Howard Green is in his 20th year of doing theater in Birmingham, and his latest role is starring in “Catch Me if You Can,” which opens Thursday at Homewood Theatre. Green, who three years ago retired from working for Birmingham Southern Railroad, took the time during rehearsals to answer some questions about his introduction to theater, the friends he’s made along the way, and what might be coming next.
Tell me about you. Where did grow up? Go to school?
Born and raised in Pinson. Graduate of Pinson Valley High School in 1978
Did you do theater in school? How did theater start for you?
Theater never interested me in school. In fact, my girlfriend asked if I was going to audition for our senior play and I laughed at the thought of it! Many years later, after my divorce, I was kinda lost, looking for something to help me move forward. A dear friend encouraged me to audition for the LJCC’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. After laughing (again) at the thought
of it, I decided to give it a try. And I was hooked from that point!
Tell me about the railroad. Who did you work for, and what did you do? When did you retire?
I worked as a systems analyst for a local truck equipment company for a few years after high school but left there in 1988 for the railroad. I worked for Birmingham Southern Railroad, owned by U.S. Steel in Fairfield for over 100 years. I started in what’s called the storehouse as a clerk. Then I worked in payroll for a few years, then marketing, then returned as the storekeeper, where I finished up my 32 years. My last couple of years, I was in charge of locomotive purchasing for around 200 yards nationally. I loved every day and every department I worked in. I decided to retire June 1, 2020, after turning 60.
How long have you been doing theater?
My first production was 2003. And I just realized that was 20 years ago. Wow!
Do you remember your first production in Birmingham? Can you tell me about it?
The LJCC’s production of “Joseph.” Kim Hutchens and her husband, Brent, who I’ve gone to church with for 30 years, had been cast as the leads, and Brent encouraged me to audition. Looking back, it was a great cast and a really good production. I had the small part of the Butler and loved it.
What are some of the other shows you’ve done? Which theaters have you worked with?
I’ve been so fortunate to work with just about every theater in town. Some of my favorites are “The Music Man,” which I’ve done three times, “Sisters of Swing” and “42nd Street” for Red Mountain, “Grey Gardens” for the Dane Peterson Series, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” and “Gypsy” for the Virginia Samford Theatre. And I guess my favorite (still) is the LJCC’s production of “My Favorite Year.” It was a great show with a great cast, and I met my best friend Shawn Reese in the process!
So, this isn’t THAT “Catch Me If You Can.” Tell me about this version and your character.
That’s right! This version was written by Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert. It’s a “whodunit,” a murder mystery. Danny Corban is a newlywed and has borrowed his boss’ mountain chalet for the honeymoon. His wife has gone missing and the quest for her whereabouts ensues. I play Danny Corban.
Who else is in the cast, and has it been a fun process?
It’s a really fun cast. Lori Mercer, Jesse Byron, Virginia Barr, David Gauntt and Suzy Conerly all help the inspector figure out what’s going on. The inspector is played by the always amazing David Coker, another close friend for 20 years. Kyle Bass is directing and always makes the process fun.
What’s your history with Homewood Theatre?
My first show was “Barefoot In the Park” back in 2018. This will be my 10th show for Homewood! It’s always a great experience because it starts at the top. And that is Kyle Bass. From the first cast meeting, read through, all the rehearsals and performances, he leads with a laid-back style, guides with a gentle hand and makes sure the actors have everything they need to be successful.
What’s next for you? Do you have another show lined up?
I have my eye on a couple of projects early in 2024, but nothing definite yet.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve been so blessed to work steadily in the Birmingham theater scene – some extremely good productions and some I’d be happy to forget. But the one constant is I’ve made some terrific friends along the way. I’m a blessed man indeed.
“Catch Me if You Can,” at Homewood Theatre Oct. 19-29. Go here for tickets.