Dagsboro resident Andy Stasny is truly one in a million. A retired pharmacist, computer specialist and Navy veteran, he now focuses his free time on theater, and he said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
For the Pittsburgh native, theater performance had always been a true calling. Tracing his start back to theater class in high school, and even reciting a poem on stage in the fourth grade, he had enjoyed acting at a very young age.
After serving in the Navy, he pursued his talent with the College Players at Duquesne University in Pennsylvania. Stasny then took a 35-year hiatus from theater to work multiple jobs and raise his family with wife of 48 years, Marianne.
The time away from stage seemed to simply strengthen his performance, though, as opportunities are flocking his way. The community theaters in the area, he said, have been the drive behind some peoples’ choices to move to the area. He retired to his Dagsboro home in 1999, in an area that used to be a vacation spot in the summertime, even before he knew of the theatrical opportunities in the community.
“It was all a happy accident,” he said. “I’m really fortunate to have found the theater here.”
Among some of his recent work at Milton Theater are “The Marriage Proposal” and “Mixed Emotions,” part of the theater’s production of “Evening of One Acts,” as well as “The Importance of Being Ernest,” and just this past winter, “The Drunkard.” Stasny is also an active member with the “Ad Hoc Touring Company” of Possum Point Players, based in Georgetown, with whom he began performing locally.
Stasny said he feels quite at-home with everyone he works with. “I really like the theater group,” he said. “Everyone gets along well, and everyone’s very unpretentious. Nobody has anything to prove to anyone else.” This natural love for theater has welcomed Stasny and he said he fits right in here.
He stars in this month’s performance of Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys,” a comedy that follows the falling-out of vaudevillian partners Willy Clark, played by Stasny, and Al Lewis, played by Gary Ramage. “The Sunshine Boys” is the first Milton Theater production of 2007 and already is drawing in a satisfying crowd since its debut last weekend.
Stasny, who noted that he really enjoys comedies, said the role is exactly what he had been searching for since his return to the stage.
“Lots of laughs,” he said. “There’s nothing like laughter and applause. It really gets a fantastic reaction out of the audience.”
The play is a change from the dramas and melodramas Stasny has previously performed.
“I love to do drama, too,” he said, “but I hate to watch them. Comedies are always entertaining.”
He added that he would not typically try for a role as quickly as he did, having just worked in “The Drunkard” this past December. “This is, especially at my age,” he said, “a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I’m glad I took it.”
Esther Friend, who directs the play, first noticed Stasny in the Ad Hoc group, and had cast him for several performances. Several directors took note of this former actor’s return, and, before long, he was getting offers for many roles. “Once I broke back into one,” Stasny said, “it was easy to find more work.”
He said he’s happy to see a revival in today’s world with the Milton Theater, not only with frequent productions, but with community involvement, as the building hosts town meetings, as well. Today, the theater shows movies, as well as plays, providing patrons with the very seats that once adorned the Smyrna Opera House.
Though retired, Stasny said theater is something he sees himself pursuing as often as he can.
“I’ll keep performing theater as long as I can stand on a stage,” he said, “and as long as they can find parts for an old man.
Tickets are still available for performances this weekend, March 16, 17 and 18. Friday and Saturday shows will start at 7 p.m., and the Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $15, or $12 for seniors (55 or older) and students (younger than 18), in advance, and $18, or $15 for seniors and students, at the door.