The Brass Ring

I suppose every child goes through the period of “I want to be an actor”.  At a very, very young age, I was ‘performing’.  (I sang solos for over 80-years) Of course, movies were my first ‘wanta’, but other than a few videos, I never made the big screen. I did civic theater in Amarillo and Bryan as well as a summer stock at the Point Theater outside Kerrville. I auditioned for Houston shows, but it wasn’t until a fluke gave  me opportunity to go “Pro”. I was doing ‘all-night’ at KODA-FM in Houston when I got a call to audition for “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” to open at the Tower Theater in January, 1978. The company was already in rehearsal, but had two roles to fill. The roles of Mayor Rufus Poindexter of Gilbert and State Senator J. T. Wingwold had been offered to some actors, but they refused. I auditioned before the entire company and was offered both roles. There was already a Jim Austin on air in Houston, so I chose to use J Nick Walker (“Nick the Nite Walker”).
The show was an Equity production and ‘Jim Austin’ was already registered, so I went with my KODA name. (Thus, when you get a playbill from the Houston company of National Tour II, you will lnot find “Jim Austin” in the cast.) For nearly 4-years, I was known as J Nick and will probably still be known by that name by many of the 60-odd members of the cast. We had two leading ladies, four Sheriffs, four Jewels, four Melvin P. Thorpes, three Governors and multiple changes in the chorus, band and back-stage. (unfortunately death hit us when we lost our Sheriff in Reno and many of our chorus boys were HIV victims)  After the National Tour, I had done all the things I had on my Bucket List, except for broadcasting and teaching. I did some of both for a bunch of time, up until I said my last ‘goodbye’ as a performer in 2007. I had a great run, donchaknow. I learned to appreciate and honor professionalism. I learned to take things as they came, knowing it was all in GOD’s Plan for my life. I am retired, but still in ‘retread’. I’m not finished and that’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates.     AMEN

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