Newcomer Lloyd Harvey shed 20 pounds, his dreadlocks, some insecurities and his pants to play a gay baseball stud in Uptown Players’ ‘Take Me Out’
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor
Lloyd Harvey has something to confess — an outing of himself, if you will.
He hates sports. Well, not hate, it’s just that “I’m more of a comic book nerd. I like movies. I never played sports so I never had the ‘locker room experience.’”
This might not be relevant, except that this week, Harvey will find himself not only in a locker room, but naked there. And pretending to be a god among athletes.
If one wasn’t frightening enough, together they are almost too much to take.
Harvey has the lead role in Take Me Out, the Pulitzer Prizewinning play about a mega-star of the baseball diamond who comes out as gay, setting the sports world — especially his diverse bunch of largely homophobic teammates — into a tizzy.
When Harvey auditioned for it, though, he didn’t really expect to get it — he’s tried out for shows at Uptown Players before without success. Plus, he was able to see his competition.
“I was looking around the room and seeing all these chiseled, fit guys and I’m thinking, ‘I won’t get it,’’ he relates. “Then I got a call-back, which was great, but now I’m seeing all these guys with six-pack abs and I’m the guy with a keg.” That’s when he told the producers he would lose 10 pounds. He even cut off the dreadlocks he’d been growing for three years to get the role.
To his surprise, they cast him — and took him up on his offers to cut and trim. That’s when the real work began.
“I started on P90X [workout] and stopped eating fast food that day,” Harvey says. “One of my friends is a personal trainer, and he made a 20-minute workout to do on top of the P90X. It’s been a total physical change. I weighed 200 pounds in December and now I weigh 180.”
So focused was Harvey, he almost forgot to be nervous about stripping down for the famous shower scene of locker room grab-ass.
“Being an actor — or any kind of artist — you’re putting yourself out there for whatever you do. This is like putting yourself out there double-time. You’re trying not to break the fourth wall while there are a few hundred people watching us. But all you have to do is say ‘Fuck it!’ and have the confidence to go out there and put your heart and your body on the line … though telling my mother I had to do a nude role was an interesting conversation.”
She wasn’t the only one. Harvey has performed at Dallas Children’s Theater and had major roles in community theater productions of Rent and Sweeney Todd, but this is certainly his professional break-through. But it’s also the first time he’s been able to get his friends interested in what he does.
“Before I would do a show and not all my friends would see it. But as soon as I started saying, ‘Yeah, there’s gonna be full nudity in it, ‘every one of my friends bought tickets to see my penis onstage. Some of them threatened to bring cameras. I told them that’s a no-go. ‘Take a picture and I hope you get kicked out of the theater,’ I said. ‘And we certainly won’t be friends anymore.’”
He probably won’t have a hard time making new friends after this anyway.
Oh, ‘Pluck’ it
Steven Walters will be the first person to admit his play Pluck the Day wasn’t the best. You can’t blame him for thinking that — he wrote it 10 years ago, when he already thought he knew everything. When an actor called wanting to submit it to a festival, he thought he was joking. “Sure,” he agreed, “for all the good it’ll do.”
Only it got in, and Walters realized something terrible: He was actually going to have to rewrite it. And re-rewrite. And then again.
It’s almost opening night and he’s still trimming and fixing, whittling down a 2-1/2 hours show into a tight 80 minutes with no intermish.
Pluck the Day was first performed by Second Thought Theatre, which Walters co-founded, in its inaugural season; a decade later, it kicks off STT’s 10th season. It’s like revisiting a long-lost friend. Or maybe frenemy.
“I have a healthy dissatisfaction for everything I do,” Walters says over a beer and burger. “The old script was not good — it was talky and too long. It had no point of view. Now it does.”
The biggest change in the revision, he says, is in the character of Bill, who we learn is gay. Bill is the only man sitting on a lopey West Texas porch who actually develops; the others remain blissfully content to nurture their decaying way of life. But it’s still a comedy.
“It’s a farce,” Walters assures. “That’s one thing that hasn’t changed.”
Bryant Hall next to the Kalita, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Through Feb. 26. Second ThoughtTheatre.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.