Sheridan Smith was left with a lot of time on his hands after his best friend Dayle Butterfield died last year.
Determined to fill it with something positive, he started working through his bucket list.
A documentary, This is My Spot, was the first thing he crossed off.
Next, he hopes to go down as one of Bermuda’s favourite pantomime “baddies”. Mr Smith plays the role of Ivan in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Bermuda Musical & Dramatic Society’s Christmas show now on at City Hall.
“It’s my first time on stage. I’ve never even been to a pantomime before,” he said. “I did a bit of acting in elementary school, at Dellwood. I remember it was a musical, a story about King Midas who had donkey’s ears. I was the head barber and had to sing.”
A casting call in The Royal Gazette by the BMDS caught his attention. Mr Smith, who works in the IT department of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, auditioned to be in the chorus.
Something about his performance caught the eye of Stuart Morrison, the show’s writer and director.
“He asked me if I’d ever acted before and then asked me to read a couple of lines,” Mr Smith said.
A couple weeks later he found out he had the part. He was anticipating excitement, rather than nerves, for the show’s opening last night.
“I’m learning new terminology: stage left, stage right, curtain call ... it’s just amazing and it’s been fun. I’ve spoken in front of crowds before — at funerals, at work [events] — although never as many as 300, the theatre’s capacity.”
It’s with that same eagerness he took on his 30-minute documentary This is My Spot, doing the filming, the voiceover and the editing with help from YouTube and courses he found online.
“It’s about May 24. How you can write your name on a public sidewalk and the next day the space is there waiting for you. It’s an amazing thing.”
This is My Spot was six years in the making.
Mr Smith had a positive response after he posted it on YouTube last year. When May 24 rolled around it took on a new life, getting more than 2,000 views.
“I’d lost my best friend last year in November. We spent a lot of time together and I was wondering what I would do with my time,” he said. “I’m 58, getting older. I started doing things I always wanted to do.”
In February, he signed up for a six-day magic course in Las Vegas and has since been to “a couple of conventions”.
He’s also done a couple of shows for family and friends and a smaller display at the BMA’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
As described by BMDS, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs follows the heroine as she makes her way through the enchanted forest to Bermuda.
“Can the young princess find her one true love and escape the evil queen’s wicked plot? Can she find out what it truly takes to become the fairest of them all?
“She just might with the help of her dear friends the seven dwarfs. When the vain wicked queen discovers she is no longer the fairest in the land, she seeks revenge on her beautiful stepdaughter.”
Mr Smith is looking forward to the audience participation that’s typical of pantomimes.
“There’s lots of music, laughter and jokes. Lots of fun,” he said. “It’s very lively, very energetic. I’m the evil queen’s right-hand man and will be singing a song in the Motown style.”
It will be the first time he’s sung in public — apart from karaoke, funerals and at his 1990 wedding to Sharon, when he performed Always and Forever by Heatwave.
“People say I act like I’ve been acting all my life,” said Mr Smith. “I love to sing. I’m always the life of the party. In music class at Warwick Academy I played the trumpet and the piano at home.
“Morgan Freeman started acting very late, maybe I can be like him.”
His son Sheridan, an airplane pilot, is flying in for the show as is Mr Smith’s father Robert, who lives in Las Vegas.
They’ll be joined by family members — including Mr Smith’s son Shaquille — staff at the BMA and “a whole bunch of friends”.
“I want to encourage Bermudians to come out,” Mr Smith said. “Live theatre is fun and they’ll get the chance to see me fall flat on my face or shine like a star — hopefully the latter.
“What’s nice is that each night you can react to the audience participation to a certain extent. You don’t have to follow the script to the letter.”
Rehearsals started in earnest at the beginning of last month. Mr Smith said it’s been interesting to see the teamwork play out.
“It’s very time-consuming, but it’s fun. The cast has been very supportive in helping me out and giving me instruction; the director has also been very helpful.
“Creating a character has been a challenge. He’s a sinister guy, the queen’s henchman and I don’t have an evil bone in my body.”
Next on Mr Smith’s bucket list: becoming a screenwriter, a playwright and a published author.
• Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs through December 14 at 7pm at the Earl Cameron Theatre with 2.30pm matinees on December 7, 8 and 14. There are no evening shows on December 8 or 9. Tickets, $40, are available at ptix.bm and at the City Hall box office one hour before performances. For more information: 292-2313