David Hyde Pierce on his years at the Guthrie

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Actor David Hyde Pierce

If you were out enjoying the great hot and humid outdoors yesterday, chances are you missed Midday’s noon hour, which would be a real shame.

It featured a recent conversation between Guthrie Theater Artistic Director Joe Dowling and former Guthrie actor David Hyde Pierce, who went on to great acclaim for his portrayal of Dr. Nile Crane on the sit-com “Frasier.”

Pierce shared some great moments from back in the mid-80s when he was on the old Guthrie thrust stage in such shows as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Seagull,” under the direction of the rather strong-minded Romanian Lucian Pintilie.

One of the advantages of this sort of authoritarian, Romanian directorial style is you didn’t have a lot of choice about what you were going to do, and I was probably pushed or allowed to do a more experienced performance than I was actually capable of giving because I was fulfilling Lucian’s vision of the play.

It was a four act play and we started with the fourth act – in the production. So when the audience came in, somewhere in the middle of the fourth act, with no explanation – that’s where we started. And we went to the end of the play and then we started back at the beginning and went through again. And there were reasons for it, but that too was a really cool thing as a young actor to think “oh wow – you can take a classic play and just ruin it, if you have a good reason.”

Also, I remember I loved the Guthrie audience because at one point we’d got to the end and we were doing our curtain call, and some very old man in the audience screamed out “Where’s Chekhov?!” So people were very passionate about how it should and shouldn’t be done.

Pierce goes on to recall a tech rehearsal for “The Seagull” that involved an oil-based fog on a steel set that sent him and the woman playing Nina flying across the stage.

You can hear more about his days at the Guthrie, as well as much about his time on “Fraser” and then in the Monty Python musical “Spamalot” by clicking on the audio link below.

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