Robert Muzzy, known in Bellingham's theater community simply as Muzzy, came to the Northwest in 1972 and settled in Skagit Valley. In 1984 he went to work for Whatcom Transportation Authority, where he's responsible for safety, security and emergency preparedness.
By night (and for matinees), Muzzy can be found on his stage of choice for the season. He's a regular with the "Bellingham Bean" Chuckanut Radio Players (a skit ensemble for Village Books' Chuckanut Radio Hour); he's a player, director and board member of the Midnight Mystery Players (a radio show on SPARK Museum's KMRE 102.3); and recently was with "What About Those Promises?," produced in conjunction with Lummi Nation.
Fittingly, he was born and raised in Hollywood, and worked at Disneyland the better part of a summer while in high school.
He's currently in Bellingham Theatre Guild's production of Neil Simon's "The Prisoner of Second Avenue," which opens Friday, Sept. 27, and runs through Oct. 13.
Question: What brought you to Whatcom County?
Answer: I was playing music (in Skagit Valley) with the legendary Rick Epting and Jon Parry when a friend asked if I wanted to go to Bellingham and meet "the belly dancers." I met my wife, Shelley, and I moved north where we began the Bou-Saada Dance Troupe.
Q: When did you realize you have a proclivity for being onstage?
A: I've always loved performing. My mother was my first role model. She and her brothers and sisters were in the original Little Rascals in Hollywood. When she was a teenager she had roles in several Cecil B. DeMille movies.
In the '40s she married my father and left acting. That's what women did at that time, but I grew up around show business.
Q: Who were some of your inspirations?
A: As a youngster I went to the silent movie theater down on Fairfax in Los Angeles. You could see movies all day for 10 cents, all the greats. Laurel and Hardy and Harold Lloyd were early influences. I loved early television and adventure movies.
After high school I shipped out as a merchant seaman on a tramp steamer and went around the world a few times. I have a brother and sister who both act. When I came home, it seemed natural to start performing. I guess it's in my blood.
Q: What have been some of the high points of your onstage life?
A: Ten years on the road with the Bou-Saada Dance Troupe; on stage with Teo Morca in both the Morca Academy's "Nutcracker" and as a tap dancer; seven years on "The Corner Garden" TV show (Whatcom County's own original gardening program produced by Suzanne Blais); Western Washington University Summer Stock playing Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," a role I was fortunate enough reprise at the Bellingham Theatre Guild; several Gilbert and Sullivan operettas with Friends of Fairhaven at WWU, directed by David Mason; nine years playing Herr Drosselmeyer in the "Nutcracker" at Pacific Dance Company, directed by our daughter, Eleise Kerman; and Bellingham Theatre Guild, with numerous roles and as a recently appointed board member.
Q: What's "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" about?
A: It's sort of a dark comedy by Neil Simon, first performed on Broadway in 1971. It still resonates today. The main character loses his job and has a nervous breakdown. It has humor, pathos and all the elements of the human condition. Alan Peet directs a stellar cast and crew, of which I am proud to be a part.
Q: Since you're now on the board, what's cool about Bellingham Theatre Guild?
A: The guild celebrates 85 years of continuous live theater in our community this year. It is said this is one of the oldest continuously performing community theater groups west of the Mississippi.
The theater guild is an all-volunteer organization. Readers should consider seeing all the plays at the guild playhouse, as well as getting involved either in acting or in a supporting capacity. Community volunteers are always welcomed and encouraged.
Q: What are your thoughts about Bellingham's artistic community?
A: I feel blessed to have had so many opportunities as a performing artist in such a supportive community. Whatcom County is home to an extraordinary number of fine artists in so many different disciplines, and I thank all the people I've worked with in the past and present for allowing me to be included.