By Terry Liebowitz
How does an Alameda County Superior Court Judge end up on stage at the this holiday season?
From Dec. 17 to 22, the Honorable Judge Tom Reardon plays the role of Bob Wallace in Irving Berlin's White Christmas, a character originally played by the legendary Bing Crosby.
Castro Valley Arts Foundation brings this Diablo Theatre Company's sold-out production to town as part of their 2011-2012 series.
On the bench for the past 13 years, Reardon discovered acting quite by accident.
In 2005, a friend asked Reardon if he could help fill the ranks of the sailor chorus in a local production of Anything Goes.
Reardon relates, "I went off to rehearsal that first night on a lark, something akin to going off to summer camp!"
Two days later, the lead quit and guess who got his role? Reardon stepped up to the part of Billy Croker and has been singing and dancing in musicals around the Bay ever since. White Christmas is his 29th show in the last 6 years — and No. 30 is already on the docket! (Legally Blonde)
"In the beginning, I was way too stupid to be nervous," confessed Reardon. "About my fourth show, I realized 'this is really hard work.' My only previous training was lots of Irish family parties and piano bars."
An undergraduate degree at Notre Dame and law degree from UC Berkeley did not include any forays into the acting world. As a native New Yorker, Reardon and his family enjoyed attending theater, but that was the extent of "his training."
Reardon has played most of the leading men in the classic American musical repertoire.
When asked about his favorites, he recounted, "It's hard to beat the role of Julian Marsh soulfully singing "42nd Street" (42nd Street) in the closing scene or the swashbuckling character of Captain Hook (Peter Pan)."
Similarly, Reardon gets to sing one of his favorite songs in White Christmas: "How Deep Is the Ocean."
Reardon adds, "The simplistic beauty of Irving Berlin's music still lives and breathes today. It is my job to make the song both meaningful and memorable."
Asked to compare "his day job" with his avocation, Reardon relates, "In the courtroom, I am technically "on stage" everyday. Public speaking is easy for me. On stage, I have the additional opportunity to express myself as well as relief from being the man in charge! One time a whole jury came to see my show, after deliberations, of course!"
There are still a few roles that Reardon would like to add to his resume: Sweeney Todd, Guido in Nine, ZaZa in La Cage and Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate.
Nightly rehearsals and weekend shows don't leave much free time, but Reardon has volunteered at Loaves and Fishes since his law school days in 1987. Loaves and Fishes is an outreach ministry to the poor and homeless of Berkeley and Oakland. For a time, Reardon served as director of the program.
The opportunity to see one of our own Superior Court Judges on stage is just one of the many reasons to attend Irving Berlin's White Christmas.
This show is an uplifting musical, perfect for a family holiday outing “…where tree tops glisten and children listen to sleigh bells in the snow.”
To check ticket availability, dates and times, click here.
You can also purchase tickets by calling 510-889-8961 or in person by visiting the or .
For more information, visit www.cvartsfoundation.org.
Terry Liebowitz is a founding member of the Castro Valley Arts Foundation.