Hollywood Star Comes Home to Direct At IPFW (VIDEO)

By Eric Olson

November 29, 2013 Updated Nov 29, 2013 at 5:46 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- For eleven seasons he made us laugh as mercurial sportscaster Bulldog Briscoe on the classic TV sitcom ‘Frasier’.

Actor Dan Butler’s roots aren’t in Hollywood, though..they’re right here in Fort Wayne Indiana…born in Huntington, the actor, writer and director was raised in the summit city, graduated from Northrop High School…studied acting at IPFW. Now he’s come home to direct and star in IPFW’s production of ‘Our Town’, staged in the same theatre he performed in as a student. The play by Thornton Wilder, like Shakespeare's ‘Hamlet’, explores basic questions about the human condition.

“It just changes your life a little bit,” explains Butler, “and it makes you ask some hard questions and I think he very gently with a great compassion for human beings he very gently leads you down this road.”

The play revolves around high school sweethearts who marry after graduation then suffer great tragedy. Butler plays the Stage Manager who guides the audience through Wilder’s story.

“Wilder was constantly questioning how do we live, how does someone get over or walk through the disruptions or what fate throws at you? The death of loved ones, how do you get through that, how do you deal with death how do you live each day.”

Butler says he enjoys coming home to Indiana, seeing his family who still live here. But the visits are always bittersweet…returning home to a state where his marriage to actor/director Richard Waterhouse isn’t considered legitimate. So Butler will leave Fort Wayne when ‘Our Town’ closes next month…but his hometown will be on his mind.

“I’m getting ready to write something else,” he says, “something having to do with growing up in Indiana. The contradictions of being an American sometimes, I think you have to embrace the whole. It’s really tempting to get very black and white and say ‘this is good this is bad’. And there’s a lot of that going on right now. So how do you navigate and keep your own sensibilities through all that that intrigues me.”

Eric Olson reporting, out in 21 Country.

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