Good theatre, important theatre, is about truth: recognition and revelation. Alien creatures in alien worlds don’t move us, Willy Loman moves us. George and Lenny move us. We discover that we recognize them – we know them and understand them. We leave the theatre surprised, perhaps, by that connection but certainly affected by it. And, it is hoped, a new conversation will be started. It is why we return to the theatre again and again: recognition and revelation. Connection.
That is the opportunity the theatre gives to me, both as an actor and an audience member. It is that very opportunity that I seek to share with audiences wherever they might be – not merely the season subscribers of my resident theatre in my own hometown, but audiences wherever they are found. And they are found in other people’s hometowns. Gary Neal Johnson
Gary Neal Johnson has been a part of Kansas City’s theater community for nearly 40 years, appearing in more than 180 productions on the city’s professional stages, more than half of those with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre (formerly Missouri Repertory Theatre). He last appeared with KCAT as Piet in A Lesson From Aloes.
Notable roles at the Rep and elsewhere include eleven seasons as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors, Charlie in August: Osage County, Virgil in Bus Stop, Pizarro in The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Gallimard in M. Butterfly, John in Oleanna, Morgan in The Drawer Boy, Gloucester in King Lear, Herr Schultz in Cabaret, Caesar in Julius Caesar, Lear in King Lear, Harry in A Delicate Balance, George in Of Mice and Men, Gloucester in King Lear, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Squeers in Nicholas Nickleby, and Harry Truman in two extended runs of the one-character play, Give ‘Em Hell, Harry.
In San Francisco, Mr. Johnson was honored with a Dean Goodman Award for Supporting Actor for his portrayal of George Booth in the premiere of David Mamet’s adaptation of The Voysey Inheritance at the American Conservatory Theater. Mr. Johnson performed the role of King Lear at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C. as understudy to Stacy Keach.
Elsewhere in Kansas City, he has appeared at Starlight Theatre, American Heartland Theatre, New Theatre Restaurant, Unicorn Theatre and Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. He lives in Overland Park with his wife, Lynne Beachner and sons Drew and Ben.