Tron Montgomery is the writer and star of the recent production “Hooked on a Bad Spirit” at the Catherine Hickman Theater. Most mornings, you can find him driving a City of Gulfport sanitation truck.
“Being an actor isn’t the richest profession… my dream has always been a needle in a haystack,” said Montgomery. “So yes, I have a day job.”
The Gulfport resident often finds himself reading scripts on his route.
“Being an actor, I find myself acting like a garbage man. I can drive the hell out of the truck, but there’s so much more to life than being a robot and working.”
Hooked on Theater
“Hooked” is a combination of Montgomery’s experience in Gulfport and a three-part miniseries of plays he’s been tinkering with for over a decade. The show follows seven characters, all named after and based on people he knew in childhood.
An empty spot in the Hickman Theater schedule gave Montgomery’s original work a chance to shine. The original one-night date of Saturday, July 31 sold out almost immediately, prompting an encore show on Friday, July 30.
“It’s not a musical, so every scene has to be seat-gripping, and you can only sing a person to death so many times,” Montgomery said. “There’s a 15-minute intermission, but aside from that I want people to hold their pee.”
A third “encore, encore” showing of “Hooked” was set for Saturday, August 21, but was canceled this week after the female lead tested positive for COVID-19.
The cast hopes to perform the final promised production in October.
“Next time, I’ll definitely have understudies,” Montgomery said. “Lesson learned.”
Originally from Pompano Beach, Montgomery moved to the Tampa Bay area in 2007 to work as an actor in Busch Gardens daily jungle-themed show, KaTonga when he was in his 20s.
The show, and Montgomery’s sock puppet-bearing character “Ayo,” exist now only in memories and a 39-minute recording after the theme park swapped it out for a new crowd draw.
“Since elementary school, I was always a character,” Montgomery said. “I was glad to be a part of it (KaTonga) but I wasn’t done, wasn’t ready to give up yet.”
For the last decade he’s moved on from Busch Gardens to several productions such Universal Studios production of “Beetlejuice,” “Ordinary Days” at the Stageworks Theater, “The Wiz” for the New Tampa Players and a list of other venues and plays.
Last year, Montgomery flew to New York City and tried out for a Broadway production of the Temptations musical, “Ain’t Too Proud.”
He got the callback for a second audition after a prolonged waiting period due to COVID-19, and was already working full time for the City of Gulfport and working on his screenplay.
“There was no stability with it. I thought, ‘Why not bring Broadway here?’” Montgomery said. “I want to put my stamp on this thriving little town.”