Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thayer David in The Sorrows of Frederick,'' 1967

Robert Fletcher and Thayer David in "The Sorrows of Frederick," 1967.
Nobody could have predicted how valuable Thayer David would ultimately become to DARK SHADOWS. Making his debut on the show in August, 1966, David replaced actor George Mitchell in the role of Collinsport handyman Matthew Morgan. A  a few months later, the storyline took a turn that made David's services no longer necessary, leaving both David and Mitchell out of a job. (This was in the early days of DARK SHADOWS, when a character's death was, more or less, final.)

Fortunately, David's talents were no secret to the theater, and his resume reflects an actor who rebounded easily from professional setbacks. In June, 1967, the Manhattan resident appeared the world premiere of Romulus Linney's first play, ''The Sorrows of Frederick,'' at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. To give you an idea of what the forum's debut theatrical offerings were like in 1967, "Frederick" was sandwiched between productions of "The Devils" with Mark Lenard, Frank Langella and William Hickey, and "More Stately Mansions" with Ingrid Bergman(!) and Colleen Dewhurst.

''The Sorrows of Frederick'' is a psychological drama about the eighteenth-century king of Prussia, Frederick the Great, with Fritz Weaver in the title role during the play's premiere. Bruce Glover (father of Crispin) was also in the production. Michael Westmore was the make-up artist for "Frederick," whose credits also include THE MUNSTERS, ROCKY and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. Actor Robert Fletcher, who appears in "Frederick," might also have a connection to STAR TREK. His credits in 1967 included more costume design work than acting roles, leading me to believe he might be the same "Robert Fletcher" who designed the costumes for the first four STAR TREK movies.

David played a character simply named "The Chancellor." Despite his lengthy stage credits at the time, his published biography in the production's playbill cited his involvement in the then-struggling DARK SHADOWS. (Matthew Morgan is even mentioned my name!)

I could find no reviews of "Frederick," but write-ups of later revivals suggest the 1967 premier was plagued by problems. Gordon Davidson, who launched the Mark Taper Forum, was apparently not pleased with the results. "(Director Albert) Marre had no concept of what this theater was about," Davidson told the Los Angeles Times in 2004. "To him, it was a pre-Broadway tryout, it was about Sherman marching through Georgia."

"Frederick" opened in June and closed in August. David would eventually return to the cast of DARK SHADOWS near the end of 1967, going on to play a record eight characters on the series, as well as appearances in both HOUSE and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS.

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