Shane Partlow mostly earns his living on stage at theaters such as Franklin County’s Totem Pole Playhouse, where he has been a frequent performer since appearing in a 2015 production of “The Nerd.”
But like most actors, the native of Moline, Illinois, is always willing to take a role in television or film to further his career. You may have seen him in the movies “Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” (2004) or “Madea’s Witness Protection” (2012).
In 2017, Partlow, 53, got an opportunity to play the small role of a racist tailor in a film titled “Green Book,” about an African-American classical pianist who is chauffeured by an Italian American bouncer during a performance tour in the segregated South during the turbulent 1960s.
Partlow was only on the “Green Book” set in Louisiana for three days — he took a brief leave from Totem Pole’s “A Christmas Carol” rehearsals to do it — but he says he left believing the movie might be something extraordinary judging by the quality of the actors on hand.
The cast included Mahershala Ali, winner of an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Moonlight,” and Viggo Mortensen, already twice nominated for Best Actor Oscars and internationally renowned for his role as King Aragorn in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
“It’s not often you get to work with Academy Award-level actors,” Partlow said. “For me, it was just a job that you go do, but that was really special.”
The surreal feeling got even stronger on Oscar night, when “Green Book” was named Best Picture. Ali picked up his second Supporting Actor award, while Mortensen, Oscar-nominated for a third time, did not win for Best Actor, losing out to Rami Malek for “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“I didn’t know which way it was going to go,” Partlow said of the best-picture category, which included strong nominees like “Black Panther,” “A Star is Born” and “Roma.” “You just think it would be great to win, but you can’t expect it.”
Actors are always looking for good clips they can use to promote their careers. Partlow certainly has a doozy, having acted in one of only 91 films in history to receive the golden statuette for Best Picture.
These days, Partlow is back to thinking about theater as he prepares to perform in the opening show of Totem Pole’s upcoming summer season, a comic murder mystery titled “Shear Madness.” The show, set in a hair salon, runs May 31 to June 16.
But the memory of trading lines with Mortensen will not fade any time soon. “Moments like that are why I became an actor,” Partlow noted.
Open Stage of Harrisburg continues a 20-year tradition Thursday and Friday with public performances of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” the real-life story of a young, Jewish girl caught up in the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust.
Both shows are at 7:30 p.m. in Scottish Rite auditorium, 2701 N. Third St., Harrisburg.
Once again this year, Open Stage will welcome Holocaust survivor Hilda Mantelmacher as a guest speaker for morning student-only performances of “Anne Frank” this week.
Mantelmacher has shared her story with thousands of school-age students since the beginning of the Anne Frank Project at Open Stage in 1999.
Although Frank lost her family and her freedom during World War II, the diaries she kept show a young woman who did not give in to hate.
“Anne Frank wrote that ‘in spite of everything, I still believe that people are good at heart,’” Open Stage Producing Artistic Director Stuart Landon aid.
That quote also gave the name to a new awards ceremony that will recognize area people and organizations that exemplify Anne Frank’s spirit.
Recipients of the first Good at Heart awards are Marianne Fisher, among the founders of Open Stage; Nicholas Hughes, well-known actor and philanthropist; Rabbi Peter Kessler of Temple Ohev Sholom; and the Edward S. Finkelstein of the Harrisburg Jewish Film Festival.
Awards will be given out during a fundraising gala Sunday at Scottish Rite Cathedral. A reception begins at 6 p.m., with ceremonies starting at 7.
Two separate one-act plays connected mainly by love and one shared song comprise “Romance, Romance,” a quirky off-off-Broadway hit that is on stage at Oyster Mill Playhouse through March 24.
The musical’s first half, “The Little Comedy,” is based on a short story by sometimes bawdy Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931). It explores the complications posed by a budding romance between two bored members of the upper crust in 19th century Vienna who have adopted lower class guises in an effort to spice up their love lives.
The show’s second half, while based on Jules Renard’s 1898 play “The House Bread,” is updated to a more contemporary setting: the Hamptons of the 1980s. The focus is on two married couples who stray toward broken wedding vows as they share a rented summer cottage.
“Romance, Romance” features a book and lyrics by Barry Harman and music by Keith Harriman. It opened off-off-Broadway in 1987, but achieved enough critical and popular notice to make a rare leap to Broadway the following year. Oyster Mill’s production is directed by Kristen Borgersen.