James Arrington: Mormon Actor
James W. Arrington is an actor, playwright, and director well known for his one-man shows Here’s Brother Brigham, The Farley Family Reunion, and J. Golden. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Arrington caught the bug to act at an early age. When he was fourteen, he attended a National Boy Scout Jamboree in Pennsylvania. He recalls:
- In those days I was urgently trying to find a way to be “cool” and had discovered that I could do an English accent, hence my nickname “Crumpets” or “Crumps” for short. On the way out I was using the accent to chat with my fellow Scouts and another Scout chimed in with his English accent. We commenced a little game of it and a strange little comedy team was born: “The Adventures of Irving and Seymour.” We entertained on the bus, at campfires, and with other troops, and we were finally nominated to represent our troop at our area talent show. We won first place. My mother said I went away one little boy and came back another.
His first foray into directing came while he was in high school. When the music teacher, who had partially cast Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, decided to cancel the production. Arrington insisted that the school go ahead with the show and that he would direct it if she didn’t. He ended up directing most of it.
Arrington credits reading The Rummage Sale by former Brigham Young University professor Don Marshall as the inspiration for his one-man shows featuring the Farley family, which Arrington started performing in his early twenties. Marshall’s book featured vignettes about family members and served as a framework for Arrington’s characters. He retired the Farley Family in March 2014, but the play inspired the book Aunt Pearl's Family Reunion Book: Personal Pointers on "How to 'Farley-Up’ Your Family Reunion" Reunion Book.
To write Here’s Brother Brigham, Arrington tapped into the research of his father, Church historian Leonard J. Arrington, and other books he recommended. He performed the play hundreds of times for a wide audience.
Arrington trained at the Actor’s Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and earned his master’s degree in theatre and cinematic arts from BYU. He has appeared in numerous regional theatre roles, including Merlyn and Pelinore in Camelot, Alfie Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Alceste in The Misanthrope, King Lear in King Lear, Damon Wildeve in Dance on a Country Grave, Marcellus and Gravedigger in Hamlet, and Le Bret in Cyrano de Bergerac. He also had roles in two Disney videos, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and Petronella.
Arrington lent his voice talents to animated film productions, including The Swan Princess series as Chamberlain. He was one of the lead voice talents in the animated film Samuel the Boy Prophet and several other Bible-themed animated features produced by Richard Rich.
Throughout his career, he has written for stage, radio, film, pageant, and puppetry. He has directed and produced plays, musicals, and operas, including The Mikado, Grease, A Doll’s House, Summer and Smoke, Leader of the Pack, Promised Valley, Shenandoah, Enchanted April, Farewell to Eden, Showboat, Charlie’s Monument, Threads of Glory, Othello, Fiddler on the Roof, Taming of the Shrew, The Boy Who Loved Monsters and the Girl Who Loved Peas, Gianni Schicchi, Beauty and the Beast, The Old Maid the Thief, and Tartuffe.
Arrington was the founding chair of Utah Valley University’s Theatrical Arts Department in 2000 and served as chair on three subsequent occasions. He is an associate professor of theatre arts. He is also the owner and operator of James Arrington Productions.
He and his wife, Colleen, live in Orem, Utah.Mormon Artist interview with Arrington