With the current theatre world on hiatus, I have created a Spotlight Series featuring interviews with talented artists who make our local theatre community so exciting and vibrant thanks to their ongoing contribution to keeping the Arts alive in the City of the Angels. This Spotlight focuses on Cindy and Perry Shields who met in 1980 and have been entertaining audiences around Los Angeles and the South Bay for over 40 years!
Perry Shields discovered acting in Kindergarten when he realized how much he enjoyed performing magic tricks for an audience. He continued to read books to other students, then finally, in seventh grade, he played Santa Claus in a Christmas play and was hooked. Since performing all four years during high school, Perry has been involved in over 100 productions in the capacity of actor, director, and musician. And for the past 11 years, he has been an MC at every “Monsterpalooza” event in Burbank and Pasadena.
His wife Cindy remembers that as a kid who was frequently sick, she spent way too much time watching TV during the glory days of The Hollywood Palace, holiday specials, variety shows, The Carol Burnett Show, The Honeymooners, The Dean Martin Show, and the beloved Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. In her sophomore year of high school, Cindy put her shyness and fear aside and auditioned for their Spring Show, “No, No, Nanette” and was actually cast as a dancer! And that was it — she too was hooked on performing for an audience and has been a (mostly musical) theatre geek ever since.
After a lot of encouragement, Cindy took stand-up classes and has been on that exciting journey performing stand-up the past eight years, which led to her getting noticed by an agent in 2015. She is happily doing a few commercials while regularly performing stand-up at Flappers Comedy Club and at other locations around LA and Orange Counties. She shares, “it’s not a life I ever saw coming but I love it – although I truly MISS the joy of working with an ensemble in a show.”
Perry had just completed performing in ‘Pick of the Vine’ at Little Fish in San Pedro, which closed mid-February just before the shutdown happened. The other theatre company in which he is involved as V.P. of the “Friends Of” organization, the Torrance Theatre Company, was about to open ‘Good People,’ the fourth show of their season when word came on Friday, March 13th that Saturday’s opening, and subsequent run, was cancelled. The same thing happened to Cindy who had a headlining gig at Flappers that weekend which was cancelled.
But in the midst of all this, Cindy shares, “we sadly lost Perry’s sister, my dear sis-in-love (sic), so her illness and passing and her precious daughters were our focus. Our dear younger niece moved in with us (hate the circumstances but LOVE having her with us) and so our world turned upside down for a few reasons, and our faith continues to see us through it all. It’s getting better because I get little ideas for material here and there – like sweet little blooms brightening up Spring right now. You have to remember to appreciate the little things in life and not worry about the big things all the time.”
Perry is staying involved at Little Fish with its “Virtual Theatre” initiative where members are invited to share performance art or any artistic endeavor online. “Our daughter Kimmy, niece Lana, and I have created several stop-motion pieces, the longest of which was posted by Little Fish. It’s a short film called You and Eye.’ More info at littlefishtheatre.org
Lastly, Cindy shares, “Theatre has been a precious and powerful presence in our lives for over 40 years, and to share this passion with our dear children Craig and Kimmy onstage has been such a gift. And artists can only go for so long before they have to create — and that’s a beautiful thing!” For these two (and me), theaters can’t re-open soon enough and we hope all postponed shows will return as soon as it is feasibly possible.