Acting and the Art of Communication: George Henny

Posted in Feature, More Stories, Music, Second Chance, Theater and Dance

BY KATIE WOODZICK
Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
October 15, 2014

George Henny loved to tell stories from an early age.

Henny first found himself onstage in a kindergarten production directed by Ms. Wills. He was a painfully shy five-year old, but his first foray into acting thrilled him and helped him gain confidence. His mother kept both a black-and-white picture of his first performance and the purple mimeographed script.

His passion for performance followed him through high school and into his college years, where he majored in Drama at the University of Washington. His theatre training manifests itself in his professional life as Co-CEO of Whidbey Telecom.

George in "God of Carnage" at WICA (photo by Tyler Raymond).

George as Alan in “God of Carnage” at WICA (photo by Tyler Raymond).

“Theater and music are two of my passions, and I was fortunate to cross-pollinate them in college,” said Henny. “So how do those have a connection in the telecom and technology world? Simply this: theater and music are avenues of storytelling. And when you can draw upon the elements of good storytelling, you realize that a great public presentation or speech is more than just sharing a subject matter; it reaches into the hearts of your audience to create an emotional connection. And I owe a lot of that to my training in the drama school.”

When he heard that Whidbey Island Center for the Arts was opening their 2014-2015 season with ‘Into the Woods,’ he was immediately drawn to the musical but unsure if he could be a part of it due to his myriad personal and professional commitments. Luckily, his supportive family encouraged him to audition.

George in "A Murder is Announced" (photo courtesy of George Henny)

George in “A Murder is Announced” (photo by Jason Dittmer)

Henny shares the stage for the first time with his 15-year-old son, Liam, in this production. Liam portrays the iconic character, Jack, who climbs the beanstalk and slays the giant. Rehearsing the show has created many performance memories that father and son can share.

According to Henny, “Some memories have been tender, like singing ‘No One is Alone’ with him in the box boom, and some laughing-till-it-hurt moments during rehearsals. I remember when he first sang ‘Giants In The Sky’ during an early rehearsal. I was so blown away by it, it brought me to tears. It has brought us much closer together, and I shall always treasure this show for that.”

Director Rob Prosch cast George in the leading role of the Baker. ‘Into the Woods’ follows the characters of the Baker and Baker’s Wife (played by Marta Mulholland) as they meet the challenges thrown at them by a neighboring witch, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Prince Charming, Little Red Riding Hood and a colorful ensemble of fairy tale characters. The musical was written in 1986 by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.

George in "Into the Woods"  (photo by Jim Carroll).

George with Marta Mulholland in “Into the Woods” (photo by Jim Carroll).

Henny described the complexities of the production and his gratitude to both his cast and director.

“‘Into The Woods’ is the most difficult musical I have ever performed in, and it is not an understatement to say that it is an audacious production for WICA,” commented Henny. “Special thanks to Rob Prosch for carrying the vision and tirelessly encouraging us all to be our very best.”

Henny currently serves as the Board Chair of Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in addition to his other philanthropic endeavors.

“To me, serving as Chair of the WICA Board is the opportunity to serve and inspire others, to lead through service, to collaborate with people for the pure joy of the arts, and to champion the amazing team of staff and volunteers that truly make the magic of WICA happen, on-stage and behind the scenes.”

Executive Director Stacie Burgua spoke warmly about Henny’s onstage work.

“I work with George in the business of WICA and when I see him onstage, his artistic abilities never fail to amaze me. It’s a truly humbling experience. George is a successful business owner; an involved father, husband, and son; and also has this incredible ability and talent. I’m always really happy to see him fulfilling the artistic part of his life and feeding his soul.”

Rehearsal for "Into the Woods" (photo by Kathryn Morgen).

Ethan Berkley and Liam Henny rehearse with George for “Into the Woods” (photo by Kathryn Morgen).

Programming and Production Director Deana Duncan has shared the WICA stage with Henny several times.

“The thing about George is that he’s that rare true left/right brain type. He is super smart and amazingly creative,” observed Duncan. “He brings this sense of almost childlike exuberance to his work. The reason I think ‘Into the Woods’ is one of the best roles I’ve seen him in is that he’s forced to bring his father memory to the role of Baker. George Henny is simply heartfelt in this role of a man desperate to be a father, deeply in love with an unhappy woman and willing to risk everything for true happiness.”

In addition to performing in ‘Into the Woods,” Henny is enthusiastic to share new Whidbey Telecom projects with the Whidbey community. At the top of his list are Mixby, a location-based storytelling app, and WhidbeyTV.

“I’m very excited about what we are doing with WhidbeyTV locally in our community, and to be able to share and reflect the specialness of Whidbey through our local channels,” said Henny. “We believe in sharing and inspiring the best stories, people and experiences within our community. It is part of our commitment to serve and enrich people’s lives here. And whether you are a newcomer or a long-time islander, we hope to deepen each person’s appreciation and connection to our community and to the people who believe in it. We believe that each person makes a difference here, but it takes all of us together to make this a wonderful place to live, work and play. The more people know, the more they appreciate, and the more they appreciate, the more they love.”

Katie Woodzick works at Hedgebrook as an External Relations Manager. She is also an actor and director who can be seen on local stages. She is excited to act with George as Little Red Riding Hood in “Into the Woods,” which runs through October 25 at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.

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