A guy who works on about a third of all Maui shows is now writing the backstage column? I'd like to think that makes me extra qualified. When I thought about what my first column should be about, I wanted to tell a real backstage story, seeing as I'm literally backstage on "Damn Yankees" this weekend. Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most selfless, talented and dedicated Maui actors and none more so than Steve Hatcher.
Who, you ask? Don't feel too bad, Steve is best known for playing the butler, the cop and man No. 3. In fact he usually plays four or five of those guys in one show. If you've ever worked with him backstage, you know that is his preference. Steve is not the type to sit down and work on a crossword puzzle until his next entrance 30 pages later. He prefers quick changes and a new role awaiting two pages later. For the past few months he has been in uncharted waters, a main character with down time, but not just any character. In "Damn Yankees" Steve is playing the devil, aka Mr. Applegate.
In real life Steve works just as tirelessly at Maui Memorial Hospital as a respiratory therapist. I can't help but imagine someone waking up at the hospital and seeing Steve Hatcher: "Wait, didn't you play the devil? What the hell?"
Over the years, Steve rushes off from a three-hour stage performance straight into a 12-hour nursing shift. Yet always with a smile and plenty of aloha.
"It's my job. Luckily, I get to have my fun before I go to work; most of the cast come straight from work."
As someone who has had to say goodbye to a loved one in the care of the Maui Memorial staff, it was a great comfort to me that people like Steve Hatcher are there.
At a rehearsal last month, director David C. Johnson singled out Steve's hard work.
"He takes a character that has two lines and yet you can't take your eyes off of him." Very few actors can accomplish this every time all the time, literally become the character; Steve is one of those rare few.
"It's not fun for me to sit around backstage. I need to be active and involved," he explains. His new challenge, playing a lead is an added responsibility.
"I feel more of the weight of the show."
But how do you become the devil?
Hatcher was hesitant to tell his extended family about the show and role. Growing up Seventh-day Adventist meant things like "Bewitched" and "I Dream of Genie" were off-limits to him.
"It's hard to play ultimate evil," he says. "Hopefully Applegate becomes a character you love to hate." Hatcher delivers that and more, charming the audience with his quiet wit combined with a wink and a smile.