Bob Beard balances law and the stag

A career spent as an attorney is quite a commitment of time and effort, especially when working with cases involving children.

A life on the stage, appearing nightly before appreciative audiences, can also be both challenging and rewarding for a myriad of reasons. Employment might not be steady; the voice gets hoarse or an ankle gets twisted.

Combining the worlds of a law practice and part-time work as an actor has become all in a day’s work for Culpeper attorney Robert F. Beard, III.

Robert, who goes by Bob, is married to Deane Collie and they have three grown daughters, Avi, Emily and Nancy. He has been an attorney at law for 30 years.

“I am a contract attorney, representation primarily for Fauquier, Culpeper and Orange departments of social services, focusing on child abuse and foster care cases, and adult protective services, together with other local government law issues encountered by these agencies.”

Recently turning 60, Bob heeded the call once again to return to his roots as a stage performer. He auditioned for a role in Riverside Dinner Theatre’s production of the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof. Riverside cast Bob in the supporting role of the Rabbi.

He has been juggling both his daytime commitment as a lawyer with his return to the stage ever since. Currently he is appearing in a major role in Riverside’s new production of the “other” version of Phantom of the Opera, entitled Phantom.

He recently answered some questions about his law practice and being onstage.

STAGE VIEWS: Does it feel like you have been a licensed attorney for 30 years?What a w career?

It seems like I started only yesterday and I still have to start every case just like it’s the very first one.

The greatest reward is to see a child whose case I have handled successfully negotiate the legal system, and succeed as a productive adult. There are a number of appellate decisions in Virginia that I now encounter when I attend legal conferences. It is rewarding to know that I was involved in those cases, and had a part in shaping the development of the law.

You also serve as a school board member for Culpeper County Public Schools. Why is that important?

I care about children, and there is no institution in this country that affects them more than the educational system.

When did you get started with your theatre training? What are some of your favorite roles and performances?

I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from East Carolina University in Drama and Speech. I did summer stock and performed in a lot of community theatres. I am a former artist-in-residence in the North Carolina community college system.

Emile DeBecque in South Pacific; Ford in Merry Wives of Windsor; Van Helsing in Dracula. And recently, Lord Evelyn in Anything Goes.

After a long hiatus from doing shows, what was auditioning like?

It was pretty dreadful. I felt like a high school kid auditioning for my first play. I had such terrible nerves, and I sang badly. Fortunately, I was older and had a gray beard, and the show was Fiddler on the Roof.

There is no feeling like connecting with a live audience. And it is just good therapy.

What is it like juggling both the day job and theatre?

To be honest it is difficult and tiring. I have had to stop at office at midnight coming back from the theatre to prepare for court next morning. It is a relief that rehearsals are over now, and I have some breathing room.

What is your role in Phantom?

Gérard Carrière. As the play opens, he is the managing director of the Paris Opera. I can’t say much more about him, except that he knows some secrets about Erik, the Phantom.

Are there any dream roles you would love to get to play?

I have to say I’m playing one of them right now. Though I wouldn’t mind getting a chance to be in Les Misérables, if the opportunity were to present itself.

After Phantom, going to take a bit of a break. I’m hoping to find a project closer to home.

PHANTOM – The Musical

By Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit continues through October 14.

Riverside Center, Dinner Theatre and Conference Center

95 Riverside Parkway, Fredericksburg, VA 22406

Performances: Wed. matinee, 1:30 p.m.; Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.

Seating for meal begins approximately 90 minutes earlier

540.370.4300, box office

Tickets range from $40 to $60 (dinner and show) for individuals.

Go to Riverside Center website for more information at www.riversidet.com