Father-son Acting Duo in "Donuts" Downtown
Comedian and rapper combine acting talents in Cyrano’s production
ANCHORAGE - At Cyrano's Off-Center Playhouse, the production of the play “Superior Donuts” includes a father and son whose performance paths have reached a rare intersection.
They're making a name for themselves – the same name, actually.
"It's amazing to watch,” says Kelly Lee Williams Sr. “It's my boy leading the charge and making these people go, ah! You know, just putting them through an emotional wringer."
"This, 'Superior Donuts,' is much more epic and comical and sad than the previous plays I’ve done before this," said Kelly Lee Williams Jr.
The father has a relatively small part as a Chicago cop investigating vandalism at a donut shop.
"This is just random or somebody hates you," the cop tells shop owner Arthur Przbyuszewski, played by Dick Reichman. "Hate crime!" responds Arthur. "No, hate crime is aimed at specific groups, you know, minorities," the cop corrects him.
The son has a major role as Franco Wicks, a young black gambler on the run from mobsters, who forms sort of an odd couple connection with Arthur, a Polish ex-draft dodger.
The young man challenges his new boss to name 10 black poets.
"So this a test?" Arthur asks. "Yes, this is a test. This is your racist test." Franco confirms. "I have to take a racist test?" Arthur asks. "You say you ain't no racist." Franco responds. "What about you? Do you have to take a racist test?" Arthur asks. Franco: "You'd better re-read Malcolm, Arthur P. I can't be racist. I'm the oppressed."
Director Steve Hunt says he enjoyed working with both the Williamses. "There's only one scene between the two actors on stage. But when they are both on stage together, there's a certain chemistry that happens between them, which is really, really nice."
Reichman says, "People who have good comic timing tend to be good psychological actors, as well, because both of them take the psychology – the thinking through of the moment of consciousness – whether it's to get a laugh or get a tear or just move you with the telling of the story."
The only previous collaboration between father and son came last year in the production of the rock opera "Tommy" at Mad Myrna’s, when the younger Williams stepped in on short notice to sing the opening song.
The elder Williams played Barack Obama in “The Whale Fat Follies" at Taproot last summer.
"Playing Barack Obama in Chicago would be fun. Playing Barack Obama here is a health hazard."
He also appeared in the movie “Big Miracle” and assisted the actor Curtis Williams, aka 50 Cent, during the recently wrapped “The Frozen Ground.”
"I was a stand-in and a stunt double. I drove the car; I dressed up just like him. I looked like a pimp named Slickback from the boondocks."
While the Williams duo is getting known in Anchorage for their acting, the fact is the father already has established himself as a local comedian, and the son is planning a rapping career.
Kelly Lee Williams Sr. has organized weekly stand-up nights at the S Lounge and is now doing customized freelance comedy.
"So I bring the comedy show to them. I am a full-functioning mobile DJ. So I can bring a show to anybody's living room, basement, whatever."
Meanwhile, his son has been writing and rapping at home, preparing for a public debut.
One of his songs in progress: "All you have to do is believe / and show up with your pleas / helps to go on your knees / whatever or whoever you're praying to can't help but help you receive / desire isn't simply greed / it's what drives you to achieve."
Inspired by his father, and others, Kelly Lee Williams Jr. says he's confident and ambitious.
"Everyone has taught me, like, if I can dream it, if I can believe I can, I can do it."
Like father, like son.