Entertainment » Highlights » Vol. 17

Actor and Director Bill Sigalis

An Integral Part of Worcester’s Theatrical Past ~ and Future

By Cherie Ronayne

Bill Sigalis

Bill Sigalis

As “Welcome” The Doormat in his first elementary school production, local Actor/Director Bill Sigalis knew he had to be on stage ~ even lying down!

This news was a bitter pill to swallow for Bill’s parents, first generation Greeks who believed their first-born son should become…no, was going to become, a doctor. The best he could do to placate them was graduate from Clark University with a major in biology, satisfying his longing for the footlights by participating in Clark’s Theatre program along the way.
After bumming around the country for several years, Bill finally settled into a long and rewarding career working locally in the science and business sectors. Full-time day jobs and acting gigs on the side kept him distracted from the ever-present actor lament, “When will my first big break come?”

A well-developed and diverse, live, local theatre scene provided him with plenty of opportunities to pursue his first love part-time, while his full-time jobs provided financial stability that made pursuing acting possible without financial worry.

As a director, he was mentored during his days at Clark by James S. Edwards, who taught him how a director works, among other things.  His immense respect for this advisor helped him to develop his approach which has been refined over the years.

“Cast it well, then stand aside,” is his mantra.

A bespectacled, refined looking older gentleman, Bill’s gentle looks often belie his more raucous manner. Looking out from the top of his small glasses, he laughingly confides that there are other thoughts that cross his mind occasionally when uttering the dreaded, “Thank you…we’ll be in touch,” during auditions. And after the casting is done, what he loves about being a director is “Watching actors get it on!” (on stage…of course!)

His favorite show to direct? “House of Blue Leaves” by John Guare (which, coincidentally, is Worcester County Light Opera Club’s opening show of their 2010-2011 season).

Favorite role to play? George in “Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?” or Martin Dysart in “Equus.” As many times as he’s played George, Bill’s always found something new in the role to interpret and to expand.  Bill’s commanding stage presence, versatility, and fearlessness on stage made him a favorite on the stage of the former Worcester Forum Theatre, in their straight plays, comedies, and productions of Shakespeare.

As an older working actor and director, he is encouraged by older talents who have the innate ability to re-invent themselves ~ like Betty White and Helen Mirren, the latter of whom he says recently appeared nude in a NY Magazine bathtub spread to promote her new move called Love Ranch and was, in his own words, “gorgeous!”  As for Betty White, Bill says if you want to learn perfect comic timing as an actor, watch her in old re-runs of “Golden Girls.” “Comedic acting cannot be taught.”

Actor, Director, and now…Fundraiser?  Bill’s newest and most exciting project is raising funds to produce Eugene O’Neill’s classic American masterpiece “The Iceman Cometh” at the bar of the Hotel Vernon, a local and very unique venue in Kelley Square. “It’s the perfect location,” he says, because the setting is entirely within a seedy bar. What better way to combine art with quintessential Worcester! (Keep an eye out for this show ~ with Bill at the helm it will be a “Do not miss!”)

What else is there beyond theatre for Bill? He stays very busy with travel and family, doting on his six grandchildren. But one always feels, when looking at the twinkle in Bill’s eyes, that his next theatrical tour de force, whether restaging a classic or embarking on something completely new, is just around the corner.  And the theatre community ~ from actors to audience ~ should be very thankful that we have such a devilishly talented man keeping theatre alive for us.

“The lie of a pipe dream is what gives life to the whole misbegotten mad lot of us, drunk or sober.” – Eugene O’Neill, “The Iceman Cometh”

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