Now You Can Die Happy, Charles Norris
A Morbid Quarterly Column of Unbridled Praise
Charles Norris's face is a sympathy magnet. Round, open, and sincere, it draws attention the moment he walks—or shuffles or bounds—onto a stage. His recent performance in Seattle Public Theater's production of Superior Donuts as Franco, the plucky doughnut-shop assistant who gets into some Chicago-style trouble with local bookies, was a shining example. In one vivid scene, Franco challenged the shop owner, Arthur (an ex-hippie stuck in a rut of apathy), to a "racist test" of naming 10 black poets. Norris sharpened the mostly playful exchange with a hint of wounded seriousness, adding tension to every laugh line. "I'm impressed!" he crowed midway through the test. "You just answered the four black poets who might be in your crossword puzzle!" Norris graduated from Cornish in 2007 and hasn't tackled any canonical show-off roles (yet)—no Hamlets or Stanley Kowalskis. But he's already become one of those actors who inspire relief by simply showing up. No matter what happens up there, he's always worth watching.