You Didn’t Know About Bill Schnell
Director of Rochester Repertory’s 4,000 Miles spills some secrets
Rochester theater veteran Bill Schnell steps off the stage this month to direct 4,000 Miles—the dramatic comedy debuting at Rochester Repertory Theatre on January 13.
You may recognize Schnell from one of his past performances—he’s acted in 20 plays in Rochester and Mantorville. But we bet you didn’t know these facts …
1. He was the mayor of Munchkin City. Schnell’s first acting role was in Wizard of Oz when he was 17 years old.
2. And it was all for love. “I had a crush on the girl who was playing Dorothy, and I auditioned to be around her,” says Schnell. “But she loved the lion. The wicked witch liked me. She chased me around the cast party with her broom.”
3. He’s a southerner. Schnell was born in Louisville, KY. He came to Rochester in 1982 for a job at Mayo Clinic.
4. He has a favorite actor. And it’s his wife. “My favorite actor to direct or be on stage with is Susie,” he says. “We do a lot of theater together.”
5. He struck inspiration at TGIFridays. Schnell is one of the founding members of Theater du Jour, a Rochester-based comedy troupe. “We made a decision to form this troupe as a joke at a table at Fridays,” says Schnell. Theater du Jour has performed eight shows since its inception in 2006.
6. He holds the secret to good directing. (Psst… it’s the cast.) “I’ve been successful because of the cast,” says Schnell. “Casting is what makes me look better.”
7. 4,000 Miles is lucky number 7. 4,000 Miles marks Schnell’s seventh full-stage production as a director. The show is a four-person dramatic comedy about a feisty 91-year-old grandmother, a 21-year-old in need of solace, and the West Village apartment they share.
Rochester Repertory Theatre (103 Seventh St. NE) will present 4,000 Miles on Jan. 13-14, 19-21, and 26-28 at 7:30 p.m., and Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. Tickets ($22) are available at RochesterRep.org. For more information, call 507-289-1737.