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A Father’s Lesson in Living Creatively

Inventures and Life Lessons, written, directed, and
starring Clark Sayre. At the Dos Pueblos High Charger Theater,
Saturday, August 19. Also shows August 25 and 26.

Reviewed by Bojana Hill

Sayre12.jpg“It’s never too late to become what you
already are,” said George Eliot, who was 40 when Middlemarch was
published. Dos Pueblos High School drama teacher Clark Sayre is 46,
and he is taking his new one-man show, Inventures and Life Lessons,
to Broadway in pursuit of a dream. On Saturday night, Sayre’s
dynamic show-and-tell performance, in which he reminisced and sang
Broadway hits, revealed talent and energy.

The audience in the Dos Pueblos Charger Theater responded warmly
and enthusiastically to this endearing, touching, and humorous
tribute to Sayre’s father, who still exerts a deep influence on his
son. The influence of Sayre’s father begins with the title.
Inventures is a word Robert Ellwood Sayre coined from combining
“adventures” and “inventions,” a hint at Sayre’s late father’s
playful spirit. With the image of his father’s gentle, smiling face
projected behind him, Sayre described his dad as an artist, for
whom family came first. A painter-reluctantly-turned-businessman,
Robert Sayre became devoted to his art only at the close of his
life.

During one scene, Sayre moved toward a dimly illumined
“dilapidated shack” at the corner of the stage to suggest a place
where his father was painting. “These were the happiest days of his
life,” recollected Sayre, “despite his illness, he was glowing.”
And Sayre never forgot his father’s lesson in living creatively
(although at the time, like most adolescents, he only thought of
girls).

Often when artistic talent is inherited, it manifests in a
different field. The father used paint and brushes, and Clark Sayre
uses his beautiful voice. The show opens with an old family
recording of a spunky 5-year-old Clark Sayre singing, “Do-Re-Mi.”
Sayre goes on to sing 16 more songs over the course of the evening,
each selected to express the emotion of a memorable moment. “The
Girl I Love” and “You’re My Home” are both sung tenderly in honor
of his wife Sharon.

Seated on a piano, high above the audience, Sayre exudes the
infectious optimism of a man in love. Indeed, love for his
family — the kind that inspires work — permeates the show. Still,
Sayre admits that he felt trapped as a non-performing drama
teacher. With Sondheim’s refrain, “Be careful with the things you
say, [children] will listen,” Sayre underscores just how meaningful
that job is to him, but the passion to perform is a call he cannot
resist. Perhaps this time, as he follows his father’s teaching,
Sayre is fulfilling his father’s longings, too.

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