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‘The Wire’ actor now living in Central NY takes lead role in Syracuse Stage production 3/29/2023 Syracuse Stage,

This story was reported and written by Joyelle Ronan, a student in the Goldring Arts Journalism program at Syracuse University and an intern for Syracuse Stage.

With an impressive list of professional acting credits, Central New York resident Jim True-Frost is perhaps best known as the kind and sometimes incompetent Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski on HBO’s “The Wire.” But with deep roots in theater that include Broadway and Chicago’s famous Steppenwolf Theater since 1989, his latest role is bringing him back to the stage right here at Syracuse Stage.

While fans of “Law and Order,” “Yellowstone,” and “The Blacklist” will recognize True-Frost for his impeccable character acting, playing the role of the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” will allow him to form a more intimate bond with the audience. He will serve as the guide to the fictional town of Grover’s Corner while exploring the playwright’s great themes of life, love, and death.

“He’s sort of a functionary and guide, rather than a realistic portrait of an imaginary person,” True-Frost said of his character. “I imagine it’ll be a lot of me, you know. I think a lot of people will say, ‘Oh, I felt like I spent that time hanging out with you and talking to you.’ And I think that’s the way it should be.”

For True-Frost, Syracuse is “His Town.” His connection to the city dates back over 20 years to when his wife was a law student at Syracuse University. During that time, he was cast in Syracuse Stage productions of “A Christmas Carol,” “Inherit the Wind,” and “Beauty Queen of Leenane.” But “Our Town” will be his first time returning to Syracuse Stage since he and his family moved to The Salt City 11 years ago.

If he were to guide the audience through Syracuse like his character, True-Frost said he would want to show the various communities that are important to our city – the ones that are often struggling and ignored.

“I guess, the people are more where my heart is. And it’s also, you know, kind of what the heart of the play that we’re doing is focused on, really just sort of relationships and families and community in general,” he said.

“Our Town” struck a chord with True-Frost. He said the play asks essential questions of what makes life meaningful – or even bearable? How can we be happy and hopeful, even when life is hard and unfair? The play is stripped of gimmicks and focuses on the inherent beauty of ordinary, everyday life.

“You know, I think theater, especially this play, can sort of remind us of how to keep our hearts open,” he said.

Theater is an integral part of True-Frost’s life and career. Most recently, he was in the 2019 Broadway production of Steppenwolf’s play “Linda Vista.” True-Frost said he is excited to return to the stage. “It’s kind of like putting on an old suit, you know, or picking up a guitar that you haven’t played in years. I just love acting on stage,” he said. “There’s a real chemistry and a joy of the live performance. That’s what’s really special about theater.”

True-Frost said that the craft of acting can be very different from television to film to the stage. However, the act of creating a character is essentially the same, even if the actor’s relationship to the script varies. In a play, the character’s entire life is written out before you. Whereas in television, a character’s life goes on from episode to episode, and an actor doesn’t know the end of the path. Through his five seasons on “The Wire,” True-Frost said his character experienced a wide arc with many big life changes.

“I think the person I was at the end of this series was a pretty different person from the one Prez was at the beginning of the series. And that’s one of the things that can be really exciting about working in television,” he said.

While “Our Town” may not hold the level of suspense often seen in True-Frost’s filmography, he said he hopes that the simple and honest subject matter will resonate with people. Whether a person’s introduction to the show was reading the play in high school English class or seeing the film (starring Paul Newman as the Stage Manager,) he said no one should be misled by the play’s “old-fashioned” reputation.

“I invite anyone to come see this play, no matter what their preconceptions are, and I think they might be surprised of how poignant and touching it is,” True-Frost said.

“Our Town” directed by Robert Hupp opens at Syracuse Stage on Wednesday, March 29 and runs through April 16. Tickets are available via

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