We are proud to present George Paris the Volunteer Spotlight Award
If you ask him, and even if you don’t ask him, George Paris will tell you that theater is his life.
At the age of four, he entertained his family with impressions of Jimmy Durante, and his first role in a play was The Mad Hatter in his second grade class’s production of Alice in Wonderland. The rest, as they say, is history. As an adult, George was encouraged to audition for a role in South Pacific, which a friend was directing for the Pleasant Valley Players. He was cast as Luther Billis. This led to a long career in Connecticut’s northwest corner. In addition to the Pleasant Valley Players, George has performed or directed for the Goshen Players, Summertime Players, Canton Benefit Band Parents, Region 7, Warner Theatre and Warner Studio Theatre, Thomaston Opera House and Studio Theatre and the Torrington Civic Theatre. He was with the latter group for 23 years, until they disbanded. George managed the Warner Studio Theatre for several years along with Don Lovely, as well as the Thomaston Arts Center for 4 years. He has never been associated with theater groups in his hometown of New Britain. He says, “I went out of town and stayed out of town.”
Some of George’s favorite acting roles include Luther Billis, the Cowardly Lion and Charlemagne. In 2008 he performed the role of Nagg from inside a garbage can in Samuel Beckett’s End Game (at the Thomaston Opera House Arts Center). He appreciated the director’s taking a chance on casting him in a dramatic role with many lines to learn. Recently, you may have seen him on the Opera House stage in Young Frankenstein (2013) or The Thrill of It All (2014). Primarily a comedic actor, George lists Burt Lahr, Ed Wynn and Red Skelton as his idols. He describes them as “clean comics,” who prove that one doesn’t have to be vulgar to be funny. George moved into directing with The Fantastiks for the Canton Benefit Band Parents. He was the very first to direct Peter Pan at the Warner Theatre. Damn Yankees, in 1998, was one of the first shows that George directed at the Thomaston Opera House. At that time, Leo Sochocki, who managed the theater, directed whole seasons with the exception of the summer show. He only allowed George and Don Lovely to direct in his place. George cites among his favorite directing experiences Godspell, Two By Two, A Few Good Men and Always, Patsy Cline, the latter two being performed at the Thomaston Opera House.
Now in his eighties, George can still be found in the theater, whether onstage, in the audience or running the elevator. Be sure to say “Hello” the next time that you see him.
~Conducted & Written by Donna Storms