New Brunswick's child, youth and seniors' advocate by day, community theatre player and director by night — Kelly Lamrock has had a passion for acting and stand-up comedy since his school days, and he doesn't plan to stop now.
Mostly the Moment Theatre Co., Lamrock's community theatre company in Fredericton, sets up their shows the night before performances begin, because everyone in the production has a day job.
"Some people play golf in their spare time," he said. "Some people play poker, some people scrapbook and I guess there's a few of us crazy folks who like to put on shows."
Lamrock, and the other actors that make up his theatre company, are performing their latest production, Almost, Maine, Saturday at The Ville in Fredericton.
"You can really do things you love doing, and don't be afraid to do something you love just because it might not be dignified," said Lamrock.
Not taking yourself too seriously is something those in politics and law should remember, according to Lamrock, and just one of the lessons that can be learned from the performing arts.
He should know — Lamrock is a former Liberal MLA who held various cabinet positions, including education, social development and attorney general. He then joined the NDP briefly before focusing on his legal practice.
He sees a crossover between his professional skills and those he has developed as an actor and stand-up comedian.
Lamrock cites John Cleese of Monty Python fame, who, like Lamrock, holds a law degree, as saying both lawyers and comedians focus on taking a premise and following it to a logical conclusion.
"And that logical exercise, comedy, is all about finding dissonance and absurdity in things we look at and don't think about," said Lamrock. "To find dissonance, you have to find the logic, and that's what lawyers are trained to do. So even though time-wise they're very hived off, there is some commonality."
Lamrock first found a love of acting when an elementary school teacher challenged him to read Macbeth and rewrite it in modern English for his class to perform. A variety of roles followed all through school and university.
His first summer job was acting with the Calithumpians in Fredericton, and he stayed with them for several years. He admits to having applied to theatre schools after high school graduation and receiving call backs, but ultimately decided to keep it as a hobby.
"In the end, law school beckoned," said Lamrock, adding that he also sees community theatre as a means to creative freedom.
"You might be acting in smaller venues, but you get to choose your shows and do things like Avenue Q, Hello Dolly and Almost, Maine. It beats auditioning for Chrysler commercials."
Almost, Maine, written by John Cariani, stars Kelly Lamrock, Eryn Frawley, Neil Mundell and Karla Pooley, playing multiple characters in an immersive play about one magical night in the fictional small town of Almost.
The show is Saturday at 8 p.m., and all proceeds will be donated to Inclusion N.B. It's one of the ways Lamrock sees his passion for performing complementing his professional work as an advocate — he donates all proceeds from his shows to charities.
Lamrock pegs the play as a "gentle comedy," reminiscent of other feel-good small town stories such as Gilmore Girls or Northern Exposure.
"I really am drawn to theatre that tells us a little something about who we are," said Lamrock.
"Sometimes it's the quieter moments in plays that we find out something a little unusual, a little quirky about a character and next thing you know we've learned a little something about ourselves.