"We get to play so many different roles," says Scharback, who's also performed in other theaters in Maine, in Virginia, New Hampshire and Seattle and on Off-Off Broadway. After six summers at Monmouth he feels comfortable with the space, the style, the actors. Last year he directed Monmouth's The Adventures of Robin Hood.
"I like variety," Scharback says. "Sally [Wood, the theater's artistic director] is conscious of that in the casting. We switch to keep things interesting for the actors. You learn by playing opposite different people. You trust each other. That keeps you going."
All but a couple of Monmouth's actors perform roles in two or more plays, and several people rotate through jobs in the scene shop or costume shop. Coffey, completing his second season at Monmouth, is the theater's music directorand "an incredible musician," says Sally Wood.
Coffey planned to major in English and minor in music at Colby but pretty much fell into theater, dropping orchestra when it conflicted with Mother Courage rehearsals. "It's where I was putting in my energy," he says. Coffey's credits include regional performances with the Peterborough Players, the BoarsHead Theater, Plowshares Theatre, Lost Nation Theater and several roles in New York.
Their junior year on Colby's theater program in London, the two actors lived together while taking voice and movement classes. They had a contest to see how many nights in a row they could see plays: 16, they agree, "before we crashed." They took in 60 plays in all.
Scharback, though a performer in high school, jokes that he was a government, then philosophy, then Spanish major at Colby, before finding his way to performing arts. He was on the soccer team but passed it up "to do some time with theater."
"I loved it. You get lighting instruction, all kinds of things," he says, including scene design and directing. "It's really helpful to know what goes into it."
Says Monmouth's producing director David Greenham: "They've done lots of technical stuff, as opposed to only acting. They know theater."
Honed by their summer work, both actors are heading off to M.F.A. programs, Scharback recruited by the internationally based Clarence Brown Theater at the University of Tennessee and Coffey to the Brown University/Trinity Rep Consortium, where Coffey expects to broaden his acting with playwriting and directing. Scharback, while studying with working professional actors, anticipates meeting directors and designers of visiting shows and acting in the program's plays when they tour abroad.
Film, TV, commercials, voiceovers for animationsnone of it appeals when actors live and breathe the live stage.
"No matter what vocation you choose, you must have passion," Greenham says. "They have it."