(Beaver Dam) David Alan Smith recently retired from a successful career in Hollywood but says he never would have made it without his time at the Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre.
“I think the professionals I worked with appreciative of the fact that I knew how to learn my lines and hit my mark and face the camera and be consistent in the things that I was doing and that all came from my training so thank you BDACT,” he says.
In particular, Smith credits the opportunities he had as a child in the community theatre’s Tell-A-Tale youth troupe.
“A summer back in the early 1970s – we’ll go in the way back machine – I was just a kid and my elementary school teacher is the one who said ‘you should go and audition for this play with the community theatre’,” he reminisced, “and I was lucky enough to get a part in that show, it was Oliver, and that introduced me to a whole world of amazing people.”
After receiving his theatre degree from the University of Minnesota, Smith took what he learned in Beaver Dam to community and professional theatres across the country before heading to Hollywood.
“I worked at the Wausau Community Theatre, got to perform at the Grand Theatre, which is a very large old Vaudeville building that was wonderful,” he recalled, “I got to work with professional theatres in Minneapolis and even though people were getting paid to do the job the spirit was the same because they all came from a community theatre base.”
Once in Hollywood, Smith built his resume on television shows like Sons of Anarchy, Jake In Progress and The Kids Are Alright. In the 1996 movie Feeling Minnesota, he played a detective; his partner was none other than Keanu Reeves, and the list goes on.
“I could name drop I guess,” he quipped, “Dan Ackroyd and Cameron Diaz and John Stamos and Tracy Morgan and a whole lot of other people I even got to do an episode of a sitcom where my co-star was Snoop Dog so that was fun.”
After retiring from his decades-long acting career, Smith came back home to Beaver Dam with his wife. Not long after settling in, word came that the community theatre was looking for a new managing director. He got the part.
“The community has been so generous and so many people over the last dozen years on making this facility into such a beautiful place to see a concert, or a show or just to come and volunteer and be part of the excitement,” he says.
Now Smith is excited about sharing his passion with local actors and future generations.
“I want to just really branch out education not just for children but for people of all ages,” he says, “and there are so many things in theatre that will help you with other parts of your life. I would also like to get the volunteer base to grow, we have lots of volunteers, but we always need more.”
There are plenty of opportunities in community theatre, and Smith notes they are not exclusive to performing on stage.
“From the box office to costuming and props to set building and painting, to ushering,” he says, “we have volunteers who work backstage during a show and move scenery around, we have pretty much something for everybody.”
Smith says not every community is blessed with a community theatre.
“It’s a vital part of the community and it’s a major undertaking, its expensive to create and it requires a lot of people, a lot of volunteers and a lot of donations and a lot of communities they don’t have the people or the resources to do that, which is why I am so proud of this community and what they accomplished.”
Smith took what he learned in Beaver Dam and applied it to a successful career in Hollywood. Now he has an opportunity to take what he learned in Hollywood and share it with Beaver Dam.
“I had a great experience with Dan Ackroyd at one point where he went around and shook hands with and talked to everybody on the crew on this film, it took quite a while there were a lot of people there,” he explained, “and when we got back together to do our scene I said ‘well that was very nice you didn’t have to do that’ and he said ‘oh no I did, those people are my bosses’ and just his attitude that the people who watch the movies, the people who pay to see him perform are the people that he respects and he is beholden to, I thought that was very nice.”