Robert Winstead directs Lionheart Theatre's upcoming production of Murder at Weatherfield, playing October 18-21 in Downtown Norcross.
Mr. Winstead is an actor, musician and magician. Past roles include Matt in Looking, Greg in Sylvia (which he also directed), Frank in Foreclosure, Booth in Assassins, Gordon in Laughing Stock, Elwood in Harvey, Don in Blind Date, Frank in The Country Girl, The Stage Manager in Our Town, Axel in The Nerd, Dirk in Mary, Mary, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Martin in You Can’t Take it With You, and many others. His music may be heard at moxybarracuda.bandcamp.com. He has performed two full evening magic shows at Lionheart Theatre as well as many venues in the Southeast. He is a member of the I.B.M. He has won Emmy's for his work as a journalist with CNN and freelances when he isn’t teaching video production to high school students.
Lionheart Theatre recently sat down with Mr. Winstead to discuss Murder at Weatherfield and to find out how rehearsals have been going.
Tell us a little about your background in theatre and how you were first introduced to Lionheart Theatre.
“I did some acting in elementary school, and it brought me some TV work. I continued working in the theatre in high school where I was introduced to the Stanislavski trilogy. In college I got involved with a startup experimental theatre company at FSU and studied theatre there, doing some directing as well as acting. The company still exists but has morphed into a children’s theatre group, The Moving Company.
I was heavily involved with music, so I didn’t do much acting until a friend bowed out of a show and asked me to step in. I did a few roles for that theatre group, which introduced me to other groups, and then my friend, Mria, asked me to fill in for a role for her theatre group, The Underground Theatre. There I worked with acclaimed director, Dante Santacroce, for a number of years and portrayed a bunch of amazing roles. That theatre closed its doors with Harvey where I got to play Elwood P. Dowd. Then a few months later a group in Tucker opened their doors with Harvey, and they asked me to reprise Elwood. A lovely lady in that show convinced me to audition for an upcoming Lionheart production. I got the role of Gordon in Laughing Stock, and I loved working with Tanya and the cast. I also performed in some of Lionheart's popular Lawless Spirits Tours, as well as some other roles."
What attracted you to the Murder at Weatherfield script?
"It is very offbeat yet very funny. I guess that’s why Tanya asked me to direct it knowing I have an offbeat sense of humor. I laughed a lot reading the play yet was surprised at all the reveals.
I also saw it as a challenge. I tend to gravitate towards more gritty, realistic, heavy, dark plays. While Murder at Weatherfield has quite a lot of dark humor in it, it is more stylistic than what I’m used to doing, so I was thinking it might be fun to stretch."
Murder at Weatherfield is a fairly new play by Joe Starzyk. Can you describe the show to those who may not be familiar with it?
“Murder at Weatherfield is a British Manor comedy with a good portion of 'whodunit' Agatha Christie thrown in. We’ve tried to infuse a little gothic romance into it since we open in October. It is also a family drama with all the craziness of sibling rivalries, petty jealousies and wanton greed that abound when the wealth of the patriarch is about to be divided up by a will. When the monetary stakes are this high, murder and mayhem may follow."
This show is recommended for adults only. Can you elaborate?
"It is not a show appropriate for all ages, because there are the inevitable 'liaisons,' shall we say, but always in a polite British manner (or manor?). Some of the situations are a bit adult, but nothing crude and no nudity."
How have rehearsals been going?
"The rehearsal process has been so much fun. We have a great cast who go all out for their parts and play their roles to the hilt. There is a lot of laughter during the rehearsals, and I hope our audiences enjoy these amazing actors as much as I’ve enjoyed working with them. We started workshopping small scenes and nuancing them which have really given the actors a chance to experiment and explore their roles. Now we are stitching it all together, so hopefully when we open, audiences will have a laugh at all the foibles of this dysfunctional family and have a wonderful time at the theatre as well."
What have you enjoyed most about working with Lionheart?
“The amazing thing about the Lionheart Theatre Company is that Tanya Caldwell has culled together such a family of talented artists, people who enjoy working with each other and end up building off of those relationships to support and encourage each other’s shows. It is so nice to see the great work of shows that I’m not in and have those talented folks encourage me and the shows I am involved with. I have met so many interesting and fun people at Lionheart. I treasure the relationships I have enjoyed with these gifted artists. Tanya has also encouraged my magic shows, and we’ve done two full evenings of magic at Lionheart."
Don't miss Robert Winstead's direction in Lionheart Theatre's Murder at Weatherfield, playing October 18-21 in Downtown Norcross. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. Please visit http://bit.ly/2Mp7eyF for tickets and more information.