Clark Sayre’s One-Man Show and Big Apple Adventure
by D.J. Palladino
Clark Sayre is trucking into the plain Kahuna Burger but he will not touch the fries. “I know it’s ridiculous, but I want to drop at least a couple of pounds before this thing happens,” he laughed. This anticipated “thing” that Sayre — who teaches drama at Dos Pueblos High School — will shed weight for is a one-man show written by, starring, and, in some ways as a benefit for, Clark Sayre himself. Titled Inventures and Life Lessons, the play is a conceptual cabaret evening with stories, and it will play twice at the Dos Pueblos Charger Theater, before moving, a month later, to Dillon’s, a cabaret in Manhattan on 54th Street, “just between Broadway and 8th,” said Sayre, who seems to be smacking his lips over the prospect — if not the french fries.
The show’s music ranges from “Soliloquy” to tunes by Billy Joel and Don Henley. “But people don’t need to be worried about being bored,” said Sayre. “Each of the songs furthers the story, and I even cut two songs I really liked just because they didn’t move it forward. There’s no extraneous material,” he laughed. He’s excited to be working with Shelly Markham, a well-known Broadway composer and arranger. Their collaboration began years ago when a brasher, younger Sayre just rang the musician up to get some coaching early in his musical career. “I just showed up at his house with three boxes of music — I think he was scared.” The two remain friends today.
As if on cue, our al fresco big box luncheon conversation was broken by an effusive former student, Erika Krystean, who took classes from Sayre moons ago. “Remember when you brought that guy in and he played music to the songs we wrote? That was great,” said Krystean, who recently graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA. “She was talking about Shelly Markham,” Sayre said after she left.
Sayre is justifiably proud of his story. Born in Santa Barbara, he attended San Marcos High in the late 1970s, when City College theater professor Rick Mokler assumed directorship of the school’s theater program (which Eric Stoltz, among others, attended), taking over from the legendary Marjorie Luke. Sayre went on to UCLA, and then to Broadway where he played in a variety of off-Broadway projects as well as touring shows. Eventually, Sayre, who describes himself as “a character actor with a legit voice,” returned here to raise a family. He’s taught at DP now for five years, and next year his dream — a new theater for the high school — will open. But Inventures is not just Sayre’s theatrical memoir. “A lot of this is about my dad,” said Sayre. “He was a painter who put aside the things he loved to raise his family. He didn’t start painting again until he was too sick to work.” Although Sayre’s dad died 25 years ago, he is still a driving influence on his son.
“I’m glad you brought me out of my dark office,” said Sayre, for whom the next few weeks will be filled with the joy and angst of mounting a show. The show is a platform, and a benefit, for a year-long sojourn in New York. Sayre and his wife Sharon are taking their kids, Blaine and Kailey, with them to New York, where they will be home schooled, doing units on museums and neighborhoods like Chinatown. Sayre also has auditions set up and hopes to do some serious theater while in N.Y. Mostly, though, he hopes to meet new talent, and to strengthen the connections he uses while teaching advanced drama classes at DP.
Mostly, he’s thrilled. “I’m just a little worried about Blaine and Kailey, who are at such a sweet age now. I don’t want them coming back all New Yorker toughened and jaded. That’s my biggest worry,” he laughed.
4•1•1 Clark Sayre’s one-man show Inventures and Life Lessons will be at Dos Pueblos High Charger Theater, 7266 Alameda Ave., Goleta at 8 p.m. on August 18, 19, 25, and 26