November 3, 2013

The many faces of Portland actor Dustin Tucker

The transplanted Texan, who has just begun one of the busiest stretches of his career in Maine, talks about life off stage.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Dustin Tucker’s anonymity is an anomaly.

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Dustin Tucker stars in “Vigil,” now playing at Portland Stage Company.

Aaron Flacke photo courtesy of Portland Stage Company

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Dustin Tucker walks his with dog Minnie in Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery. “I liked working here so much, I decided I should live here,” said Tucker, who grew up in Amarillo, Texas. “Portland is a beautiful town, and I have a great circle of friends here.”

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

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IF YOU GO

‘VIGIL”

WHEN: Through Nov. 17

WHERE: Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave., Portland

HOW MUCH: $40 and $45

INFO & TICKETS: 774-0465; portlandstage.org

He has one of the most-recognized faces in Portland. He’s on stage as much as anyone, and as adroit as he is with his words and timing, Tucker’s ability to contort, bend and manipulate his eyes, eyebrows and other facial features makes his the most memorable mug in theater in Portland.

For the last few weeks, Tucker has been able to walk around his adopted hometown without recognition.

For his current show at Portland Stage Company, “Vigil,” Tucker has dyed his hair and eyebrows from dirty blond to a copper-brown, changing his look from a cosmopolitan 34-year-old to an stuffy, older banker-type.

Walking downtown or working out at the gym, he’s been going about his business with unusual stealthiness.

“Nobody knows who I am, which is kind of cool,” Tucker observed during a walk with his dog Minnie through Evergreen Cemetery. “But I forget that it’s there. I say hi to people and they think I’m weird.”

Tucker, a transplanted Texan who has made his home in Portland for five years, has just begun one of the busiest stretches of his professional life in Maine. He stars in “Vigil,” a dark comedy by Canadian playwright Morris Panych. It’s about a cynical, dislikeable cuss who rushes to the bedside of a dying aunt, who doesn’t die nearly fast enough for her nephew’s liking or convenience.

Tucker has nearly all the lines in the two-person show, which is up at Portland Stage through Nov. 17. After a brief respite, he reprises “The Santaland Diaries,” David Sedaris’s one-man show featuring another cynical cuss. It’s on stage in the Studio Theater at Portland Stage from Dec. 3-22.

“It’s a busy stretch,” Tucker concedes. “But I’ll be OK.”

Lord knows, he’s done it before. Tucker is nothing if not busy. He’s made it his goal to work as an actor since he left his home in Amarillo, Texas, as a teenager to study theater at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, a fine-arts boarding school for high-schoolers.

After graduating from high school, he moved to New York when he was 18, and lived there 11 years before relocating to Maine, He worked regularly in Maine before moving here.

He got his start in Maine at the Theater at Monmouth, and auditioned three or four times for roles at Portland Stage before finally landing a job in the theater’s then-annual production of “A Christmas Carol.” After acting in that show two years, he got his break when Portland Stage artistic director Anita Stewart cast him in “Fully Committed,” a one-man show in which he appeared as nearly 40 characters.

It was a breakthrough role. It allowed him to prove himself as a comic actor with great range and dexterity. That was January 2008. He moved to Portland that same year.

“I liked working here so much, I decided I should live here,” said Tucker, who resides a short walk from the theater. “Portland is a beautiful town, and I have a great circle of friends here. It’s almost impossible to make a living as a stage actor these days, but I can do that here. Portland is affordable, and I am happy here.”

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

He travels across the country to earn his living. In 2014, he has nine months of work booked already, including two months each at the Lake Tahoe and Idaho Shakespeare festivals. “That’s a good year,” he said confidently. “I didn’t work like that when I was in New York.”

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Dustin Tucker in the Portland Stage production “The Santaland Diaries”

Todd Brian Backus photo courtesy of PSC

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Dustin Tucker in the Portland Stage production of “Greater Tuna”

Aaron Flacke photo courtesy of Portland Stage Company

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Dustin Tucker in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” last summer at the Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

Courtesy photo

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Dustin Tucker in Portland Stage Company's "Fully Committed"

Darren Setlow photo courtesy of Portland Stage Company

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Dustin Tucker with Julie Nelson in “Vigil”

Aaron Flacke photo courtesy of Portland Stage Company

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Dustin Tucker, left, with Daniel Noel in Portland Stage's "Bach at Leipzig"

Darren Setlow photo courtesy of Portland Stage Company



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