Terry Smith is awaiting his cue. A community theater actor who scored a spot as an extra in The Avengers when it filmed here in 2011, Smith hopes the Republican National Convention July 18-21 can be the stage for his breakout role — as a speech reciter.
Smith, who works as a programmer at MediQuant in Brecksville, is among the more than 2,200 businesses, service providers and entrepreneurs who have signed up with the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee to be an official vendor and a have a bit part in the estimated $200 million of RNC-related spending.
While practicing monologues, the 59-year-old stumbled on the idea of giving famous political speeches in character. "I was looking for a way to brush up on lines," Smith says. "The first thing that came to mind was the Gettysburg Address."
For $200, he delivers speeches by Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Muhammad Ali and others while putting the famous orations in context. He strives for accuracy, sometimes donning costumes and studying the speaker's diction and movements.
While he has yet to land a July gig from the registry, Smith thinks the speeches are valuable.
"They're timeless," he says. "A lot of them talk about freedom, and I think of them as worthwhile to share."
In the meantime, he's brushing up on his Republican-leaning fare, including Reagan's 1987 Brandenburg Gate speech in West Berlin, Germany, in which he declared: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
The speech is particularly meaningful for Smith, who canvassed Akron-area malls for Reagan during the 1980 election. "I just remember sitting there watching TV," he says. "The delivery and positiveness about being an American, it was inspiring."