Charles Merlis claims he is “infected by theatre. It’s like malaria. It keeps coming back.”
His “infection” has been running rampant for the last seventy years. He was introduced to theatre at six years old. His older sister was taking drama classes at a local YMCA. He tagged along and later, made his stage debut as “Woofie” in Wags and Woofie. At seven, he started reciting Shakespeare. One year later, he put an advertisement in the local paper to work in an Appreciation Class in a High School. “Basically I went into these classes as an eight year old and shamed the kids into studying Shakespeare,” he said.
Charles quit college in the middle of his junior year to go to New York City to make his fortune. He studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse and made money as a cab driver and ballroom dance instructor. He also found some time to act and direct.
However, after a few years of pounding the pavement, he decided to return to college at Yale as a Drama Major. After graduation, he was in a serious accident that fractured his skull. He spent an extra year there and took courses at Yale Law School, eventually becoming a lawyer. Even then, he found time to perform in a production of Moliere’s A Doctor In spite of Himself.
After many years of being a New Yorker, practicing law and raising a family, Charles found his way back to Connecticut. Once in the Nutmeg state, he threw himself into the community theater world. He performed with several theater groups including Warner Stage Company, Suffield Players, Little Theatre of Manchester and Thomaston Opera House.
“This is my second time at Hole in the Wall,” said Charles. In Lysistrata, he plays the Old Men Chorus Leader, Corinthian Women, and Reconciliation Goddess of Peace. “It’s nice to do Aristophanes. In acting, you can let go of your emotions because they aren’t your emotions. In real life, emotions are so scary. Then again, emotions are the stuff theater is made of.”
And after seventy years in the theatre, he would know.
Come see Charles when Lysistrata runs Fridays & Saturdays from November 13 through December 5 at 8:00pm with one Sunday matinee on November 22 at 2:00pm. Tickets are $20.00 (general admission) and $15.00 (students and seniors). They can be purchased at the door and online at www.hitw.org The November 27th performance will be our Pay-What-You-Can performance where you name the price of your ticket. Lysistrata is funded in part with the support of the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation.