A difficult period in Chase Padgett’s life began with a breakup, continued with a period of “unhealthy habits” and followed with a heart attack six months ago at 34.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” says the man who’s bringing his one-man performance of Nashville Hurricane to Vancouver Island for a pair of shows later this month.
“Since then I’ve got engaged to a beautiful, talented, smart, amazing woman … that was just a few weeks ago.”
His health crisis helped to change everything, he says in a telephone interview.
“The heart attack was such a wakeup call. I was drinking a lot, smoking a lot of weed, eating very unhealthily and just doing everything I needed to do to not feel so lost.”
These days, he visits the gym regularly, eats far better, is sober and meditates.
He draws on his own experiences and encounters with eccentric folks he’s met along the way as inspiration for the characters he portrays in Nashville Hurricane. As well as playing guitar, Padgett portrays a mother, a mentor, a manager and the six-string prodigy himself as each relates their perspective of Henry Waltrip’s rise, demise, and resurrection.
It’s a daunting challenge for one man alone onstage but that, Padgett indicates, is when he does his best work.
“When things are hard, that’s when I show up at my best. Things have to be pretty demanding before I really show up.”
Nashville Hurricane qualifies.
The show, which includes four demanding guitar numbers, “is the story of a kid who is forced into performing to help support his mom. He hates it, he’s terrified by it, he has crippling stage fright but he’s forced into it by a manager who won’t let him not do it. Then he finally comes to terms with what he is and who he is and is able to find the strength to find his own path.”
Growing up in a small Florida town, Padgett says his mother identified him at an early age as a “ham.” His love of performing really began to develop when he tried improv theatre in high school. “Oh, my God, you can just do this and not need to learn lines,” he remembers thinking at the time.
Asked if he was of those teenagers who drove teachers crazy, Padgett reveals he drove everyone crazy, admitting he “was desperate for laughs.”
He eventually learned how to get them, and was chosen in 2014 to perform a sketch comedy showcase for NBC in Los Angeles.
Padgett’s first big stage break came in 2010 in a one-man show called Six Guitars, which became one of the most successful shows in the history of the North American Fringe Festival circuit.
He still performs Six Guitars and continues to evolve it, saying he just added two new songs. One, called Living Simple, “is my story of how I was infatuated with this life on the road and how it wasn’t sustainable. And now all I want to do is stay with my fiancée at home … I’ve grown up and learned that living simple is a beautiful thing.”
When not touring or auditioning in L.A. he resides in Portland, Ore., where he works with the Curious Comedy Theatre as a writer, performer, improviser, and musician.
Chase Padgett performs Nashville Hurricane Oct. 17 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay and Oct. 18 at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre in Duncan. Check his website for ticket information