Versatile and talented, Randall MacDonald enjoys working in all creative forms – stage, film, television, radio, singing, writing, decorating and event planning. His older brother told his parents when he was only four years old to “get that kid on the stage!” The rest is history.
Although equipped with a business degree from the University of Alberta, Randalls’ real calling was to the stage, resulting in roles like Harold Corringe in Black Comedy, Manolo Costazuela in The Odd Couple, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Benjamin Guggenheim in Titanic the Musical, as well as, various parts in musical reviews.
We catch up with Randal on a sunny afternoon in a relaxed Vancouver cafe for a chit chat. He is exuberant, perfectly dressed and groomed, has a child like smile and enthusiasm and light up my afternoon further with his wit and wisdom.
I ask – “At what moment in your childhood did you realize: ‘This is me, and I am not the same as everyone else, I’m special’?”
Randall says he always felt different and like an outsider. – “I was fat and socially awkward which gave kids lots of material for teasing me. Only in my adult years, I came to the realization that I maybe special and it was very freeing. Interestingly, I had always tried to be what I thought people wanted me to be, but it wasn’t until I fully embraced my eccentricities that people were drawn to me. Ironic that while trying to attract people I repelled them and when I stopped trying it was like moths to a flame.”
Childhood had been difficult for Randall what with a verbally and physically abusive mother, strict religious regimen at home, bullies at school, social awkwardness and the fact that he liked men which was the ultimate sin.
”When are you nerdy, socially awkward and then get pulled aside because you can’t participate in social activities, again you are an easy target. I was bullied a lot and often beaten up in school or walking home. I would always feel sick to my stomach about 8:30 every night knowing I had to go back to school the next day.”
How did he deal with the alternate sexual orientation as a child and teen in such circumstances? Was it difficult?
“It definitely was, growing up in a very religious household. When I was young, I liked to dress up in girls’ clothes and play with Barbies. As I was quite an effeminate child, people often thought I was a girl. I always knew I was different and was attracted to men and felt scared about people finding out. I was taught that being gay was a sin, you are going straight to hell. So I lived with an overwhelming fear of being exposed or the end of the world coming; both terrifying prospects. I dealt with this by being a loner. I didn’t have many friends growing up”
Randall, now, is a much sought after high profile event planner, among other things. Many of his elaborate events offering distinctive experiences have received rave reviews by attendees and the press. His extraordinary events are featured in his own TV spots on several stations in both Vancouver and Edmonton. The man we see is wildly contrasting to the introvert he describes himself as. How did he emerge as the flamboyant man the world now sees him as compared to the loner he was? I wonder if his penchant for high life came as a means to ward off his insecurities and be away from intimate scrutiny.
“It began from two things. I loved to watch old movies and I thought that people really still went out at night in tails and top hats to dinner clubs and life was very glamorous. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up and I had a rough childhood. My burning for a better life came from my desire to change my circumstances and to show all those people that mistreated me that I was fabulous.
“Living well is the best revenge!”
It was this effort to find his footing that made him embrace the larger than life style, he says- ” Initially, I wanted to show everyone who didn’t believe in me growing up that I was something and in some ways I am thankful that they gave me that drive. However, at some point they no longer became the reason for my drive. They didn’t matter anymore and I started enjoying achieving things and living a fabulous lifestyle!
You hear people say a lot that they are living a full life, but if you press them, they haven’t even scratched the surface of what life has to offer. One of my favourite characters said “Life is a Banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death”. I love this line and love gorging on life. The goal of life, I think, is to arrive at the grave completely exhausted screaming – What a ride! ”
Randal seems to be having an amazing ride so far. He is a talented interior designer of many exclusive projects. From 2004-2009 Randall performed with the Edmonton Opera appearing in productions including South Pacific, Lakeme, La Boheme and “Filumenia”, the story of the last woman to be executed in Alberta. He also started working as a jazz headliner in the main rooms in Edmonton. A veteran of musical theatre, Randall honed his musical talents on stage, his style reminiscent of a bygone era giving him comparisons to a young Tony Bennett.
Soon, he was seen in TV commercials, training films and made for TV movies including Christmas Blessings, a re-occurring role in the award nominated Tiny Plastic Men series and the Mayor in the national series Delmar & Martar.
Randall says-” my greatest fear is that I will not have the opportunity to do and experience all that life has to offer. There are many things I want to try and achieve. I have a great fear of wasting time. Life is not a dress rehearsal, so what not to try. I’m not a one trick pony and find it exciting to try new and different things; even though sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing when I start and am scared. ”
Where all this busy schedule leaves his partner of many years, Darcy, one might wonder! Randal met Darcy at the clothing store he was working in, of which Randall was a regular customer. Randal had actually seen Darcy in a Halloween Party a couple of years before they finally met at the store. Randal noticed the perfect legs Darcy had and it was only when they started dating that he realized Darcy was his Mr. Legs of the Halloween. The rest is, as they say, a whopping 23 years of togetherness.
Is love and finding a partner important for him?
“I’m not sure that having a life partner is part of everyone’s destiny but do believe love is. We’ve been very fortunate as we like a lot of the same things and so haven’t had many conflicts. After being together for a number of years you really do develop a synchronicity”
What fantasies he harbors, I ask.
“To be rich and famous enough to gain entry into the “right” places and for the “right” people to know who I am, but not so famous that I can’t go out without being mobbed. Oh and to meet Barbra Streisand; the leader of our people!”. Randall is quick to answer.
” I feel like I have made more progress in the last 6 years towards where I am supposed to be than I had made in the preceding years. Recently we began work on my own Lifestyle show called VIPness and we filmed the pilot this year. The show is about experiencing the best life has to offer and some of the situations I find myself in. I have a Bouquet List and it’s about checking these things off too. The two things I want this show to do is to inspire people and give them something to aspire to.”
It’s the time for the final round of questions.
What gives you greatest satisfaction?
Travelling, having amazing experiences not many people are lucky enough to have, and meeting new and like minded people.
What do you look for in your friends?
Similar interests, fun personalities and desire to experience life.
Describe your perfect evening.
A fabulously glamorous party with friends, fine food and fashions, and meeting lots of new and exciting people.
What is the most important thing in life?
Having people around you to support you and defend you. Also, you need to have that one good friend who loves you even when you’re mean, ugly, poor, depressed and bitchy.
Any thoughts on your favourite drink?
Champagne, champagne oh and champagne!
(The world is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death. In Randall’s world, there is never a dull moment and that’s the way he likes it!)