In September of 2012, we got to see Michael Smallwood go shirtless as Mace in PURE Theatre’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. And we loved it … for more reasons than one.

The play is a comedy that highlights racism in the world of professional wrestling. Chad Deity is the head honcho — think The Rock back in the day — and Mace was his lovely prop. His very specific job title was to make Deity look like a damn good wrestler at all costs. Mace got tired of playing back-up, and things go from there. The play won the 2011 Obie Award for Best New American Play, and the New York Times named it the Best Play of 2011. Most importantly, we here at the City Paper gave it rave reviews.

In fact, Smallwood was so spectacular, he was asked — actually begged — to reprise the role of Mace in Charlotte’s production of the play.

When he was originally recruited, Smallwood was unable to accept because he’d made other plans. Case closed.

Except it wasn’t, because months later Smallwood was contacted again. This time, they told him they’d push the production date back a week if he’d pretty please accept the role. Now he’s in Charlotte reprising his role as Mace in Chad Deity, and he’s noticed some differences from the Lowcountry version.

“The experience has been quite different,” says Smallwood. “A different director, a different performance space, a new cast with new experiences and takes on the role.”

He realized it was bound to be different, especially because the cast and crew had already begun working on the show months before he arrived. But they like him, and he likes them, so it’s all good.

“The cast and crew have been absolutely great about working with me,” says Smallwood. “They’re all really talented artists.”

He says the biggest difference in the Charlotte production has been the wrestling. “In this production, I actually get to wrestle a full match before the show even starts,” he says. “I’m Iron Man!”

Smallwood put a lot of pressure on himself to rise to the challenge, but it’s paid off because the Charlotte Observer gave the performance a great review.

Charlotte performances continue through March 23. Find more info here.

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