The third time’s the charm for actor Terry Wells, whose appearance in the Southern Shakespeare Company’s production of “As You Like It” will be his third time performing in the play over the length of his career. During this May’s Southern Shakespeare Festival in Cascades Park, Wells will appear as two characters, Duke Frederick and Duke Senior. Both differ greatly from his previous roles in the comedy — his first time as Adam at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in the late ‘90s, and the second time as Jacques during one of his final performances in Toronto before returning to Tallahassee.
As an actor, Wells has been delighted to work with many talented directors, and considers Canadian director Rod Cebellos to be a prominent mentor as he cast Wells in many diverse and challenging roles. With every project and play, Wells appreciates traversing different worlds, and the customs, dynamics and behaviors of each character he’s given the chance to embody. Wells has been particularly drawn to classics, the language of the bard both striking and enticing him. His favorite roles in Shakespeare have included Jacques from “As You Like It,” Feste in “Twelfth Night,” and Lavatch in “All’s Well That Ends Well.”
“Levatch was just a sweet guy to play, and Jacques was such a philosophical, melancholy, and strange kind of guy,” said Wells. “Feste was really fun because he had some great songs that I got to sing, which I don’t normally do. I was also given the opportunity to go nuts with the pranks his character pulls, and I enjoyed exploring that side of my personality.”
No matter the play or role, Wells always appreciates a challenge. He found just that in two recent shows, playing Sigmund Freud in “Freud’s Last Session” and performing in “Ma Rainey’s Black
Bottom” with a Sarasota theater troupe. Both plays discussed and brought to light everything from faith and prejudice to good and evil.
“I like to work on something with some meat to it,” says Wells. “I love things that are well written with complex language too which is why I’m inspired by the chance to do something from the classics. These texts have survived 400 years and will possibly be around another 400 years or more.”
Tallahassee is Wells’ childhood stomping ground and where his passion for the theater was cultivated. An active thespian in Leon High School’s theater group and musicals, he graduated from Florida State University’s theater program during Dr. Richard Fallon’s tenure. His English teacher, Ms. Clear, at Raa Middle School, first stoked his interest in theater during their readings of the classics, and Wells was thrust onstage in a myriad of roles by mentor Ray Kickliter, Leon High School’s former choral and musical director.
Post-graduation, Wells attended the University of Alabama for his MFA and spent the subsequent years traveling and performing as an Equity actor throughout the country.
He returned to his hometown just shy of a decade ago and continues to be inspired by the city’s flourishing arts scene.
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