In Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Theater, faculty members teach by example. Kevin Inouye and David Vegh are the latest to bring their talents to the national stage, each acting in Paramount Plus’ Mayor of Kingstown.
Tackling themes of systemic racism, corruption and inequality, the show follows the powerful McLusky family of Kingstown, Michigan, where incarceration is the only thriving industry. The series provides a stark look at the family’s attempt to bring order and justice to a town that has neither.
Ready, set, action
Vegh plays a psychiatrist who interviews Michael Beach’s character to see if he’s mentally fit to go back to work after being sexually assaulted by multiple inmates during a prison riot.
Beach’s character convinces the psychiatrist he’s fine and doesn’t feel a desire to seek any retribution on the prisoners who assaulted him, so Vegh’s character gives him the go ahead to return to work—and, according to Vegh, “as you might suspect, it does not go well from there.”
“The director really encouraged us to take our time with the scene and play it at a very life-like pace that felt more like a movie,” Vegh explained. “The majority of the TV that I’ve done feels more rushed and ‘run and gun,’ so it was nice to feel like you really had the time to stretch out and actually act.”
Meanwhile, Inouye’s character is the captain of a boat that one of the protagonists stops on Lake Erie. The protagonist thinks Inouye’s character is smuggling drugs, but his more experienced partner knows the boat captain is just trying to dodge the tariff on maple syrup coming from Canada to the United States.
Inouye felt as though multiple aspects of his life came together while filming his scene on Lake Erie—from childhood fishing trips out of Ocean City to his experiences as a stunt performer, gun wrangler and theatrical firearms safety instructor, (for, during filming, people were pointing real guns at him not long after the tragic incident on the set of Rust).
“It was just a fun day—we were out on a boat all day, with other boats, and a helicopter,” Inouye said. “The weather was nice, the people were nice, the production company took good care of us.”
Inouye and Vegh are no strangers to stages or film sets. Inouye has appeared in many lower budget independent projects over the decades, as well as commercials, live theater productions and other projects. He also had a stunt role in AMC’s TURN: Washington Spies, as well as a union cavalry role Lincoln.
Meanwhile, Vegh acted in his first TV show in 1995 when he was 25 years old—an episode of Picket Fences. He’s since appeared in the pilot episode of Grey’s Anatomy and episodes of the hit shows Dexter,House, and Saving Private Ryan. He also has roles in two upcoming films, Shirley with Regina King, and the LeBron James high school biopic, Shooting Stars; and will shoot a small role in a Barry Levinson film starring Robert DeNiro this semester.
Though experienced actors, Inouye and Vegh are continuously learning while on set—and bringing that knowledge back to their students at Case Western Reserve. In this latest example, Inouye said his role brought a new perspective to some of his theatrical firearms knowledge since they were in a pretty unusual situation.
“The boat was small, so most of the crew, including the armorer, were almost never on the same boat,” said Inouye, who teaches movement, acting and stage combat at the university. “It’s not a situation I’d considered before.”
Vegh’s experience filming only reinforced what he knew to be true—when working on film or TV in a supporting role, he’s there to do one thing: Support.
“[I understand] it’s not about me and my performance and more about how what I do affects or reflects on the series regular character that I’m playing opposite,” he said.
Vegh explores that topic and more in the courses he teaches, including his beginning and advanced-level “Acting for the Camera” courses, which he said aren’t offered in many acting programs. When they are, instructors tend not to have much legitimate experience working in the medium. Unlike the instructors at CWRU.
“While I love teaching acting for both stage and screen work,” Vegh noted, “there is something unique about watching students experience for the first time the kind of subtle, nuanced and wholly immersive performances they are able to pull off in on-camera work when they aren’t having to be as conscious of playing to a live audience.”