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Theatre Review: 'Who¿s Your Daddy?' a meditation on fatherhood

January 27, 2012|By Lynne Heffley

When you are an under-employed actor teaching traffic safety to 5-year-olds and your octogenarian boss makes a pass at you, it’s not surprising to feel as if life is on a rather downward spiral.

Irish-born stage and screen actor Johnny O’Callaghan found himself in that dismal place nearly seven years ago. Most widely known as “Niam” on the Syfy channel series “Stargate Atlantis,” O’Callaghan had lost his part-time teaching job, his personal life was a mess, and he was sweating out a lull between acting jobs.

When a friend extended a last-minute invitation to help her film a documentary about a struggling orphanage in the small town of Kasese in Uganda, something just said, “go,” O’Callaghan said.

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Following that impulse, O’Callaghan found the little boy who became his adopted son — and in the process, found himself.

O’Callaghan relates his adventure toward healing and unexpected fatherhood in “Who’s Your Daddy?,” his well-received, seriocomic and frankly adult solo show enjoying an extended run at the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank through Feb. 19.

Directed by Tom Ormeny, “Who’s Your Daddy?” is an uncensored and darkly funny account of dissipation, despair and salvation — and of a laborious, nine-month international adoption fraught with bureaucratic roadblocks and dubious fees.

When Ormeny and Maria Gobetti, the Victory’s co-founders and co-artistic directors, heard O’Callaghan give a private reading of the play, they knew that they wanted it for their stage, although it would be a first for the theater, which in its 32-year-history had never done a solo show.

“Often the writing is not up to the performer; they are hard to direct, and you can't send in the troops to spice things up,” Gobetti explained. “Tom and Johnny really worked on transitions and tone a lot.” But, she said, “we heard Johnny read it in a living room, fell in love with it and decided then and there to do it.”

“I had never really talked about how absurd and crazy that nine months was,” said O’Callaghan, whose desire to tell his story was partly in response to assumptions some made about actors and interracial parenthood, fueled by criticism leveled at high-profile adoptions by Angelina Jolie and Madonna.

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