Almost two years after his untimely death, a documentary about Randy Wilson, the longtime artistic director at The Theatre Company, will make have its premiere this weekend at Downtown Bryan's historic Queen Theatre.
BCS to Broadway & Back: The Randy Wilson Story is a film by James Cho and Cynthia Bradford, both of whom worked with Wilson at The Theatre Company.
The documentary will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and Tuesday and 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Friday night's presentation will be followed by the movie Jesus Christ Superstar. Wilson starred on Broadway in the stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Tickets are $10 and are available at the door if any remain. The doors open 30 minutes before showtime. They are available in advance online at www.queenbryantx.com.
Wilson graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in Bryan in 1965 and attended Baylor University, intending to study opera. Instead, he turned to musical theater and, after college, moved to New York, where he appeared in numerous roles on Broadway. At one point, his roommate was Michael Lee Aday, better known as Meat Loaf.
After returning to Bryan, Wilson was hired in 1993 as artistic director for 'magination Station, which would morph into The Theatre Company. In that role, he guided numerous musicals and countless actors, including Bradford and Cho. Along the way, he regaled those around him with his stories of life on Broadway and on the road in touring productions.
Bradford was fascinated with Wilson's stories and determined in 2014 they should be preserved in a book. Cho heard of her project and approached her with an idea for the documentary.
"As we met, it became apparent that there was a bigger story in just jotting down his memories and personal anecdotes. I shared my experience and plans to write a full book with James, and he became interested," Bradford said.
"I asked what she thought on documenting his story in film form. She liked the idea, so we took it to Randy and got his permission to get to work. That was almost three years ago," Cho said. "I was surprised at how readily members of the community were willing to give their time and financial support. It goes to show that Randy meant a lot to the theater community.
Bradford said, "I was surprised at the difference between what Randy would share with me privately for the book versus what he chose to share on film. Also, Randy's sudden death was a surprise.
"I was so grateful that we were able to get him on film just a few months before his passing [on Nov. 26, 2016]."
Cho is a perfect example of Wilson's encouraging style as a director.
"Randy was my first director. He encouraged me to audition again after I wasn't cast in my first show," Cho said. "I am grateful that I got to discover a new hobby, and it was in large part because of Randy."
A preliminary cut of the project was shown as a fundraiser at The Theatre Company last December. Money raised there allowed Bradford and Cho to travel to New York City to conduct interviews with people there who knew Wilson.
For help in editing the project, Cho turned to Theo Economides, a videographer who appeared in several Wilson-directed shows before he moved to Chicago several years ago.
"He gave great feedback for the final cut of the film," Cho said.
"This film is for the Brazos Valley," Cho added. "Anyone who is part of the community here should know about Randy Wilson. The film is a celebration of his life for those who knew him, and an historical record for those who did not."