J. Dennis Robinson
The last time I interviewed Scott Weintraub he and a talented acting troupe were performing a cabaret called “We Sing, We Dance, Etc.” aboard a local cruise ship. That was in the early 1980s. Scott was also part of the first revival of The Music Hall. He and his wife Nancy also saved the Prescott Park summer festival from shutting down. A classically-trained equity actor imported from the Big Apple, Scott Weintraub was handsome, hilarious, and bursting with energy. We all knew this guy was going places. He did.
Then the cruise ship caught fire. My newspaper closed down. Prescott Park recovered. And after 10 years making Portsmouth audiences swoon, Scott Weintraub packed up and left us. But this month, four decades later, the prodigal actor who played a key role in the renaissance of Portsmouth performing arts is back.
His one-man hour-long cabaret is appropriately titled “Scott Weintraub: Return to Portsmouth.” Tickets for the three-day event may be hard to find. Performances will be held at the intimate Pontine 1845 Plains Schoolhouse the weekend of Sept. 24 to 26. But all shows will be videotaped with plans to present an edited version online via Zoom the following weekend of Oct.1 to 3.
“Through songs and anecdotes I’ll be exploring my time in Portsmouth,” Scott told me from his California home last week. “Why did I come there in the first place? Why did I stay so long? And why do I keep coming back?”
It all started with Theatre by the Sea, the cramped 93-seat stage carved into the basement of an ancient grain warehouse on Ceres Street. By 1975, TBS was entering its second decade when Weintraub, who was having some success as a performer in New York City, got the call from TBS director Jon Kimball. Scott starred in the musical “Carousel,” the first TBS outdoor production in Prescott Park. He eventually appeared in roughly 30 local productions including Oklahoma, Grease, Guys and Dolls, Carnival, 1776, Starshine, Pippin, Godspell, and Bus Stop.
“These actors would job out of New York and come to Portsmouth for a couple of months,” he recalls, “and you’d work so closely and intensely that you’d really bond and create this incredible theater. Then they were gone, never to see one another again.”
Scott played TBS between gigs in New York. He fell in love with a Portsmouth woman (who was actually from New York City). He moved back here to live and then ran out of theater work.
“I was doing the Portsmouth Shuffle,” he says. ”If you’re not a doctor or a lawyer and you don’t own a restaurant, how are you going to make a living here?” He tried voiceover work in Boston, started a singing telegram company, waited tables, launched “We Sing, We Dance,” delivered the Boston Globe, and even got his real estate license.
Like so many before and since, the actor from New York had been seduced by the City of the Open Door. “For me, it was the lure of just walking around this beautiful…