April 13, 2006
By Catey Sullivan
Contributor, Pioneer Press
Glenview native Scott Rose may well be the only actor around willing to admit on the record that "Three's Company" inspired him to pursue the art.
Let lesser thespians talk about Stanislavsky and Meisner. For Rose, it's all about that '70s sitcom that launched a brave new era of jiggle and jokes.
So it's fitting -- perhaps even destiny -- that Richard Kline is directing Rose's one-person show "Computer Geek: One Nerd's Search for His Soulmate," opening today (Thursday) at Chicago's Improv Olympic.
Kline, for you kids who don't remember, was Larry on "Three's Company," a swinging bachelor who mostly hung around his apartment in silk zebra- striped pajamas. He's been working as a director and a stage actor since the show went off the air, and first caught Rose's "Computer Geek" when it debuted in Los Angeles.
"The show was universal. We've all been involved in the dating wars," Kline said. "But I also thought it needed work. He had directed himself, and he didn't move around much. It was kind of static. I helped him make more vivid stage pictures, if you will."
The movement might have changed to create more vivid stage pictures, but Rose's content stayed largely intact.
At 34, he has almost 20 years worth of excruciating experiences with females to draw from as he tells of his search for a soul mate.
"I didn't have sisters. I think that was problem. Females were just alien to me," he said.
Also a problem: a harrowing trauma at age 6. That was when, hopefully bringing a fist full of Hershey's kisses, Rose walked down the block to watch "The Muppets" with Jill, the first-grade girl of his dreams.
"Her mom answered the door. She was smoking. She was wearing a T-shirt with a smiley face that had a bullet hole through the head," Rose recalled.
Rose asked for Jill. The mother leaned over, blowing smoke over Rose's head and rasped, "'Jill's sick. Who're you?'" he said. "I said, 'I'm Jill's soul mate,' and she just started laughing at me. She said, 'Kid, you don't know the first thing about soul mates,' and slammed the door in my face," Rose said.
Things didn't get any better for Rose as an adolescent, and he started taking his cues from Leisure Suit Larry, the star of an X-Rated computer game.
"The computer was pretty much my whole life," Rose explained. "I used it to help me learn how to deal with the world. So Leisure Suit Larry became like a role model. I decided to try out one of his lines on a girl -- it always worked for Larry."
It didn't work for Rose, who describes in the show exactly where he was kicked after using Larry's line.
Hearing her son talk about his escapades with women doesn't bother Scott's mother, Esther, who flew out to Los Angeles with 10 friends to see him perform there.
"He told me, 'Mom, I don't want you to be offended, but I talk about sex. If there's something you don't understand, I'll explain it to,'" Esther Rose said. "I could handle it. And he didn't have to explain anything to me."
8 p.m. Thursdays today through May 18, 2006
Improv Olympic, 3541 N. Clark St., Chicago