Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

September 1, 2017

Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose

Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield, MA
through September 3, 2017
by Jarice Hanson

When Ed Dixon bounds onto the stage in his one-man show about his friend and mentor, he has the audience enthralled within the first 15 seconds. Dixon, who wrote the 90-minute memoire about the great British character actor, George Rose, performs his tribute with energy and total commitment. He connects to the audience with his booming voice, a stage presence cultivated by over 50 years in the business, and the warmth of a master storyteller. Aided with direction by Broadway director Eric Schaeffer, the evening of entertainment is fascinating and profound.

Dixon first met George Rose in a road production of “The Student Prince,” and was immediately taken with the way Rose commanded the stage, and flabbergasted that Rose actually had his contract written so that he had license to ad-lib. Undoubtedly, Rose was a complicated, fascinating actor who had his quirks and passions, like sharing his New York apartment with two mountain lions  For the next few decades the friendship grew as each developed their Broadway careers, often supporting each other through good shows and flops. When Rose died mysteriously and tragically near his home in the Dominican Republic, Dixon suffered the pain of loss until he gained control of his life and began acting and writing again.

Photo by Micah Logsdon
Dixon, a character actor himself, who now plays many of the same roles that made Rose famous (Mr. Doolittle in “My Fair Lady,” Major General Stanley in “The Pirates of Penzance,” to name but two) nails impressions of Rose, Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, and other celebrities throughout the telling of the story, and never loses his connection to the audience. When the inevitable cell phone goes off at the same time a car revs an engine outside the theater, Dixon deftly incorporates it into the story.

There’s no doubt that all actors enjoy a good story about another actor, but Dixon has made an art form out of telling a good yarn, and making you feel that you are in the room as he laughingly, lovingly, and sometimes, painfully recreates the life of one of the most important people he’s ever known. This tribute honors George Rose, and it raises Ed Dixon to the pantheon of masterful memoirists.