by Lorie Lewis Ham
Once again, we are pointing the spotlight on one of the Valley’s many talented actors. This time we are profiling Fresno actor Brian Pucheu, whom we recently had the pleasure of seeing on stage at COS as Jekyll & Hyde.
Brian was born and raised in Tranquility, which is roughly 40 miles from Fresno, and spent many of his early years working on the family farm. He didn’t discover acting until his second semester of college at West Hills Community College in Coalinga. “My roommate was in their production of Calamity Jane and said they needed someone to fill in,” said Brian. “I ended up playing ‘Doc’ and had a blast, so I kept coming back.”
“In Calamity Jane we used a blank firing gun in a bar fight scene that was supposed to startle us out of the brawl,” continued Brian. “However, one night during the fight, I hear a “click,” we kept fighting… another “click,” still fighting but some of us are starting to wonder what’s going on. Yet another “click,” by now we were clumsily trying to ad-lib a fight and several us were looking in the direction of were the shot was supposed to come from. The gentleman playing Millie (the bar owner) suddenly screamed “BANG!” and we hit the deck to the hysterical roar of the audience. That’s kind of the moment I fell in love with theater. Anything can happen.”
Since then Brian, a lyric baritone, has played quite the variety of roles with various local theatre companies. These rolls include Frank Butler in Annie Get Your Gun, Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone, Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Jekyll and Hyde, Riff Raff in Rocky Horror, and Roger in Rent. Also, ten years after his first time in Calamity Jane, he performed it again, this time with Good Company Players playing Wild Bill Hickock.
“Brian brings an incredible amount of passion and natural charisma to every role he plays,” said Chris Mangels, who worked with Brian on Phantom and Jekyll & Hyde as fight choreographer, scenic designer, and one of the producers of the show. “We are always excited to have him on stage at COS.”
Brian said that his favorite type of show is one in which he dances very little. “I don’t really have a favorite style. Every show is different, and I revel in the diversity of roles I’ve had the opportunity to play.”
Fortunate to have already played many of his dream roles, some others he would love to play include John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, Dr. Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein, and Sweeney in Sweeney Todd.
What Brian likes best about acting is the people. “On stage, back stage, and in front of us. Seeing this amazing confluence of technical skill, design, concept, art, combined with performance dedication and talent given by individuals, many of whom have become life long friends. All of this coming together to make someone’s night, for just a couple hours, joyous and unforgettable.”
“Brian is one of the best people to do a show with,” shared local actor Terry Lewis. “Not only is he fun to be around, but he brings his ‘A Game’ to every rehearsal and performance. He inspires the people around him to do their best as well. He’s incredibly talented, hard working, and one hell of a good-looking guy. I tease him that sometimes he’s prettier than his leading ladies. He’s one of my best friends, and I’m hoping we get to share the stage again soon!”
“Brian is such a great actor to work with,” stated another local actor, Bryce Moser, who was in Rocky Horror with Brian last year. “During Rocky Horror Picture Show, it was so easy to have a give and take relationship with him. Which is pretty much what you want with any fellow cast member.”
The most heartbreaking moments for Brian as an actor are when he either is in or sees a beautiful show that just isn’t getting the audience it deserves.
As to what has helped him grow the most as an actor, Brian stated that it is the people around him. “From finding a fantastic vocal coach that I’ve been with for six years, the many different directors that gave me a chance and took the time to work with me, and the theater community, as a whole, supporting one another.”
“Brian is one of the most versatile performers I know,” stated Brent Moser, who directed Brian in Beauty and the Beast for CenterStage in 2009. “His physicality is what sets him apart from many actors with his skill set. I love directing him because he is fearless and willing to take any risk to make his character the best it can be.”“One of my favorite people and a talented hardworking actor who makes it seem simple,” said local director and Cali Pub Theatre artistic director S. Eric Day, who directed Brian in Rent last year.
Brian’s advice to others wishing to pursue acting is to observe everything, work hard and prepare, never stop auditioning and be humble.
So far, he hasn’t found balancing work and theatre difficult. For the past three years he has worked in the scene shop for Good Company Players. “Luckily I have a job that is very understanding of the hard work and long hours that go into rehearsal. My work has been quite helpful in letting me work a couple extra hours here and there to make up for hours lost when show conflicts come up.”
In his free time, Brian enjoys video games, exercise, and remodeling his house. He credits his family and friends for all he has been able to achieve thus far. “All of the work I’ve done, all of my achievements and roles I’ve played, would never have been possible, and would never have mattered, without my friends and family’s relentless love and support.”
As to the future, he is currently planning a trip across the country, visiting friends and auditioning–pretty much acting his way across the country. “I have friends in LA, Seattle, Nashville, and New York. Those-in no particular order-will be the first places I go.”