Tom Tammi, an acclaimed New York-based actor who has spent his career working on stage, in feature films, and television shows, will be playing the lead role in Hope College Theatre's production of Shakespeare's "King Lear" in November.
The play will run on Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 19-22, at 8 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre.
The role of King Lear is considered a highlight for many actors, so what was Tammi's reaction to the offer?
"To tell the truth, I was not attracted to it when it was first proposed to me," he said. "No doubt it scared me. But as soon as I started to explore it, I was hooked."
Tammi has spent a career exploring all avenues of acting, and has landed roles in films such as "Sleepless in Seattle," "The Thomas Crown Affair," and "Clear and Present Danger."
His television work includes guest appearances on "Deadline," "Law and Order, SVU," "St. Elsewhere," and several appearances on "Law and Order." He was also a series regular on the daytime shows, "Edge of Night" and "As the World Turns."
But Tammi's professional career began at the legendary Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, and he left there to study for two years at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in England. Since then, he has appeared in several Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, and regional theatres throughout the country.
This is not Tammi's first time working with Hope College students. He appeared as Scrooge in the 1971 production of "A Christmas Carol" which opened the DeWitt Theatre, and he returned to play the role again in 1981.
Michelle Bombe, director of theatre at Hope, believes that both audience members and students will benefit from Tammi's visit.
"Mr. Tammi brings a wealth of professional experience in theatre and film to his characterization of Lear," Bombe said. "The stakes are higher for the students and the benefits they reap from the exposure are immeasurable."
Tammi says working with Hope students has been a great experience in the past. "They're eager to learn, and that's what we do in rehearsal, learn," he said.
But he does not come to Hope with the belief that he has all the answers. "I'll be a student along side of them," he said.
Tammi will spend over a month in rehearsals with students prior to opening night. It will give him plenty of time to spend with his brother, John K.V. Tammi, who is not only a theatre professor at Hope, but the director of "King Lear" as well.
Bombe likes the connection. "In this highly collaborative art form, it is an added bonus to watch the brothers work together," she said.
Tom Tammi's visit is being supported through the Hope College Patrons for the Arts.
Tickets for "King Lear" are $7 for regular admission, $5 for members of the college's faculty and staff, and $4 for senior citizens and students, and go on sale on Wednesday, Nov. 5, in the theatre lobby box office in the DeWitt Center. The box office is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on weekday performance nights until 8 p.m.; and on Saturday, Nov. 22, from noon to 8 p.m., and may be called at (616) 395-7890.
The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.