December Northside Man: Jim Gray

Photo by Mike Glatzer Photography #mikeglatzerphotos
Jim Gray
By Lori Wynne

Northside Man: Jim Gray, retired Delta Pilot
City of Residence: Cumming
Hometown: Dearborn, Michigan
Family: My wife, Lynne, and I have been married 51 years. We have two boys and four grandchildren in our extended family. They all live nearby in Cumming and Peachtree Corners.

Does this smiling face look familiar to you? Perhaps you have seen him at Barrington Hall in Roswell playing the part of Barrington King. Did you recognize the twinkle in his eye during a walking tour of Restless in Rest Haven, the historic cemetery in Roswell? Did you recognize his voice in the local productions of Annie, Oliver, King Lear, Measure for Measure or To Kill a Mockingbird?

If you haven’t recognized him yet, you soon will. Jim Gray, a fifteen-year Cumming resident and retired Delta pilot landed the part of Kris Kringle in the ACT1 Theater’s upcoming musical production of Miracle on 34th Street. See him portray this iconic character every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Nov. 25 through Dec. 18.

NSW recently sat down with this versatile gentleman to learn more about the man behind characters he plays.

When did you become involved in the local theater scene?

“I have had a love of the theater and history for many years. After retiring from Delta Airlines in 2003 I pursued my interest in theater by becoming involved in local theater productions. I have been involved in ACT1 Theater for six years. I also enjoy portraying local historical characters in walking tours in Roswell’s historic buildings such as Barrington Hall. There are lots of opportunities to share one’s talent in the area. I am involved in as many as five different productions at a time.

Is this your first time playing the part of Kris Kringle?

Yes! It is also the first and only beard I have ever grown! In an ideal world if there were a real Santa Claus, he would bring joy. I enjoy this character because he treats everyone with love and inspires people to treat others with love. That’s my favorite line from the musical, “Treat everyone with love.” In fact, the original title to Miracle on 34th Street was Here’s Love.

What other characters have you portrayed?

I played the part of Maurice, Belle’s father in a local version of Beauty and the Beast. Bringing a cartoon character to life was interesting. Matching the well-known intonations and cadence was enjoyable. For the past four years I play a standardized patient for Emory Medical School in the clinical studies program.  Doing anything by Shakespeare is my favorite. An actor can really bring a character to life. One of my favorite characters was Scrooge in a comedic version of A Christmas Carol. I enjoyed bringing his trajectory to life.

What do you enjoy most about the theater?

I enjoy breathing life into a character. It is satisfying finding the human interest and the human character in each part. I love being around other creative people in theater. The theater is blind to gender, body size or sexual preference. People bring and share their gifts. To work in that environment is wonderful.
I enjoy interacting with the audience. People go to the theater to leave their troubles at the door. We hope to leave them better than when they came.

What do you like most about ACT1 Theater?

We nurture people who have little or no experience in acting at ACT1. The old sanctuary at the Alpharetta Presbyterian Church was converted into a theater over 20 years ago. It is an emotionally safe place where people can experience something new. We try to treat everyone with love. We do family friendly shows. Treat it as your local community theater and come see our shows. ■


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