Whether it’s grooming Fido or directing an aspiring thespian, Tim Spradlin handles the situation at hand in a passionate manner. And that passion was never more obvious when taking the stage at the American Cabaret Theatre, Footlite Musicals or CTS.
Spradlin, who has a mixed career as a director and the owner of Auntie Leila’s Pet Salon & Barkery, said both professions are rewarding. “I love the theater, and I have a fondness for animals.”
Spradlin’s artistic side was exposed when he started singing in grade school. He sang gospel music in junior high and got involved with musical theater at Tech High School.
He went on to major in accounting at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and was an accountant for 15 years while performing with various troupes. And because of his prowess with numbers, he worked in the American Cabaret Theatre’s box office.
“The performing world is full of difficulties. It requires a lot of hard, hard work to pull off seamless productions, but we did that at the ACT. We would be rehearsing for one show and staging another. You had to know how to divide your concentration,” said Spradlin, who worked with the talented Brenda Williams and Shannon Forsell in many memorable shows.
But after five years with ACT, Spradlin, 51, decided it was time to do more than sing and act. His first directorship was at the high school level.
He also decided to get out of the accounting business. “I enrolled in grooming school and loved it. I had thought about opening a kennel, but that’s a 24/7 job. That wasn’t the plan I had for the rest of my life.”
When he released “Belt, Ballad and Blues” in 2005, Nuvo news referred to him as one of the top male singers in Indianapolis. The CD features pop music from the 1970s and cabaret, love, blues and show tunes.
Spradlin was a groomer for more than 13 years before buying Auntie Leila’s, 50 N. Madison Ave., Greenwood (888-6266) five years ago. The shop, named the No. 1 grooming center for five years by WRTV’s A-List, features designer pet clothes and toys and an assortment of organic treats.
“I don’t perform as much as I used to, and I’ll tell you why: When I direct, my actors become an extension of everything I have learned as an actor.”
His most recent production just closed at Theatre on the Square, and “Gypsy,” which he is directing at Footlite Musicals, opens Friday. The cast has been rehearsing for about seven weeks. “It’s difficult to get the entire cast of 30 together when considering everyone’s (scheduling) conflicts,” said Spradlin, who estimates the crew will have about 30 rehearsals under its belt by Friday.
The production tells the tales of the ultimate stage mother, Rose Hovick, as she pushes her two daughters toward fame and fortune in the 1920s and ’30s. Tickets and show times are available by calling 926-6630.
“Directing and performing can be the greatest things ever,” said Spradlin, noting that his most memorable performances were in “Sweeney Todd,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “The Story of My Life,” of which he said was an incredible experience.
“I consider Footlite Musicals my home. I got my start there 31 years ago.”