Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

How to Succeed in Teaching; Broadway Veteran Takes on Theater Department at Douglas Anderson

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

How to Succeed in Teaching; Broadway Veteran Takes on Theater Department at Douglas Anderson

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

When the time came for Kevin Covert, in his first year as chair of the theater department at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, to direct the school's annual musical, he decided to "do something I'm a little familiar with."

That turned out to be the 1961 musical comedy "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." When it was revived in 2011, with Daniel Radcliffe ("Harry Potter") in the lead role of J. Pierrepont Finch, Covert was a member of the original cast and stayed with the show through two subsequent Finches, Darren Criss and Nick Jonas.

"How to Succeed" was the third Broadway show in which Covert, now 45, has been a member of the original cast during a remarkable run that started in 2005. That was when he opened in "Spamalot," written by Eric Idle and directed by Mike Nichols. In 2009, he took a risk by leaving "Spamalot," which would last two more years on Broadway, to join the cast of "Memphis." He left "Memphis" in 2011 for "How to Succeed." When it closed, he headed south to play Mr. Biggly in a production of "How to Succeed" at his alma mater, Florida State University. In addition to performing at FSU, Covert did some teaching and discovered he really enjoyed it.

What he liked about being among students was that they had "all of the hope but none of the cynicism" he had known in New York.

A working actor since he was in his early 20s - he was cast in his first national tour, "Grand Hotel," during a trip to New York while still enrolled in the master's program at FSU - Covert began to explore the question of whether teaching was a career choice he wanted to pursue.

"Broadway is the brass ring," he said. "You need luck combined with talent."

But he'd grasped the brass ring, done three successful Broadway musicals and, though it was a love of dance that had gotten him interested in theater in the first place, he was beginning to feel his age. People he trusted, including his mother and his agent, told him that since he was a character actor, he could walk away for a while without damaging his chances of landing a role in the future.

CHANGE OF CAREERS

So Covert, who had been doing workshops at many high schools, including Douglas Anderson, began seriously considering a teaching career. …

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