McManus tales as one-man act

Posted: Thursday, May 04, 2000

Young Patrick McManus and his buddy Crazy Eddie wanted to grow up and be mountain men. The only problem was they were afraid of the dark.

Patrick McManus actually grew up to be a writer and immortalized his childhood as a humor columnist for a national outdoor magazine. His boyhood adventures, goofy pals and even goofier mentors came to life in his stories, collected in a series of 10 popular books.

Actor Tim Behrens of Spokane, Wash., brings them to life in a more literal fashion, portraying more than a dozen characters on stage in ``A Fine and Pleasant Misery,'' a fast-paced one-man show. Behrens and McManus, who lives in Idaho, bring the show to Juneau at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium.

``I play 15 or 16 characters, but I don't change costumes, and they're all present at any given time. They actually have conversations with each other. I use my voice and body to change,'' Behrens said. ``Less is more. I try to do a minimum, but make them distinct, so the audience can use their own imagination to fill in the blanks and create the scene.''

He said one story about a camping trip takes place entirely in the dark.

``The only sound is my voice and the audience laughing,'' Behrens said.

When Behrens first met McManus in a creative writing program at the University of Eastern Washington outside Spokane, he was not familiar with McManus' writing. McManus was in his final year of teaching, and he served as Behrens' adviser.

``At the end, he took me aside and said he recommended I give up writing and focus on acting,'' Behrens said, laughing.

Behrens launched a career as a marketing director for a books-on-tape company, and put his acting talents to work recording the books. He and McManus put together one show in McManus' hometown of Sand Point, Idaho, as a one-shot production. It was well-received, and requests came in for more performances. The two developed additional material, and now have four different McManus shows Behrens can perform.

``I have about 12 and a half, 14 hours of McManus material in my head at any given time,'' he said. ``I'm not Bruce Willis, but I'm so thankful to be an actor and making a living doing this.''

McManus is coming to Juneau, and will be signing books from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Hearthside Books in Nugget Mall and from 6:45 p.m. until showtime at JDHS.

``Originally when we began this eight years ago, Pat would come 30 or 40 percent of the time,'' Behrens said. ``Now he only comes 5 percent of the time. You are in for a treat.''

``A Fine and Pleasant Misery'' is sponsored by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors and students, $10 for 12 and under, and $45 for families.

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