John and I met Nathaniel Hawthorne, this time played by the amazingly talented Bob Gautreau. If I hadn’t met him before the event began, I might really have believed I had met the 19th century author.
It’s not so far fetched. I saw a woman there that looked so much like Anne Rice that I almost asked her to sign my copy of The Vampire Lestat. I didn’t have the book on me, which is fine, because that wasn’t Anne Rice. And I didn’t tell her I thought she was Anne Rice because what if she didn’t like Anne Rice? And in any case, I didn’t go to there to see an Anne Rice impersonator.
The Scarlet Letter(s): The Life and Loves of Nathaniel Hawthorne covers a series of letters that the late author asked his friends and family to burn after he was gone. I wonder how that turned out?
In addition to being the body and soul of Hawthorne, Bob commanded a range of voices to depict many of the major figures in his life, including his wife, Sophia and his good friend Herman Melville. I never knew Melville was a southern author and having no known recordings of his voice with which to compare, I would be thoroughly convinced that Bob’s portrayal of Moby Dick’s author was dead on (so to speak).
From the performance, I learned so many things about Nathaniel Hawthorne that I never knew. For example, he had his own newspaper as a teen. It didn’t run for long or make him much money but just hearing an excerpt of the “announcements” page made me take a good long look at my own tenancy to goad my friends, my family, and the world at large.
Bob’s portrayal was powerful and it inspired both laughter and tears in all the right places. Before and after the performance, he was generous with his time and his enthusiasm for the part. It’s easy to see why he has had such a successful career on stage and in television and I hope you, faithful reader, get a chance to see The Scarlet Letter(s): The Life and Loves of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Also, if you’re reading this Bob, Happy Belated Birthday!