Nearly 40 years ago, Charles McNeely launched his career at Lake Charles Little Theatre as an actor. This weekend he will come full circle, directing his first play with the group.
"It's been a journey," McNeely said with a laugh. "I started after I saw an ad in the paper for acting classes. I started with that and then got into tech theater with sound and light design and just realized that it was what I wanted to do in life."
He went on to earn his bachelor's in theatre arts from McNeese State University and a master's in acting from the University of New Orleans.
Though this will be his first time directing for Little Theatre, he's in his 25th year teaching with McNeese's Theatre Program.
"I love directing because I like being responsible and a leader, but I also get fulfilment whenever I get a role that I can really sink my teeth into," he said. "It's been a wonderful journey. Through theater I met my wife and we just celebrated our 30th anniversary; theater has really changed my life."
McNeely said he knows firsthand what theater can do for a person.
"I tell people all the time it can help raise their confidence, make them more creative and make them more sensitive to other people because you walk a mile in another person's shoes and you learn how to relate to other people," he said. "I've found that those qualities, no matter what you do in life, will make you better at what you do. I'm lucky enough to be able to teach that."
McNeely said he's been working with Little Theatre on their production of William Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" for about two months.
"We're using Shakespeare's scripts and his words, but normally the play would be over three hours and we've cut it down to the main story. It will be about 2 hours and 15 minutes and that's with an intermission," he said.
McNeely said the play will focus on the courtship of Petruchio and the headstrong Katherina. Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship, but Petruchio manages to "tame" her.
McNeely said the actors will be performing in costumes that depict the time period in which the play was written.
"These costumes are magnificent," he said. "They are movie-quality, extremely elaborate, Renaissance-style costumes."
The play will be performed 7 p.m. Nov. 8-9, Nov. 15-16 and Nov. 22-23 and 2 p.m. Nov. 10, 17 and 24. Tickets are available at www.thelclt.com or by calling 433-7988.