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Actor leads fund-raising for theater
Professional actor and Mason City native Randy Powell (left) and Gary Ewing, Mason City Community Theatre executive director, discuss plans for remodeling the old Decker building into a new home for the MCCT. JEFF HEINZ/The Globe Gazette

MASON CITY — The Mason City Community Theatre was one of the places where Hollywood actor Randy Powell got this start.

Now the Mason City native has taken on a new role: honorary chairman for the fund-raising campaign to convert the former Decker Sporting Goods building into a new home for MCCT.

"It's the least I could do to give back to the place where I started," he said.

Powell, 55, was in plays in junior high and high school before landing the role of Tommy Djilas in a MCCT production of "The Music Man" in 1968 at age 17.

After graduating from high school, Powell went to the University of Denver, where he was in the theater program.

After doing summer stock on Cape Cod and in Illinois, he headed for Hollywood in 1974.

He made guest appearances on TV shows such as "Love Boat," "Fantasy Island" "T.J. Hooker" and "Riptide," and was a regular on the sci-fi series "Logan's Run."

On "Dallas," he played J.R. Ewing's attorney, Alan Beam, a character who "gave lawyers a bad name," he said.

The stint only lasted from 1979 to 1980, but it was during the period when "we all shot J.R.," Powell said, referring to the famous whodunit where nearly every character on the show was a suspect.

But Powell said his most interesting experience was being in the play, "Waiting for Godot," while he was in college. The cast rehearsed seven months for just three performances.

Powell's character only had one line, but it went on for four pages with no punctuation.

The play could be interpreted on many levels, so as an acting experience it was "pretty deep," Powell said.

Powell and his wife, Jacqueline Epps-Powell, live in Santa Monica. They have two teen-aged children.

Powell is in Mason City for a week-long visit. His parents, Robert and Mary Powell, still live in town, as does his sister, Anne Brown.

These days, Powell is doing commercials and voice-over work.

He said it is important for young people to know that a career in acting "can happen to you if you have the talent and want to pursue it."

Sometimes aspiring actors "get centered on the fame and forget about the craft," he said. However, the fame is the negative part of the equation because it tends to distract from the work, he added.

Powell has come back to Mason City several times to work with youth in Stebens Children's Theatre.

"It's fun and also great to share a little bit with the community," he said.

Reach Mary Pieper at 421-0578 or mary.pieper@globegazette.com.

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