Local News Archive
Print Issue: December 10, 1998
St. Pius Graduate On Stage Professionally As Scrooge
BY PRISCILLA GREEAR
ATLANTA--Using drama skills he began developing as a student at St. Pius X High School, John McCarthy has made the transition from student to professional actor working in Atlanta theaters and beyond.
The handsome, dark-haired actor is appearing at the Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C., as young Ebenezer Scrooge in the story of the characters redemption, A Christmas Carol, directed by Alliance Theatre Associate Artistic Director David Bell. The play runs until Jan. 3.
McCarthy, who graduated from St. Pius in 1993, already has garnered many roles in various productions. After starting a full-time acting career in August 1997, McCarthy performed in the Georgia Shakespeare Festivals production of Henry IV and Measure for Measure at Oglethorpe University during its summer season program.
In the spring, he performed at local high schools in an adaptation of Taming of the Shrew. He also acted for youth in the Rome-based GMT theaters production of Romeo and Juliet.
More recently, McCarthy played the roles of a witch and servant in Macbeth during October at the 13th annual Georgia Shakespeare Festival at Oglethorpe University.
It has been a wonderful experience to learn and work with other actors at the Shakespeare festival, McCarthy said. He enjoys acting in Shakespearean plays because when youre doing Shakespeare you have this old style of speaking which is very poetical and I like translating that for todays audience.
As a witch in Macbeth, McCarthy said he enjoyed playing an unrestrained, masked creature where he swung his cape, stuck out his tongue and made deep breathing noises as he moved across the stage with the other witches.
In the highly competitive acting field, McCarthy said he maintains a positive attitude when rejected at auditions by always having other work options, and by believing in his ability to find work in Atlanta, ignoring his many skeptics. He added that his most difficult struggle in the past year has been to develop professional confidence by learning to stop worrying and trust himself and his instincts on stage. With A Christmas Carol he will be eligible to join Actors Equity.
While open in the future to movie acting and relocating outside Atlanta professionally, the actor said theater is his passion on which he will focus throughout his career.
What I have a passion for is being up on a stage with 500 people sitting there and never knowing whats gonna happen next--and every performance is different, he said. Whats better than to play for a living.
McCarthy was a drama major for three years at the University of Georgia before studying at the Marymount London Drama Program for a year. At St. Pius, where he played King Arthur in Camelot his senior year, he said he learned through the drama program how to stand on the stage and how to articulate and enunciate to the back row of the theater.
One of the most important things is that everybody hears you and understands you because thats what theyre paying you for--(and) to look like Im supposed to be on the stage as opposed to being nervous about it.
St. Pius drama teacher Bonnie Spark remains confident in McCarthys acting ability.
Ive always had great faith in him, Spark said. From the time he was in eighth grade, I knew this young kid, who with the voracity he displayed, the fierceness and determination, would become an actor...I knew that he could do it, but it was a matter of the process.
Spark has little doubt that McCarthy will eventually make it to the promised land of actors--Broadway.
Even if I have to use a walker to get to Broadway, he will be there and so will I, Spark said.
In addition to his training at St. Pius, McCarthy said he has learned improvisation techniques, movement styles, sword fighting and how to develop characters. McCarthy admitted to once being very self-absorbed, but has learned how to behave more like a true actor by becoming a better person who is more considerate and cooperative with other actors.
McCarthy compared theater to the communal aspect of spirituality.
When you go to church, part of (worship) is being with people in the same room. There is something about people getting together and interacting. You get a sense of community in that little theater for a few hours, he said.
As he develops his acting skills, McCarthy has also begun searching spiritually to establish his faith by developing a prayer life and reading Christian books.
I truly believe that this is my vocation--with the gifts that I was given and the personality that I am, he said. It is the best way that I can serve people and serve God and by doing so serve myself too. I have no ambitions about becoming a movie star. I just want to do the best work that I can in theater.