From finding investors to auditioning actors to securing an available theater stage, Bob Rusch has been busy getting First Look Buffalo Stage Productions off the ground. Now, his group is ready to open COPS AND FRIENDS OF COPS, a play written by Ron Klier, on January 10 at the Elmwood Theatre Lofts.
The play is set in a bar closed to the general public for special nights when the only patrons are police officers.
"An unwanted guest shows up and it becomes a very intense, crime-drama standoff," Rusch explained.
While community issues involving the police have made headlines in recent months, Rusch says "this is definitely not an anti-cop play." The narrative focuses on "redemption" and "forgiveness."
A native of Western New York, Rusch developed an acting career in Chicago and Los Angeles before returning to this area. He also spent several years running a theater company in California.
His acting credits include appearances in "Sons of Anarchy," "Mom" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
"I'm lucky, they have a very strong fandom," Rusch said about the loyal followers of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
His small appearance in season three in 2007 continues to resonate with fans. He played "Doyle McPoyle," a character whose tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles was destroyed by "Frank Reynolds," one of the show's lead characters played by Danny DeVito.
Rusch still hears from fans of the Philadelphia Eagles. He says many use "Doyle McPoyle" as their on-line name. Some jokingly attribute the team's losses to his character's thwarted tryout.
While Rusch laughs about the connection, his focus is now on producing theater in Buffalo.
First Look Buffalo Stage Productions, he says, will "exclusively produce new plays never been seen on the Buffalo stage before."