San Marcos High School performing arts students welcomed a special guest to their stage. Tab Hunter was in the auditorium last Thursday sharing his experience and wisdom with the cast and crew of the upcoming production of Damn Yankees, which runs May 4, 5, 6, and May 11, 12, 13 at 7:00 pm at San Marcos High School. Mr. Hunter is the star of the 1958 movie made from the Tony-award winning play of the same name. Speaking about the movie, Mr. Hunter said that while he loved working with everyone in the cast, which included Gwen Verdon and Jean Stapleton, the fact that George Abbott, one of the directors of the film, had wanted to cast the actor who played the starring role on Broadway, rather than him, made filming somewhat challenging. Mr. Hunter went on to say that one thing he loved about Damn Yankees is that “It’s so guileless. We need that in this day and age. We need to lift spirits, and this show does that.”
Students had the opportunity to ask Mr. Hunter questions on a range of topics from how he got started on his career –“I was discovered mucking out stables”– to what it was like to be under contract to Warner Bros. –“Good and bad. If they had appropriate material for you, it was good. If not, it wasn’t.” Along the way, they were treated to asides about some of the famous stars he worked with: “The good [about working in the contract system] was working with Natalie Wood. I loved Natalie – she was like my kid sister.” And “Fred Astaire had something we don’t see too much of nowadays — style. There was a simplicity about Fred that was beautiful – in his dancing, his singing, and his acting.” How Mr. Hunter dealt with being a celebrity during his time as a major heartthrob also came up. During those early years, he got thousands of fan letters, most of which were dealt with by a third party, but Mr. Hunter did say “I was very appreciative of it, but you can’t live on that alone. That’s like living on hot fudge sundaes, and don’t get me wrong, I love a hot fudge sundae, but you can’t have it morning, noon and night.” He went on to make a broader comment about Hollywood celebrity saying “That’s how the industry can dilute you physically, mentally, and spiritually.”
When asked what one piece of advice he had for actors, Mr. Hunter recounted that while filming a scene with Sophia Loren in the movie That Kind of Woman, the director, Sidney Lumet said, “’You’re playing it safe. If you play it safe, it’s the dullest thing you can do. You might as well stay in bed all day.’ That stuck with me,” he said, and then, looking straight at the students, he added, “Don’t be afraid to take it to the next step and go for it.”
Cast members then had the opportunity to perform a number from the upcoming show for Mr. Hunter, who was clearly delighted.
The student audience will surely incorporate his inspiring advice into their performances this May.
Tickets will be for sale at the door before each show and in advance at the San Marcos website. http://shopsmroyals.org