling the curtain back on the inside of a production, and working behind the scenes, gives me a much greater appreciation for the shows I have been to see in the past and shows I will see going forward.
One of the best parts of these shows has been the additional time spent with my daughter Elizabeth. We live in Oxford and it is about a 25 – 30 minute drive to the theater. We drive to and from rehearsals and the performances together. We are able to talk during these drives about so much. From school stuff, to her friends, to homework, about life issues, to just silly things. But we have the common experiences that have brought us closer together.
I have always been an active father with our six children and their activities but this experience has been instrumental in expanding our relationship. We both seem to look forward to these drives and times together. They are the highlight of the week oftentimes.
My proudest moment as a dad, relative to working with On Stage, came when we were reading through the script to this show for the first time. Elizabeth got a prominent part in Pageant and had a memorable role in Shrek. She has a much smaller role in Fruitcakes.
There was one role that I, during the first reading, whispered to her that I thought she would have been perfect for. Her response was that she was really glad the girl who was cast in the role got it. When I asked why, she responded that “Well, she had a small role in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and auditioned for Shrek but didn’t get cast. I’m really glad she got a bigger part in this show. I don’t mind the small role. I’m just glad to be in another show with you, Dad.”
That brought a tear to my eyes but is typical for her attitude and caring for others.