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Posts Tagged Ricardo Beaird

Theatre Can Save Your Life


Cast of Dot on Stage in livingroom with Christmas Tree

L to R: Michael Hanna (Adam), Ricardo Beaird (Donnie), Cynthia Jones-Taylor (Dotty), Maxwell Collyard (Fidel) and Yvette Garnier (Shelly) in DOT
(Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)

“It’s a cheesy thing to say, but theatre saved my life.”

What actor Ricardo Beaird, who plays Dotty’s son in DOT, claims is likely not the first time that theatre has done that for someone, particularly someone younger. At 16, Ricardo was at the brink of failing and repeating a grade in school. Serendipity came in the form of a teaching artist, visiting to teach his class Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

“I couldn’t understand it at all, but the artist took the time to help me decode it. I came to understand it so much that I could make others understand it, too. I then realized that I could use that same model–decoding to fit my way of learning and being able to explain to someone else–for other subjects, like math. I ended up becoming an A student!”

Donnie and Shelly in the kitchen

Ricardo Beaird (Donnie) and Yvette Ganier (Shelly) in DOT
(Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)

According to Ricardo, he’d “felt dumb at the time.” Now he himself is gratifyingly also a teaching artist, with the additional perk of lifelong learning through theatre from his own stage work. After earning a B.S. in Theatre and Marketing from Middle Tennessee State University, what initially brought Ricardo to the Twin Cities in 2013 was an Actor-Educator position with CLIMB Theatre in Inver Grove Heights. Once the job ended, he stayed rather than moving to Chicago as originally planned due to our thriving and hospitable theatre community.

DOT is Ricardo’s second time on Park Square’s Proscenium Stage. His first time was in another family comedy/drama, Sons of the Prophet, during our 2015-2016 season. From June 15 to August 5, 2018, he will also be in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at Park Square Theatre.


ALSO, YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR EDUCATION PROGRAM (including upcoming productions of A Raisin in the Sun and The Pirates of PenzanceHERE

Ricardo Beaird Turns 360 Degrees

In DOT, Ricardo Beaird plays Donnie, the middle child and only son in the Shealy family who returns home for Christmas with his partner, Adam. There, he falls back into old family dynamics but also must reckon with new family challenges–namely, matriarch Dotty’s steady decline due to  Alzheimer’s disease.

Upon first reading the script, Ricardo had envisioned Donnie as a flamboyant and vocal person, but his take on the character changed 360 degrees once into rehearsals. Caught between bossy older sister Shelly and outspoken younger sister Averie, and raised by the no-nonsense Dotty, Donnie fittingly became, for Ricardo, “a more subdued and careful person and the more logical man of this family of huge personalities.”

In playing a member of such a family, Ricardo must face two major challenges:

“Playwright Colman Domingo is such a wordsmith. He allows the language to sound real and natural. So we talk over each other a lot, and it’s hard for actors to speak over each other. What part will be most important for the audience to hear?

Ricardo Beaird as Donnie and Yvette Ganier as older sister Shelly in DOT
(Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)

I’m also in these monster scenes that suddenly switch from comedy to drama. It happens so fast, on the turn of a dime. My focus will be to do them as honestly as I can.”

The culmination of all the hard work will be what Ricardo describes as the exhilaration of “giving the audience the experience of going home for Christmas,” with all its hype and pure joy and sadness. Also refreshing to Ricardo is that, although DOT is about an African American family, it isn’t about the hardship of being black. Instead, it tells a universal story about how Alzheimer’s disease affects families. Seeing a play that starts a conversation around this important but often unspoken topic may just be the gift that someone needs.


Tickets and information here


Michael Hanna in a Play with Heart

In Park Square Theatre’s production of DOT, Michael Hanna plays Adam, partner of Richard Beaird’s character, Donnie Shealy. This puts him squarely into the Shealy family dynamics as he accompanies Donnie to matriarch Dot’s home for their Christmas gathering. Not only must Adam and Donnie navigate their own relationship but also face Dot’s decline into Alzheimer’s disease.

Recently, Michael answered questions posed to him about being in DOT and a bit about himself, too:

1. What were your personal ideas as to how you’d approach your character in Dot before rehearsals, and how did they evolve in the rehearsal process?

