By Brandon Addeo | The Duquesne Duke
Theatergoers attending the Red Masquers’ production of “Death of a Salesman” might have noticed a familiar face in the play’s cast.
Curt Wootton, star and co-creator of the popular YouTube sitcom “Pittsburgh Dad,” is playing the role of Biff Loman in the production.
“Pittsburgh Dad,” a series of comedy shorts about the life of a stereotypical Pittsburghese-speaking dad, has become a local hit — netting over 73,000 subscribers and over 23 million total views on YouTube.
Wootton acted in Duquesne’s Peter Mills Theater two years ago with Pittsburgh theater group The Summer Company. Through this, he met Red Masquers director John Lane, and the pair afterward acted together in “Bigfoot: The Movie.”
Lane later invited Wootton to act in his inaugural production at the new Genesius Theater, Arthur Miller’s tragedy “Death of a Salesman,” Wootton said.
Wootton, who attended West Virginia University’s school of acting, said he is actually more versed in tragedy than the comedy he is known for.
“Comedy is a lot harder,” Wootton remarked.
Wootton said he is impressed with the new Genesius Theater, and is “happy” that the Masquers got a space of their own.
“[The Masquers] have been around for like 100 years,” he said. “It’s good to see them get their due respect here.”
A native of Greensburg, Wootton created “Pittsburgh Dad” with fellow actor Chris Preksta when the two were “messing around one day with a camera.”
“We were kind of doing a little improv,” he said. “It was meant to just throw it up online and show our parents and friends, and it kind of went viral.”
Wootton said the pair had “no intention” of becoming an internet hit, and he was “surprised” by the show’s popularity.
He added that, while he does get recognized in public on occasion, his life has not changed much because of “Pittsburgh Dad.”
“Aside from meeting some really awesome people, everything’s pretty much been the same,” Wootton said. “[With] YouTube, you don’t make millions of dollars … people who perform in this business do it because they have a passion for it and they just like to be creative.”
Wootton has had several well-known guests featured on “Pittsburgh Dad,” including Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Wootton said theater acting is different from film because it allows an actor to build off a crowd’s energy.
“With theater you can feel the crowd, and your character can grow throughout the play … you have this ‘through line,’” he said. “You’re able to naturally build to certain levels … [in film] you have all these [crew members] standing around and the director will call ‘cut!’ so you don’t have that through line.
“Anyone who’s an actor who doesn’t enjoy theater and doing a live performance, I don’t understand that.”
Wootton said his character “Pittsburgh Dad” is someone locals can relate to.
“A lot of people in the Pittsburgh area grew up the same way and had parents with similar values as Pittsburgh Dad, kind of like ‘don’t waste this’ or ‘don’t do that,’” he said.
“Pittsburgh in itself is a little cliquey, culty city and we wear it like a badge on our sleeve anywhere we go,” Wootton added. “It’s a little club and we like to share our little idiosyncrasies with each other.”
Wootton said a “Pittsburgh Dad” movie is being considered, and that its script is already done.
“We just need a couple million dollars,” he said with a laugh.
Wootton has also acted in Syfy’s online series, “The Mercury Men,” and the web series, “Captain Blasto.”