When we first meet Michael in Richard Dresser’s heartwarming comedy Rounding Third, he doesn’t seem to be the kind of coach to lead a team to victory. He’s constantly late, tripping over equipment, and insisting that fun is more important than winning. He’s very clearly a novice at this whole Little League thing.
Timothy C. Goodwin, on the other hand, is no novice. Not only does he have previous experience with Little League baseball, but he has been a professional actor for decades. He has appeared at theatres all over the country and starred in over ten productions of Shear Madness, including the original Off-Broadway run and in FST’s hit 2011 production.
We sat down with Goodwin learn more about his process for “finding” Michael and how his own experience with Little League baseball prepared him for life as a professional actor.
How would you describe your character, Michael? What do you find to be compelling or interesting about him?
I think Michael is an interesting character because he’s trying to find his way through a personal tragedy. He’s just beginning to find a way to take care of himself after this loss, and he understands that both he and his son need to move forward via new experiences together, so they sign up for the local Little League, despite neither of them having any experience.
Tell us more about your process for getting into character. How do you “find” Michael?
At the beginning of my acting career, I had always hoped that I wouldn’t have to “get into character.” An actress in the first show I ever did would goof around backstage and then— BOOM—right into character as she walked onstage, word-perfect, owning her scenes, and I thought, “that was soooo cool. What talent! I want to be like that.”
I am not like that. I tend to find the character in the script, which ends up giving a lot away via the dialogue. A lot of the fun in acting, for me though, is collaborating with a director (and other cast members) who bring different perspectives or readings of the character. Trying out all these ideas about how to best pretend to be someone else is a hoot.
Michael and his co-coach, Don, have an…interesting relationship, to say the least. What is it about this relationship that makes it so oddly meaningful?
I think it’s the meeting point for two different perspectives, and it happens all the time. Our work relationships, primarily, are a bunch of people randomly collected together who are, in a way, trying to attain a goal.
In this instance, of course, Don and Michael have different goals. While, on the surface, those goals are at loggerheads, once we find out what drives these two guys we can see that, maybe, that jerk in Accounting that we have to see every day might be a jerk for good reason.
You and co-star Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper bring the relationship between Michael and Don to life so wonderfully. How did you two develop that rapport throughout rehearsals?
Honestly? I just think it’s luck. A lot of times, you do a show, and the cast is great, everyone laughs at everyone’s jokes, the show ends, and you go back home happy with a few pictures for some future Throwback Thursday posts on social media.
But every now and then, you get to have a new friendship with someone like Nicholas, and it makes the process so easy. While we didn’t know each other before meeting for this show, we started joking around together the moment we landed in Sarasota. I could say it’s because we’re both around the same age, or that we have similar backgrounds, but our personalities just clicked. But none of that really holds water. Plus, we have a great team working on Rounding Third and in the end, that’s how you develop those work relationships that become new friends.
How does Rounding Third connect with you as someone who used to play baseball? How does it connect with you as a professional actor who has surely faced competition?
I played baseball in high school. I was very, very, very bad. I didn’t want to look like a complete moron in front of everyone, so I merely stood there in the batter’s box with an impressive stance (that I practiced more than any other game-based skill). I didn’t swing the bat for my first two years, for fear of whiffing and being laughed at like some rank amateur. So I just stood there. And got struck out.
But then, I finally tried swinging, and while I didn’t suddenly become the world’s greatest ball player, it taught me that, sometimes you just need to swing the bat and see what happens.
And it’s the same in acting. A lot of times I’m just wondering what the heck I’m doing. I think, “I shouldn’t be at this audition,” or “I shouldn’t try this on stage.” Then I remember. You gotta swing that bat.
Rounding Third by Richard Dresser is now playing in FST’s Gompertz Theatre through August 29, 2021. For tickets or more information, click here.