And now, playing the role of Mr. Smith, here he is:
It is an interesting fact, if not quite distinctive enough to merit an entire advance story, to note that Fresno veterinarian Patrick Smith plays the patriarch role of Mr. Smith in the new Good Company Players production of “Meet Me in St. Louis,” opening Thursday, Oct. 29, at the 2nd Space Theatre.
But the good doctor isn’t the only Smith in his family in this production set in the years leading up to the famous 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. There are six Smiths involved in all, including two cats.
That’s a lot of Smiths.
We caught up with Patrick Smith to find out more about this family affair.
Q: Tell us briefly about each member of your family (human and cat) who are in the show and what roles they play.
A: The youngest family members in the show are cats Spencer, a 5-month old Russian Blue mix (gray) male domestic shorthaired cat from the Tower District, playing “Lady Babbie.” Chloe is a 4-month-old gray and white female domestic shorthaired cat from Clovis, who is understudy for “Lady Babbie.”
Glory Joy, 10 (we call her Joy), plays Tootie, a precocious, naive, gullible, imaginative 8-year old with a morbid, macabre fascination with blood, dying, and death. Anna, 13, plays Agnes, a girl of about the same age, who is cunning, conniving, adventurous and tends to be contrary to her older sisters Esther and Rose.
My oldest son, Michael, 21, plays Fred Gregory, a good looking, proper, well mannered boy of 17 who is attracted to Esther. I play Lon Smith, a 40ish, kind, generous, loving husband and father of five children.
Q: Tell us about your character. How similar are you to him?
A: Mr. Smith is a happily married father of five who wants what’s best for the family as he sees it. I also have five children. The way my character sees things can be in contrast to the way the rest of the family sees things. He’s spinning lots of plates. I can relate on lots of levels. I have the advantage of being self employed.
Q: I understand the play is quite a bit different from the 1944 movie. Can you give a brief synopsis?
A: The story describes a family living in St. Louis in 1903 and 1904 on the eve of the centennial celebration of the Louisiana Purchase, also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair. Mr. Smith has received a promotion and transfer to New York. The move is petitioned, protested and disrupted by the daughters. It is a humorous tale of family interrelatedness tested, tried and proven by everyday issues of life at all ages and stages.
Q: How did so many Smiths end up in one play?
A: My wife and I are avid theater supporters of our children. They got the ball rolling a few years ago when our four oldest auditioned for “Beauty and the Beast” with Children’s Musical Theaterworks and all got lead roles right out of the chute. The theater ball has been rolling ever since. I like to tag along for auditions and callbacks when I can. While watching auditions for “Meet Me in St. Louis,” I was graciously given the opportunity to audition, so here we are.
This is my debut with GCP and my third community theater role. I was in Selma’s “South Pacific” and “The Music Man” with CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre.
Q: What is it like to play a father with daughters and have two of your real daughters in your “family”?
A: It is great fun to perform with two real daughters as “daughters” in my family. With the younger daughters, I wonder if I am getting a preview of coming attractions. I am very grateful my daughters are not nearly as naughty as the characters they portray. It is fun to hear them work lines at home and see the development of their characters at rehearsals. I also greatly appreciates the “notes” I receive from my daughters about how I am portraying my character.
Q: Do you think your understudy cat is jealous of your star cat?
A: There is no jealousy between understudy (Chloe) and star (Spencer). The remarkable thing to me is how quiet, calm, sedate and cooperative Spencer is in rehearsals and on stage. At home he runs wildly about and gets into much mischief. I think he basks in the care of all the womenfolk at the theatre who adore him. He doesn’t seem to have any issues playing a feminine role.
Meet Me in St. Louis
- 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 20
- 2nd Space Theatre, 928 E. Olive Ave.
- www.gcplayers.com, 559-266-0660
- $18, $15 students and seniors