Veteran actor, Jack Taylor, receives leading role at Seattle Rep

Ira Zuckerman, Copy Editor
Originally published December 19, 2013

Jack Taylor

Jack Taylor

Eye-catching architecture is no groundbreaking concept at the for Seattleites, but one building takes a more minimalist approach. Welcoming bright red double doors greet those who venture beneath the monolithic layers of grey, segmented blocks, and even for those just passing by, big windows give a glimpse into atmospheric lobby, just as red as its entrance.

This is the Seattle Repertory Theatre, referred to in the vernacular as just “The Rep.” Senior actor Jack Taylor will be playing a major character an upcoming play in these great halls.

Written by Samuel D. Hunter, A Great Wilderness is the story of a “pray-the-gay-away” camp in the Idaho woods and its effects on the young men who are counseled there. Taylor plays the part of 16-year-old Daniel, the last client who will be seen by the camp’s experienced owner.

“Daniel is shoved into this. He’s scared and vulnerable as he can’t adapt to this situation and he is confident in that he is the way he is,” Taylor said.

Taylor is the only high-school-age actor in the production, as according to him: “It’s not incredibly common. There’s usually about one child actor at the Rep each year.”

Taylor’s audition involved a reading of “sides” or little snippets of the play, which he did with R. Hamilton Wright, a local awarded actor who has been in 130 professional theatre productions. Now that Taylor is over the hump of auditioning, he has to get over the even bigger hump of memorizing his lines, and then the gigantic summit of figuring out how to perform those lines correctly.

“It’s important to have an idea of how you want to play things and [understand] the characters and their roles within the play,” Taylor said. “For now, I’m just going to read the script weekly.”

Taylor has been acting since the second grade. Throughout that time, his extensive work at the Seattle Children’s Theater and other agencies built him connections with teachers and acting instructors who could recommend him for such a major part.

“I felt good about my audition; it was really hard work,” Taylor said. “With Ballard Theater auditions, you know exactly what you’re giving them. But at the Rep, it’s more open-ended, you don’t know what they might ask for. I wasn’t counting on [getting the part].”

Part of the Seattle Center conglomerate, the Seattle Repertory Theatre is a nationally renowned center for arts, and “only behind the Paramount and 5th Avenue” according to Taylor. The New York Times called it “[Seattle]’s flagship theatre.”

Taylor will be pounding his passion for acting into the floorboards where stars like Richard Gere, Meryl Streep and Samuel L. Jackson did the very same. But while this kind of opportunity couldn’t have been neglected, Taylor will be sorely missed at this year’s musical, Urinetown, after four years of theater with the ardent cast and crew of The Earl Kelly Performing Arts Center.

“As a senior, the senior musical is an important bonding time with the crew, and I’ll especially miss that time with my friend Kianna,” Taylor said.

Taylor and senior Kianna Louisor played Rolf and Liesl respectively in last year’s production of The Sound of Music. The two made a strong familial bond as actors, and are now close friends.

Taylor, lacking the necessary free time to act in Urinetown, is already missing the those countless hours spent in the black box after school.

“I think [the Rep] is a good fit for Jack,” Theatre Director Shawn Riley said. “It’s experimental, it’s new, and they do lots of nice, small, intimate pieces.”

Taylor’s work in the Ballard Theater Productions have well prepared him for such an impossibly grand and open stage as the Rep. “Mr. Riley always has good ideas and is really able to work well with the actors,” senior theatre cast member Simonton-Siegel said.

“He was really excited about the audition,” Louisor said. “He was kind of sad he couldn’t be in the musical, but I knew he had a really good chance at getting the part. He’s really dedicated and he always shines on stage.”

“He’s definitely missed,” Simonton-Siegel said. Having been a part of the Theatre for the nearly four years, Taylor brought something more than just his talent to the cast and crew.

“I already miss working with him,” Theatre Director Shawn Riley said. “Jack is pleasant, studious and always prepared. . . When you meet Jack, he’s quiet and reserved, but when he’s on stage, he puts so much into his art. He’s like a leader to others; kids enjoy working with him. It’s like acting is the real Jack, which is the sign of a great actor.”