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Actor not afraid of challenges for lead ‘J.B.’ role

Imagine having to shave every bit of hair off your face, chest arms and legs to do something you love.

For Andy Tyhurst, that was no problem.

Tyhurst has acted in many Missouri Western plays, including “Laughter on the 23rd Floor,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Arsenic and Old Lace.” This year, Tyhurst has earned his first lead role as J.B. in “J.B.”

“I’m so honored to play the role,” Tyhurst said. “I admit that I am a little nervous, but it’s good nerves because this is what I like to do.”

J.B. is essentially known as Job from the Bible. In “the Book of Job,” God and the devil make a bet that if the devil takes away all of J.B.’s money and power, J.B. will curse God. However, God believes that J.B. won’t.

The role of J.B. is not the easiest role to play, however. There have been changes made as well as challenges endured in order to play the character.

Director Tee Quillin said Tyhurst has always been known for his comedic roles, yet J.B. is a very serious role.

Quillin did the casting for the production and felt this was a role that could allow Tyhurst to come out of his shell.

“He was the right guy for the job,” Quillin said. “His primary work is as a comedic actor and I wanted to give him a challenge. He is a strong actor in his own way.”

With Tyhurst being the lead actor, remembering the words from the script can also be a challenge. With J.B. being the character that has the most amount of lines, a lot of time is needed which Tyhurst was aware of.

“It has been time consuming,” Tyhurst said. “But that’s for all of us. We are here from 6 to 10 at night. For me, it’s more about balance and balancing my school work as well as free time.”

Some changes to Tyhurst’s body were made to help with effects for the play. In the play, J.B. becomes diagnosed with Job’s syndrome, which is an infliction of boils of the skin. The disease can affect the skeletal system and there’s no cure for it.

Quillin said nursing professor Heather Kendall met with him, Tyhurst, the makeup artist, costumer and stage manager to give them a presentation on her research of Job’s disease. Kendall showed them various images as well as the physical symptoms and the emotional and mental impact the disease can have on a person.

“It was difficult to sit through,” Quillin said. “[Kendall] was fantastic help, and I think it benefited Andy a lot.”

Tyhurst said the department hired a professional makeup artist for the physical effects that will take place on his body. Tyhurst had to shave his face, arms, legs and chest so the prosthetic patches will not rip the hair off his skin once he has to take them off.

Even Xan Kellogg, playing J.B.’s wife Sarah in the play, helped Tyhurst by giving him shaving techniques once he told her he had to shave his body.

One of Tyhurst’s other cast members feels that the fact he is able to endure the challenges and changes of playing a different role shows how talented he truly is. Robin Ussher plays the role of the Nickles (the devil) in the play and has noticed some of that talent for quite some time now.

“I was actually in a couple of plays with him,” Ussher said. “I think that he’s terrific actor because he brings something new to the table each time. He is a little older than us so he definitely brings maturity to each role he plays here. I think he is very diverse.”

Tyhurst has had a blast so far with J.B. and has learned a lot.

“It’s been a rewarding experience on so many levels from connecting with the role, learning from Tee and making so many friends with our talented cast and crew.”

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