GLEN ROSE – It isn’t everyday that an actor who hails from Glen Rose takes the stage in one of the most popular Broadway shows in the world. Unless of course that actor is Glen Rose transplant and Glen Rose High School graduate, Blake Hammond.
The 53-year-old actor with Glen Rose ties will take the stage July 6 as a doctor and a town drunk in the debut of IDAHO! The Comedy Musical at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in wonderful Las Vegas.
Hammond spent the better part of his adolescent life in Glen Rose, after he and his parents, Lawrence and Rachel Hammond, relocated from Fort Worth when he was in the fifth grade.
The move was sparked by his father taking up ministry at a Baptist camp outside of town, Hammond said. But his theatre career, well that began at the young age of 12.
“When I was in school, there was a small community theatre,” Hammond said. “It was there for about four years and I did a bicentennial show for the town when I was 12. It was my first time on stage doing that. We did a centennial show the next year [in] 1976.”
According to Hammond, it was between his junior and senior year of high school that his passion for theatre grew tremendously.
“I ended up going to a summer camp between my junior and senior year at the University of Texas in Austin,” he explained. “It was a bunch of high school kids and around 50 students were invited to go for theatre. I received a scholarship to attend the University of Texas in Austin for theatre.
“That’s how I ended up majoring in theatre. Obviously, growing up in Glen Rose, I didn’t know any other actor’s, but when I went to UT, the faculty there was very encouraging about my actual talent and what they thought I could do. I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to do anything else my whole career and to have made it as an actor. Sometimes you find your passion and it works.”
Throughout his career, Hammond has been in seven national tours and eleven different Broadway shows. He has played a role – or two – in full-length plays like Living on Love, First Date, Sister Act, Elf, Billy Elliot, Hairspray, The Lion King, Kiss Me Kate, The Music Man, and On the Town.
“One of the most memorable moments I’ve had in my career was the day I got the phone call that I was going to be cast as Edna Turnblad on Broadway in Hairspray,” the talented male actor said. “That was a huge roll. It wasn’t my first Broadway show, but it was the first time I was playing the lead. It’s amazing to come from Glen Rose and then have my name in the New York Times theatre directory every single day. It was kind of overwhelming and amazing.”
Along with travelling for his career doing tours, Hammond has had the privilege to live in several unique places.
“I love that I get to travel and see the entire country and this career takes me all over the place. I live right outside of New York City [normally], but right now I’m living for five weeks in Las Vegas,” Hammond explained. “I love that part of my career.”
“The first few years, when I was in my twenties, I did a small tour of Jesus Christ Superstar,” Hammond added. “Then I moved to Chicago for six or seven years. I felt as if it had more opportunities for me as an actor at that time. I moved to New York when I was 32 years old and a year later I was on my first Broadway show. My career took off when I got back to New York. I’ve had a really great last 20 years of my career.”
Hammond recently finished an eight-month tour with the cast of Cinderella, and, once the tour was up, he had a week off to prepare for IDAHO! The Comedy Musical.
For Hammond and the rest of the crew, IDAHO! is a brand-new production.
The musical, written by Buddy Sheffield, tells the story of a mail-order-bride from Ohio who moves to a small town Idaho to marry her future husband – who the playbill describes as, “A real toad gagger who’s got the personality of a festered wart and enough money to buy every last spud in town.”
The bride falls in love with someone else she encounters upon her arrival, which creates commotion that eventually leads to three couples discovering love.
“Nobody knows what it is and nobody has ever heard these songs,” the Glen Rose grad said. “I play two really great parts in the show. I play the town doctor, but I also play the town drunk. They’re completely opposite roles so its kind of fun. They’ve written it to where every time the drunk comes on, the drunk is looking for the town doctor. So I leave and then I come on as the town doctor. It’s a funny gag.”
If you don’t happen to find yourself in Las Vegas for his most recent production, never fear – Hammond assured that this would not be his final curtain call.
Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_GRR