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Theater Fri Mar 08 2013

Standing in the Shadows of Love: An Interview with Actor Tommy Ford

_Tommy Ford.jpg

Tommy Ford is famously known to television audiences for his role as one-fifth of the ensemble cast of the hit 90s FOX sitcom, "Martin"; he later moved on to major roles on shows including "New York Undercover" and "The Parkers," and can be seen in the upcoming TV movie, In the Meantime. While this actor, director and producer has enjoyed a solid career on the small screen--and the big screen--he also puts in work on the stage. Ford, who was in town last fall for the premiere of Dreams, (directed and produced by Chicago's own, Joel Kapity), returns to the Windy City for the stage play Standing in the Shadows of Love (written and produced by Chicago's Tracie Armour-Adetunji), which also stars Tony Award-winning actress and singer Jennifer Holliday (Dreamgirls). Here, he talks about the play, which tells the story about one family's struggle through a life-changing event.

Standing in the Shadows of Love is a story about how a family's troubles while dealing with one of its members wrongful imprisonment. Tell us about it.

It's a whole lot of drama. But it's a wonderful story; it almost reminds me of the Prodigal Son. People get caught up in their own world and their own issues and forget that family is so amazingly important to have--that you have someone to lean on and to love you in spite of yourself. It's a story about family, loyalty and honesty.

How did you become a part of this project?

I got some emails and phone calls and after reading the script, I said "Okay, this really is a wonderful story and I'd love to be a part of it."

What is your character in this play?

I play David, and he is a guy who, on the outside, seems like he has it all together; he's a successful businessman and has a beautiful family. Things change when his brother, who is accused of committing a horrible crime, goes away to prison. His wife passes away while he is in prison, leaving his son without any parents. David invites his son to live with him; however his wife and son were never kind to that side of his family, and it becomes a "them against us" sort of thing. Because David felt he let his brother down by not really being there for him, he was determined not to fail his nephew. It really is a wonderful story about forgiveness, redemption and honesty.

What would you say is different about David from other roles you've played?

I've been around for a long time so there are not too many things I haven't done already, but what I admire about David is his ability to make the difficult choices.

Does the play address the social or political aspect of incarceration?

I do think that one of the things it reveals more than anything is that it's so easy for us to place judgment and put labels on folks based on the choices they've made or may not have made. There are folks who have indeed been imprisoned who have not committed crimes and then there are some folks who have paid their debt to society, learned their lessons and have completely been reformed. It's the easiest thing in the world to label folks and point fingers, but it becomes our responsibility as well to give them a second chance and to help to redeem them and reform themselves.

The cast is made up of some powerhouse vocalists with Jennifer Holliday, Christopher Williams, and Chicago's Dave Hollister and Terisa Griffin. What is it like working with this cast?

It is indeed an honor to work with Jennifer Holliday who is a legend in her own right--not only as a vocalist but also on Broadway. Theater is my first love and I'm excited about working with her as she has such an amazing theatrical career. And then there's Christopher Williams who I've worked with in the past and Dave Hollister who I'm a big fan and good friend of, so it is an exciting opportunity to be able to work with all these amazingly talented folks.

Your resume boasts the acting trifecta of television, film and stage, and you just mentioned theater as your first love. What is it about the theater and the stage that you love most?

It's the only place where I'm completely powerful. In theater, I own a 100% monopoly of my performance; you cannot speed up or slow down a scene with things like graphics or special effects. I own the performance and that's what makes it so empowering.

What message do you want the audience to gain from this play?

The message I want them to get is the importance of manhood--that every household has to have a man to lead, guide, and contribute. I also want them to walk out of this play knowing how important the family unit is. Every one of us has a place, purpose and position in this family unit--this "machine"--and when that all falls apart , the whole unit is imbalanced.

~*~

See Standing in the Shadows of Love for one-night only, Saturday, March 9 at 7pm, at Christ Universal Temple, 11901 S. Ashland; tickets are $45-$60. For more information, call 773-568-2282.

Tommy Ford photo courtesy Dramatically Correct Productions.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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