Eric Altheide, assistant professor of theatre, made his New Harmony Theatre directorial debut last season with The 39 Steps. This season, which happens to be the 25th at New Harmony Theatre, he traded directing for a role on stage in the 2012 summer season production of The Retreat from Moscow, directed by Elliot Wasserman, professor of theatre and chair of the Performing Arts Department.
“Directing and acting appeal to me each in their own way,” Altheide said. “I enjoy directing, especially my students at USI because I like shaping the whole production and using the talents of everyone involved to tell the story of the play. However, I find that the thing I miss the most from acting is that interaction with the audience. As a director, you get to witness the reaction of the audience, but you do not have that direct relationship with them that you have as an actor. Most of my training has been in performance and though I hope I will continue to direct frequently both at USI and New Harmony, I think I will always consider myself to be an actor first.”
In The Retreat from Moscow, Altheide plays Jamie, the son of Alice and Edward (played by fellow Actors’ Equity Association members Gloria Biegler and Kip Niven), an estranged couple in a power struggle for sympathy and understanding from their son, who finds his parents behaving worse by the day. Read more about the play in the Evansville Courier and Press.
Altheide has worked on stage in New York and across the country. Some of his theatre credits include: Guildenstern in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at Westport Playhouse, Davey in the world premiere of Fixed at the Hangar Theatre, Hal in the regional premiere of Proof at the Georgestreet Playhouse, Jack in Moonchild at FringeNYC 2004, and the Nazi Guard in Summit Conference Off-Broadway. His television and film credits include All My Children and The Producers: The Movie Musical.
Altheide and his wife Kendra returned to Evansville to be closer to family and start their own. “I was fairly successful in my first years out of NYU's Graduate Acting Program, but the work I was getting was always taking me away from New York, often for months at a time,” he said. “I wanted to break more in to film and television, which we would afford me more time at home, but I was not quite the right type yet; my abilities made me more desirable once I reached my mid-thirties.
“Since I had worked at several theatres in the Midwest, I made the move home, hoping to continue working in theatre here while waiting for me to come in to my age for film and television. It ended up being harder than I thought, mainly because as a union actor, there are not a lot of opportunities here. After working in a few different fields, I found my way back through teaching at USI. That and the opportunities at New Harmony have given me more of a sense of having an artistic home, but I still hope to begin working elsewhere occasionally as well.”
His directing credits include Of Mice and Men and RENT with USI Theatre and - in addition to The 39 Steps - Pride and Prejudice and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with New Harmony Theatre. RENT was selected as a participating production at the Region Three American College Theatre Festival presented by the Kennedy Center and was given national recognition as a Distinguished Production of a Musical and Distinguished Direction of a Musical.
Altheide is a member of the Actors' Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild. A Castle High School graduate, he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Evansville and his Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University’s Graduate Acting Program.
He and Kendra reside in Newburgh with their son Owen.
The Retreat from Moscow, by William Nicholson, will run July 6-8 and July 13-15. Tickets are on sale now. All evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. and matinees begin at 2 p.m. The New Harmony Theatre’s 25th anniversary season will draw to a close with the musical comedy Pete ‘N’ Keely, by James Hindman, with original music by Patrick Brady and lyrics by Mark Waldrop, playing July 20-22, July 27-29, and August 3-5.
Individual adult tickets are $22 for The Retreat from Moscow and $29 for Pete ‘N’ Keely. Discounted tickets are available for students and seniors.
The New Harmony Theatre is a professional Equity theatre produced by USI and is the Tri-state's only professional Equity theatre. Plays are performed in the historic Murphy Auditorium located at 419 Tavern Street in New Harmony. For more information, or to make a purchase, visit www.newharmonytheatre.com or call the box office at 812/682-3115 or toll free 877/NHT-SHOW.