FRESNO — Actor Tom Flynn and his two French bulldogs are on a road trip, seeing the American West together in between performances of “Wicked.”
The next stop on the road for Flynn, who has performed more than 3,000 times in the beloved musical, will be Fresno where “Wicked” will run March 20-31 at the Saroyan Theatre.
“I’ll never do it any other way, if I were ever to tour again,” he said, noting that most actors on the tour fly from city to city, while he decided to hit the road in his new car. “It’s really nice to see mountains and it’s a great way to see the country — it’s different than from out of an airplane window.”
Anyone who’s been on a long road trip knows the road can get lonely, but Flynn’s “fur babies,” Harley and Olive,” are there for hi, through every tick of the odometer, he said.
“It really takes the loneliness away,” he said. “That’s the hardest part of being on tour. Even though you’re socializing with your cast members, you’re still very isolated.”
Flynn has performed with “Wicked” on Broadway and with the original San Francisco and Los Angeles companies, but he prefers taking the show on the road than to be anchored in one spot, he said, noting that cast members tend to be a little friendlier on tour and aren’t as likely to treat the production as a job that you can leave at the end of the proverbial day.
“You’re more connected, in a way, because you’re all on the same journey together – literally,” he said.
For Flynn, there's no place like the road.
Flynn recently rejoined “Wicked” after a short hiatus. When the first national tour closed in Los Angeles in the spring of 2015, Flynn headed back home to New York.
“I just lived the life of an actor. I auditioned for a million things and never got any of them – which happens at any stage of an actor’s life,” he said.
After a few years in the Big Apple, Flynn moved back to Los Angeles while dealing a divorce, thinking that if there was ever a good time to get back on the road and tour, that would be it.
He was offered to reprise his role of Doctor Dillamond, the half-goat-half-man that teacher at the school heroines Elphaba and Glinda attend.
The story tells the tale of the magical land of Oz, though not from the usual angle. In “Wicked,” Dorothy and Toto are still in Kansas while the story focuses on the Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West and her good counterpart, Glinda.
“To be part of a show without having to carry show, like the witches do eight times a week, is the perfect amount of time to be on stage,” he said. “It’s an integral character because the audience has a lot of sympathy for him. He’s kind and he’s intelligent and he’s a driving force of the classroom.”
After 3,000 performances as the character, Flynn said that his goal is to make it seem to the audience that every night is his very first night on the job.
In the 11 years since Flynn first donned the floppy ears, horns and hooves of the good doctor, he’s evolved his performance, he said. While at first, he played Dr. Dillamond with as a “stereotypical older character actor part,” but the character, as Flynn embodies it, has become more real over the years, now taking the stage with more power and gravitas, he said.
Flynn, who also appeared in productions of “Dracula” and “Dorian,” based on the Oscar Wilde book about an immortal and immoral man, said he’s attracted to plays about darker characters and anti-heroes.