Actor John Astin, a visiting professor of dramatic arts in the Writing Seminars, will present his one-man show, Edgar Allan Poe--Once Upon a Midnight, on Friday, April 20, on the Homewood campus. The 8 p.m. performance in Shriver Hall celebrates the official opening of Homewood's new student arts center, which will be named and dedicated earlier that day.
Astin, who is currently teaching three undergraduate classes in acting and directing, is the first of what the university hopes will be many distinguished actors, directors and playwrights in residence at the student arts center in the coming years.
Proceeds from the performance will go to the Writing Seminars' Graduate Fellowship Fund.
The actor's stay at Hopkins is a return appearance. He is a 1952 graduate who holds a degree in drama from the Department of Writing, Speech and Drama, the predecessor of the Writing Seminars. After receiving his degree, the Baltimore-born Astin, who grew up in Washington, D.C., did graduate work in English literature at the University of Minnesota.
Astin has performed Edgar Allan Poe--Once Upon a Midnight to critical acclaim and enthusiastic audiences in more than 50 cities in the United States and in Australia. This summer, he will take the play to festivals in Europe. This is his fourth tour of the play, written by Paul Day Clemens and Ron Magid and directed by Alan Bergmann, which he hopes will help to deepen interest in Poe's brilliance and versatility.
"I feel that Poe, through his own tortured existence, gained deep insight into the nature of the universe, along with an intense love and appreciation for life itself," Astin said recently. "Through this play, I want to share that impression with others."
Astin is, of course, best known as Gomez Addams, the lovable, slightly crazed patriarch of the Addams Family series that appeared on television from 1964 to 1966. Gomez remains one of his favorite TV characterizations, along with Buddy Ryan in Night Court and the title role in Evil Roy Slade.
Among Astin's many films are West Side Story, That Touch of Mink with Doris Day and Cary Grant, European Vacation and Gremlins II.
Astin received an Academy Award nomination for Prelude, a short film he wrote, produced and directed, was nominated for an Ace Award for his work on Tales from the Crypt and received an Emmy nomination as the voice of Gomez on ABC-TV's The Addams Family cartoon. He served for four years on the board of directors of the Writers Guild of America West and is active in community affairs in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife, Valerie. He has five sons and a 4-year-old granddaughter.
Tickets are $20, $10 for students. For information, call Crystal Hooper at 410-516-8209; Hopkins alumni should call 410-516-5185.