Christian Doyle: The Natural

by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS

“Christian Doyle is one of those rare actors who makes it look like anyone should be able to do what he does, it’s so effortless and natural,” says film and stage actor Scott C. Brown.

Local theatergoers have seen Doyle in many shows, most likely singing and acting in one of the annual Stardust shows at Harlequin Productions or in web series The Gamers: Dorkness Rising.

“Christian is one of the best collaborators I’ve ever had the privilege to work with,” Brown says, “and he’s equally at home in comedic or dramatic roles. He can sing all manner of songs and styles. About the only thing he can’t do is dance, but he’s such a good performer, no one has ever really noticed. Oh, and he’s one of my best mates, but I’m not biased. He is truly a wonderful actor and performer.”

Doyle is a homegrown talent. He was born in Tacoma in 1977. His father, a musician, and his mother, a student at the time, divorced before he was born, and his mother had remarried. “My family moved so often that it wasn’t uncommon to change schools two to three times a year,” Doyle says. “This trend continued into my teens, until we settled back in Washington state shortly before my 17th birthday.” He claims moving around so much was “essentially where my love of performing began.” Performing was a defense mechanism for the “new kid du jour.” He was small and weak, new to whatever school or neighborhood he was in, and therefore an easy target for potential bullies. “My defense mechanism was to be spectacularly snappy to any potential bullies in hope I would get left alone for fear of public ridicule instead of getting beaten up. It worked well enough, but didn’t help my popularity any except marking me as a disruptive student.”

He discovered something good. Every new town had a community theater, and it was welcoming and understanding no matter who you were. They looked at his blunt sarcasm as “natural timing” and his manic energy as “youthful exuberance” — endearing qualities he still carries on stage. “If not for the time spent in those theaters and youth programs, I would’ve probably gone down a much darker path,” Doyle maintains.

After six months in Nevada, Doyle moved back to the Tacoma area where he decided to put down roots. “I quit theater, got a real job.” That job entailed selling police uniforms and equipment, and later body armor, to law enforcement. It was a job from which he was happy to be laid off. He got married “too young,” he says, in 2000. The marriage lasted seven years.

Lakewood Playhouse was doing A Few Good Men, and director John Munn needed males to fill eight utility roles. “I showed up and played all of them and never looked back,” Doyle says. Since then, he says, “I haven’t taken more than a couple of months off between productions. After A Few Good Men I got involved with a local film and was cast in the indie film cum Netflix hit The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. Since then I’ve been in several films in that series, written an installment, and gone on to work on the JourneyQuest web series.” Season three is available now. Doyle’s first feature film, Attacking the Darkness, was released in February. It stars Olympia actors Lauren O’Neil and Vanessa Postil with cameos by Doyle and his fiancée, Maggie Ferguson-Wagstaffe.

In addition to all this film work, Doyle produces a livestreaming, improvisational gaming show, called Masters of the Metaverse, weekly on Twitch TV.

This renaissance man of screen and internet has appeared in countless stage shows in Olympia and Tacoma, including nearly all of Harlequin’s more recent Stardust shows and summer music revues. He played John Lennon in A Rock and Roll Twelfth Night and did a take-off on Charlie Chaplin in Stardust Serenade. He played Sherlock Holmes in Hound of the Baskervilles for Theater Artists Olympia, was Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at Lakewood Playhouse, Tigger in The House at Pooh Corner at Olympia Family Theater and, switching to heavy drama, he played Nicki in The Seafarer at Harlequin.

On top of all that, he plays music on weekends at bars and coffee shops. He’s sung in bands and as parts of duos including Evil Tedd with The Voice alum Stephanie Anne Johnson, and more recently as half of folk duo Motorkitty with Vanessa Postil. “I love music, all kinds but probably rock music most of all. I play mostly acoustic music, so being able to belt out rock songs at those Harlequin summer shows with such an amazing band has been maybe the most fun I’ve ever had onstage. I love acting, telling a story through a character. But music — It’s so personal because my voice won’t let me hide how I feel about what I’m singing.”

On New Year’s Eve this past year, during the post-show raffle drawing at Harlequin’s latest Stardust, Doyle proposed to his girlfriend, Maggie Ferguson-Wagstaffe — much to her surprise and in front of the cast, crew and a full audience. There was a disappearing closet used in the show for magic tricks, and Doyle used it to smuggle the ring box onstage during his last entrance. “The hardest part about proposing on stage was learning the magic trick with the closet,” he says, and then adds, “Not really. Keeping my intentions secret from everyone was the toughest thing by far. I am terrible at secrets.”

Fellow actors and directors admire Doyle and enjoy working with him. Linda Whitney, co-founder of Harlequin Productions, says, “We first met Christian in 2011 and since then he’s been in over a dozen of our shows, both musical and straight. Obviously we love him. He’s inventive, smart and always ready to take a chance. He’s a sensational singer who can tackle a wide range of musical styles and infuses a song with authentic emotional impact. And in straight plays he brings charisma and a rare kind of honesty and heart to his roles.”

Choreographer and fellow actor Amy Shepard says, “Seeing Christian perform is truly inspiring. I find that what I most admire in other performing artists is a sense of commitment and dedication to their art form. Christian has a surplus of both. In any role, in any play, in any scene, Christian commits to that character and by doing so creates a deep sense of connection with audiences.”

What: JourneyQuest 3: The Pale Lady

Where: on demand at Vimeo

When: on demand now;
Blu-Ray and DVD in July

How much: $14.99

Learn more: Zombie Orpheus Entertainment | Vimeo

1 thought on “Christian Doyle: The Natural”

  1. Masters of the Metaverse is free to watch and goes live Monday at 6 p.m. on Twitch TV. Past episodes are free to watch from hyperRPG on YouTube. The show features live interaction with a global audience.

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