A fun-filled way to benefit technology for the Weston Public Library is coming to town.
Westonite Charles Keating, his wife Mary, and sons Sean and Jamie are performing in A Cabaret Evening, a celebration of Irish and British music hall songs, poetry, stories and surprises, on Saturday, May 5, at 7 in the Community Room at the library.
The evening will also feature a special guest appearance by renowned character actor James Cromwell.
The event is sponsored by The Friends of the Weston Public Library and proceeds will benefit technology and the purchase of audio e-book readers for the library.
A group of talented actors and musicians, the Keatings often perform together at gatherings and functions.
The group’s patriarch, Charles Keating, is a renowned British actor of stage and screen, widely known for his portrayal of reformed villain Carl Hutchins on the soap opera Another World.
He looks forward to sharing a fun cabaret experience with people in Weston.
“We have a lot of good things planned. We’ll perform Irish and British songs and sea chanteys as well as some poetry by the likes of Yeats, and e.e. cummings. Audiences don’t get to hear this material much anymore,” he said.
A close-knit clan, the Keatings embody the phrase “The family that plays together stays together.” Married since 1964, Mary and Charles Keating have two grown sons who have settled nearby: Sean, an artist and landscaper who lives in Wilton, and Jamie, a builder and potter who lives in Bethel. Between the two, the Keatings have six grandchildren.
“When I look back at my life, I’m grateful to be surrounded by my family. I know few others in this business as fortunate as me. The moon’s a harsh mistress,” Mr. Keating said.
The Keatings settled in Weston while Mr. Keating was working on Another World, on which he appeared for about 10 years. After looking at homes in New Canaan and Darien, the couple checked out Weston. “We loved the bucolic atmosphere in Weston — it was just right for us,” Mr. Keating said.
Mr. Keating had great success on Another World, which ended its 35-year run in 1999. He won a daytime Emmy for his portrayal of Carl Hutchins, a mercurial villain who appeared deceptively charming on the outside. His characterization was so convincing that it wasn’t uncommon for Mr. Keating to be accosted and scolded by fans who thought he really was Carl Hutchins.
“That’s the nuances of television. People watch you every day. They call the soap ‘their story’ and they feel they know you,” he said.
A classically trained Shakespearean actor, Mr. Keating frequently discussed the bard on the set of Another World with actor Morgan Freeman, who was also on the show for a time.
Mr. Keating decided to incorporate Shakespeare into Carl Hutchins. “I started sticking in bits of Shakespearean dialogue and poems when leaving a scene to make the character more interesting. The writers were respectful and let me do it,” he said.
The Shakespearean touch became so popular that the writers concocted a fantasy scene in the show from Richard III for Mr. Keating and his co-star Victoria Wyndham. The scene may be viewed online at youtube.com/watch?v=eGJjQvgSqZI.
Because Mr. Keating had a contract with the soap for just one year at a time, his character was killed off several times, but would miraculously be brought back to life again when he re-signed.
Following Another World, he performed on Broadway, at the Cleveland Playhouse, and in a two-person show with Ms. Wyndham.
He also directed theatrical performances in the U.S. and abroad and appeared at college campuses across the country as a guest artist and lecturer.
His booming, resounding voice may be heard on National Public Radio reading short stories in “Selected Shorts.”
And last year, Mr. Keating thrilled the Weston community with his portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge in a stage reading of A Christmas Carol, organized by actor and fellow Westonite Frank Converse.
Mr. Keating is thrilled that his good friend, actor James Cromwell, is coming to Weston to join him in the cabaret performance on Saturday night. The men met in their 20s when they were struggling actors, became good friends and lived together for a time.
Mr. Cromwell has enjoyed a long career as a highly respected actor. He is well-known to audiences for his ability to transform himself in a wide variety of roles.
He played the lovable Farmer Hoggett in Babe (for which he was nominated for an Oscar), a conflicted cop in L.A. Confidential, and eccentric genius scientist Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact.
On television, he’s appeared in many shows including All in the Family as Archie Bunker’s sidekick, Stretch Cunningham, and on Six Feet Under, as George Sibley, earning him his third Emmy nomination in his long career.
“With my friend Jamie on board we are going to have a lot of fun!” Mr. Keating said.
After his most recent performance as the devoted chauffeur Clifton in the Oscar-winning film The Artist, Mr. Cromwell invited Mr. Keating to attend the movie’s premiere. “It was so much fun attending that event with Jamie. It was such a good film,” Mr. Keating said.
Proceeds from A Cabaret Evening will help the Weston Public Library expand its technology collection. “It’s great to bring more of the spoken word into the library through e-readers. I’m proud to support the library,” Mr. Keating said,
Karen Tatarka, library director, said she is looking forward to the evening. “How very grateful we are to Charles, his family, and James Cromwell for donating their time to help us with technology,” she said.
Tickets are $20 pre-purchased at the library or $25 at the door. Admission is strictly limited and advance purchase is highly recommended. Wine and refreshments will be served.