2016-03-18 / Opinion

A Life Well Played


David Treadwell David Treadwell Some people take years, even decades, to find their true passion, the magic that gives their lives meaning. Some people, alas, never do.

New York actor David Arthur Bachrach is one of the lucky ones. A Brunswick native, Bachrach played the role of Hansel as a first-grader at Coffin Elementary School. Shy by nature, David loved the applause. He was hooked. And he’s been on stage ever since.

Over the past 58 years, Bachrach has acted in hundreds of plays before tens of thousands of people. A consummate professional, he gives his all to every part, no matter the site of the play or the size of the audience. That’s who he is; that’s what he does.

David acted in many plays at Brunswick high school, often landing the lead role: e.g. “The Teahouse of the August Moon,” “I Remember Mama,” “The Miracle Worker” and “Brigadoon.” He also played juvenile roles in Masque and Gown plays at Bowdoin.

He then went on to Harvard where he majored in English, acted in numerous plays, sang for the Memorial Church Choir and with I Dillentanti, a vocal septet.

After Harvard, he attended the Boston Conservatory of Music Opera Theater where he sang many roles in operatic works featuring the music of Mozart.

He proceeded on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he earned a masters in voice and acted in theatrical productions.

In 1980 David decided it was, as he says, “high time I moved to New York.” He auditioned for many plays, a daunting task given that some 30,000 actors live in NYC, according to estimates. He also studied at the New Actors Workshop and the Esper Studio. “There is no career path in show biz,” he notes.

David’s first good break was landing a spot with the American Shakespeare Repertory for which he was cast in 24 different productions over three years. “It was total immersion,” he says, “and I remain friends to this day with some of the people from that Repertory.”

David’s web site (davidarthurbachrach.com) gives a sense of the range and depth of his theatrical experiences. He admits, however, that he’s not great about keeping his web site up to date. Moreover, the site doesn’t note that he’s worked as a radio announcer, church musician and opera singer. Or that he’s led a jazz quartet and performed as part of a jazz cabaret in Europe.

David has worked many temporary jobs to help cover living expenses, in everything from accounting to Wall Street finance.

In his spare time, David enjoys ballroom dancing, rollerblading, tending his garden and seeing his friends perform. Bikram yoga several times a week keeps him limber.

Looking back over his life, David has few regrets. One of them concerns a missed opportunity when he was in sixth grade. “I landed a part in “The Sound of Music” for the Brunswick Music Theater, which is now the Maine State Music Theater. My mother discouraged me from taking the part so I didn’t do it. I wasn’t old enough to push back.”

David also regrets that he has not been a better self-marketer. “I’m not a good schmoozer,” he admits. “I’ve left it all on stage, preferring to let my work speak for itself.”

As he’s gotten older, David has found it easier to land good roles. “There are fewer older guys around,” he says, “and even fewer who are good actors with long stage experience.”

As to advice for young actors, David says, “Focus on your strengths, on what pushes your button, on the thing you love most. That’s probably what you’ll do best.”

Good advice on any stage, for any life.

(Note: I first met David in 1970 when I was the advisor to the youth group at the First Parish Congregational Church. I foresaw for him a fascinating future, given his energy and intelligence. My intuition proved sound.)


David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns at dtreadw575@aol.com.

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