Arthur Miller

Q & A Series : Equity Actor, Bret Tuomi

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There have been nearly a thousand actors, designers, directors, and staff employed by the Rep over our 50 years. We can’t think of a better way to help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of MRT than to hear from those who’ve made it all possible. This Q & A series helps illuminate the vast range of experiences the Rep offers. We get to hear from Bret Tuomi – Broadway veteran, Chicago actor, and Rep Alum.

Before Bret became the successful actor he is now, he was an Acting student at the University of Montana. He went on to tour nationally once as a student, three times as a non-equity professional, and three more times as an Equity Actor.

Bret has done over 100 performances on Broadway of the musical Rock of Ages. His Chicago credits include: The Iceman Cometh with Nathan Lane at the Goodman Theatre, Julius Caesar at Chicago Shakespeare, and ENRON at TimeLine Theatre Company. Film and television credits include a featured role in Keep the Change with Jack Palance (a TBS television movie) and commentary as Dr. Trent Troutly on ESPN2’s Fly Fishing Challenge.


Q: What was special about the Montana Repertory Theatre experience you had?
Getting to see the country while getting to know some of the closest friends I’ll ever have.

Q: Where did your work with Montana Rep come in your career? Student? Equity? What effect did it have on your career?
I did seven tours between 1992 and 2010. Once as a student, three times as non-equity, and three times as Equity. I got my equity card in 2002 doing Death of a Salesman. I am enormously grateful for the opportunities I have had with this company – and I seriously hope that my work with the company is not done.

Q: The Rep has long since had a tradition of producing American Canonical texts. What is your favorite classic the Rep has toured? And why?
Death of a Salesman. It tells a story of characters we all know very well.

Q: If you could tell a student actor hoping to work for The Rep one thing – what would it be?
Pack light.

Q: Looking back on your work with Montana Repertory Theatre, which singular memory stands out the most?
I’m sure I’m not the only person when faced with this question to think of half a dozen instances which would fall into the category of “what happens on tour stays on tour”. The problem is that so many of these memories would incriminate me or someone else. Anyone who has gone out on the road knows there are varying levels of debauchery on every tour. The thing is, it’s this kind of life that really lends itself to the best kind of bonding a human can have. And when a person can experience that, while bringing America’s greatest stories to America, that’s about as good as it gets.

(Bret seen right in Montana Rep’s production of Leading Ladies)

Our Town Indeed

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As I was taking “Scout” my Border-Collie, Australian-Shepard- cross down to Greenough Park this morning for our daily saunter, I passed Eric Palmer putting some electrical supplies into his truck, I passed Amanda Pollard with her retriever coming out of the park, and I saw a young boy kneeling on the corner sidewalk tying his shoes next to a stack of books. I thought of OUR TOWN by Thornton Wilder, and how we all go about our daily lives regardless on national and international news, good or bad. I felt the profound sense of what it means to be an American at this time and place. I thought of this as Scout and I walked over bridges and across frost covered meadows watching the fog lift off Rattlesnake Creek. Upon leaving the park, ascending the hill towards home, I thought of another Thornton Wilder play: THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH, a haunting parable on the human condition. In it, the Antribus family progresses through history, apparently repeating the follies that human nature is prone to. At this particular time in our history we are reminded of human frailty, folly and the repetition of patterns in our own culture. We ask “are we progressing or not? Is the bright promise of America being fulfilled?” As we struggle to answer these questions we are reminded of the great playwrights like Wilder who seek to light our way.

It is in this spirit we look to The Montana Repertory Theatre’s 50th anniversary season and our GALA party coming up January 20th. We will be celebrating five decades of bringing quality theatre to our audiences, and for the past twenty-five years, nationally. Significant to this discussion is the nature of the plays. The Montana Rep produces plays from the great American tradition. These plays, by the very best American writers, from Thornton Wilder to Arthur Miller, to Tennessee Williams, to Neil Simon and William Inge and Harper Lee, are the very bread and butter of the company.

We have been telling America’s story: examining, studying, exposing and celebrating the American character in all its multi-faceted aspirations and imperfections. For as Wilder teaches us, we are a marvelous brood of very different types, characters, dreams and flaws, who keep going on, in the belief that we are a good, imperfect, mistake prone, often selfish and unseeing tribe, but in the end, bending to the best in us. This optimism is very important for us to be reminded of these days and why we are so delighted to be offering Neil Simon’s heartfelt paean to young love with our national touring production of BAREFOOT IN THE PARK.

The GALA opening to which you all invited is on January 20th , the very day the 45th president of The United States will be inaugurated. It is fitting therefor that we end that day with a celebration of all that brings us together as Americans, the common causes we all strive for as we move forward, however imperfectly, towards an America that celebrates life, love and each other.

Hope to see you all January 20th for BAREFOOT IN THE PARK and our big party.

Thank you
Greg Johnson
Artistic Director
The Montana Repertory Theatre