I think there’s a beautiful fluidity to Adam; he’s very adaptable. He seems to roll with the punches, which is essential in the Shealy family. As rehearsal continued, I started to realize how interwoven he is into the family dynamic. And while he might not have the same amount of history as the siblings and Dot have, because of his love for Donnie, he has a tremendous amount at stake.

2. Often I will seek an interview with cast of plays before the rehearsal process begins. Some do not like to be interviewed until rehearsals have begun, but others do not mind. Your response was that interviewing for a show before rehearsals usually “hasn’t been terribly fruitful.” But in my experience as an interviewer, that actually has not been the case.  How did your opinion from the actor’s side form as a result of what you’ve experienced throughout your career?

I think the reason I say that is because, for me, the way a character jumps off the page when you first read a play is only 25% of the equation of playing the character. I imagine the cast as the colors on a palette: if any of those colors are changed, while the shape of what you’re creating may remain the same, the hue of it will be drastically different. It’s when I get into the room and realize the other actors who I’ll be playing with that I realize how to approach the play. Some of my original instincts get thrown out or recycled into something new. For me, the Adam I’m playing is hopefully one that is based very much off of what Ricardo as Donnie is bringing to the table and informed by every other interaction.

L to R: Michael Hanna (Adam), Ricardo Beaird (Donnie), Maxwell Collyard (Fidel) and Yvette Garnier (Shelly)
(Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)

3. Why do you want to play Adam?

He’s smart, expressive and charmingly flawed. It’s fun to play characters that can be both kind and cruel in a single page.

4. What will be the biggest challenge for you in this role?

This play has a huge heart! Playwright Colman Domingo has tapped into that quality of messy love that I think most families create. Finding ways to access the love of this play, of this character, while also realizing that this family rarely holds back with each other, is one of the bigger challenges. If the underlying love doesn’t come across, even when Adam might want to strangle one of the other characters, I think I’d be missing the mark. It’s a fine line to walk, though a fun one!

5. If you were not already in DOT, why would you choose to see it?

Because its about familial love, which I never get tired of exploring.

Because it talks about Alzheimer’s, a disease that is attached to an unhealthy stigma. We need to discuss this disease and all of the people it affects, both directly and indirectly.

Michael Hanna as Romeo, and Christian Bardin as Juliet 
(Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)

6. As an usher for student matinees, I’ve seen you play Romeo in Park Square’s Romeo & Juliet over and over again, but a real highlight is watching the actors then come out to talk to the students. What would you say to someone who wants to pursue acting as a career?

The beautiful thing about being an actor is that it pulls from your entire life. I don’t think it’s healthy to get too myopic about being a performer. Go out and develop other interests. Study how the world works with as little judgement as possible. Your regular and creative life will thank you.


Tickets and more information for DOT here

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas


Cynthia Jones-Taylor (member, actors’ equity association) photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

Park Square Theatre’s holiday production, DOT, features the hopeful but melancholy tune “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” The song aptly fits the play, which portrays a family coming to grips with matriarch Dot Shealy’s steady memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease. DOT is a comedy/drama filled with both hilariously funny and touchingly bittersweet moments.

The song “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” was first introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 musical Meet Me in St. Louis. As big sister Esther, she sings it on Christmas Eve to cheer up her five-year-old sister, Tootie, who is distraught by their family’s impending move from their beloved home in St. Louis, Missouri, to New York City.

Although songwriting team Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane shared credit for writing the song, Hugh may have actually penned it alone. He was asked to make the lyrics more uplifting several times, resulting in this final version, which is slightly different than the one sung by Judy Garland:


Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

From now on, our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Make the Yuletide gay

From now on, our troubles will be miles away

 Here we are as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Gather near to us once more

 Through the years we all will be together

If the Fates allow

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough

And have yourself a merry little Christmas now


According to Ricardo Beaird who plays Dot’s son, Donnie, the moment in the show when he plays the melody on the piano makes him weep. Like Christmastime itself, the Shealy family gathering is a joyful but wistful affair. With Kleenex tucked into pockets, come ready to laugh but also be prepared to cry.

And have yourself a very special time!


Ticket and other information here



 “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” @

 “The history of a popular holiday song” by Chris Willman (January 8, 2007) @

 “Judy Garland, ‘Have a Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Jim Beviglia (December 18, 2016) @


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