by Jim Reyland
When I called David Compton last year to talk about directing my new play STAND for Writer’s Stage, I’m not sure how he got to his cell phone. I’m pretty sure he was working in hundred-degree heat, wearing a protective suit in someone’s attic. He’s an actor after all, and actors survive doing whatever they can do between roles.
David Compton, a child of the ’60s, is the youngest of four children, his mom a nurse and activ
e in community theatre, his dad a businessman. “Growing up in Badin, North Carolina, was like Mayberry. Still to this day there is no stoplight.” David graduated from North Stanly High School, was the drum major, voted most school spirited, and then worked as a projectionist before graduating from UNC-Greensboro with a BFA in acting. David moved to Nashville in the ’80s and was a resident actor at Nashville Children’s Theatre while he worked as a bartender, waiter, dishwasher, painter, plumber, carpenter, and grass cutter, which brings us back to the attic. “I gave up acting to be an ‘adult’ and was a high school drama teacher for eight years . . . It practically killed me.”
Since re-entering the performance world, David has accumulated an impressive list of starring rolls with Tennessee Rep and other theatres in town including Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and Blackbird Theatre. You’ve seen him on the Rep stage in A Christmas Story (three years running now), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, To Kill a Mockingbird, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Superior Donuts, where he and Brian Russell staged possibly the best fight scene ever endured on a Nashville stage, expertly choreographed by Eric Pasto-Crosby. David has also collected hardware as Best Actor, Tennessean Toast of Music City Awards (2012), Best Ensemble for Superior Donuts, Nashville Scene Best of Nashville (2012), and Best Actor, Nashville Scene Best of Nashville (2011).
This Valentines Day we’re all invited to the Kit Kat Klub as emcee David Compton leads an all-star cast in the Tennessee Rep’s production of Cabaret. “I didn’t see myself in the role at first because of my age, and it is way out of my comfort zone . . . which makes playing the role a good thing because I love challenges and growth as an actor.” Joining David is Jenny Littleton as Sally, along with Mike Baum, Vanessa Callahan, Ruth Cordell, Marin Miller, B.J. Rowell, Patrick Waller, Derek Whittaker, and Martha Wilkinson. Cabaret is directed by René D. Copeland, co-directed by Martha Wilkinson, musically directed by Paul Carrol Binkley, and choreographed by Pam Atha.
It is dedication to the craft that makes an artist special. It was a wonderful experience working with David on STAND. His versatility is amazing. He’ll create your character, direct your play, build your set, and sweep up. I encourage you to attend Tennessee Rep’s production of Cabaret and find out if David can dance too.
Cats In Concert runs February 20–24 for six performances only. Tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for students and seniors. For specific show information and to purchase tickets, visit www.streettheatrecompany.org. Performances are at Street Theatre, 1933 Elm Hill Pike, just off Briley Parkway. For more information, call 615-554-7414.