Actor Robert Newman had a rare steady acting gig for most of 29 years as a star of the  "Guiding Light".   After raising a family and moving on from the storied soap, he's enjoying the freedom to do a variety of acting roles in various venues , from TV to movies to stage, and he's back for a couple of shows at the Barn Theatre in Augusta.  Newman was an apprentice there in 1981. Newman and the Barn's Penelope Alex were guests on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins.

"It (Guiding Light) was an amazing gig to have for raising the kids, it really was.  I rarely traveled when I was doing the show.  We mainly shot it in a studio in New York City pretty much all the time.  And I didn't even necessarily go in five days a week.  I averaged about three days a week, so most of the time my kids got more of me than most do with working dads."   Newman says he'd get up at 5am to make the commute, and be at the studio at 7am.  He says the day could end as early as 2pm, or go until 7pm or later.

In the ten years since "Guiding Light" ended, Newman has been theater as well as TV shows like "Law and Order-SVU", "NCIS", "Criminal Minds" "Chicago Fire" "Homeland" and "House of Cards."  and  he says  he plays a lot of bad guys.  'I've never had a bad experience working on any of those shows", said Newman. "Mark Harmon is one of the nicest people on the planet.  He really is. Everybody's so nice on that set, and I mentioned it to a couple of people and they all just sort of pointed at Mark and just said he doesn't want people around him who are unhappy and mean.  And I agree with that.  I'm at a point in my career where I just don't want to be around people who throw temper tantrums or whatever."

Newman was asked why anybody would leave a show like NCIS, since some have.  He mentioned that he left "Guiding Light" twice, and was lucky they didn't kill his character off.  But he says he also took off several weeks off each summer to do theater.  "The producers understood that it rejuvenated me."

Newman and Alex star in the upcoming Barn Theatre opening of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd".   Collins remarked that Sondheim's music is more intricate, unpredictable and more difficult  to sing than that of some other Broadway composers.  "There's many times when I'm cursing Stephen.  ARRHHGH!  What were you thinking!  And there are lyrics that are so smart  and difficult to get into your head.  I've had this show in my bones for 30 or 40 years. I've just never done it."

Sweeney Todd is a pretty dark story about two British business people who create a unique and pretty disturbing partnership to get by in tough times.   But Newman says it works because of the humor in it.  "He (Sondheim) was also smart enough to know that you can't tell a story like this without having great humor.  There is extraordinary humor throughout the show, and if it wasn't there then I don't think that you could balance the carnage that's in there.."    And Newman doesn't hold back in his opinion of  "Sweeney Todd".   " In my opinion, this is the greatest musical written by on of the top one, two or three composer-lyricists on the planet in the history of the musical theater.  This is his pinnacle, I think."

  • Now thru Sunday June 30th: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
  • Opens July 2nd: "Sweeney Todd" starring Robert Newman and Penelope Alex
  • Coming soon: Robert Newman in "Big: The Musical", and "Steel Magnolias" starring Kim Zimmer.

For tickets, show times and information, go to the Barn's website.