Performing live nothing new for 'Soul Man' actor John Beasley

The Fresno BeeMarch 24, 2014 

There will be one actor ready in case something happens on the live broadcast of the season premiere of "The Soul Man": John Beasley, who has spent years working in front of live audiences on stages across the country. Beasley even has established the John Beasley Theater and Workshop in Omaha.

He is excited to perform on the sitcom live.

"I am always looking for a challenge like that," Beasley says before rushing off to one of the extra rehearsals the cast has been going through to prepare for the live telecast. "I think it will be a piece of cake. As for the rest of the cast, I'm not sensing any nervousness. There's just a real excitement in the air."

The live telecast (tape recorded for the West Coast) of "The Soul Man" will follow a live version of the season opener of "Hot in Cleveland." This is the second season in a row that "Hot in Cleveland" has opened with a live telecast.

The link between the shows goes way back — "The Soul Man" is a spin-off of "Hot in Cleveland." It stars Cedric The Entertainer as Rev. Boyce Ballentine, a character that originated as Elka Ostrovsky's (Betty White, "Hot in Cleveland") pastor. Their characters will again cross over into each other's worlds during the live shows.

In the episode, Boyce heads up his church fundraiser for the summer youth program, which he thinks is the perfect reason to get his band back together. His wife, Lolli (Niecy Nash), is in charge of getting Boyce's back-up dancers back in shape, but one of the dancers (special guest star Brandy) is doing a terrible job trying to hide a secret.

Beasley, 70, plays Boyce's father, a pastor who was replaced by his son. Before joining up with the cable comedy, Beasley was best known for playing Irv Harper on the TV series "Everwood" and for recurring roles on "CSI," "Millennium" and "The Pretender." His movie credits include "The Apostle," "The Mighty Ducks" and "Walking Tall."

His professional acting career didn't start until he was in his mid-40s. He did some acting in high school and college but after graduation went the more traditional career route of raising a family while he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. The acting bug never went away.

"At 45, I told my wife that I have to give it a shot and asked her if she could hold down the fort for three weeks. I went to Minneapolis where I got work right away," Beasley says.

That three weeks turned into a new career that has not slowed. When he's not working on the series or a movie, Beasley heads back to his theater.

In all the time that he has been working on stage, Beasley never has seen any major disasters during the live performances. The closest was when an actor just didn't show up for a production.

"There was one actor who knew we had a show on Sunday but went to see his girlfriend and got stuck in a snowstorm in Kansas," Beasley says. "I told him I would never work with him again but there was a play that came up he really wanted to do. He promised that he would not miss a show ever again. I gave him one more chance and he became one of our star performers."

Show info

"The Soul Man": 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on TV Land.


TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, or @RickBentley1 on Twitter.

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