In 2009, Back Stage reader Bob Leonard was featured in our weekly "Who Got the Part?" column after he was cast as a member of the Timeless Torches, a dance team for the WNBA's New York Liberty. So imagine our excitement when we saw him and the rest of the Timeless Torches in the season six premiere episode of "30 Rock," which aired January 12 on NBC.
In the episode, titled "Dance Like Nobody's Watching," Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) discovers the reason that Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is suddenly in such good spirits: She's joined the Timeless Torches, the over-40 volunteer dance team that performs at Liberty home games. The dancers were seen throughout the episode, both in scenes with Fey and in direct addresses to the camera in the show's final minutes.
"Ms. Fey was warm, friendly, and gracious, and a regular trooper when it came to picking up the dance routine," Leonard says of the experience. "The '30 Rock' crew was totally professional and helpful in every conceivable way."
Leonard is a retired middle-school math teacher who began his acting career just a few years ago, when he started reading Back Stage and attended Back Stage's annual Actorfest NY event in 2008. He saw a casting notice for the Timeless Torches in Back Stage, and decided to dust off his dance moves to audition. Now Leonard is a Screen Actors Guild member, thanks to the team's unexpected appearance on prime time network television.
"As we rode on the subway going home," Leonard recalls, "it was like a brunch of school kids who just did a great play and everyone loved their performance. Each of us was delighted with every facet of the experience."
After studying with acting coach Tom Todoroff and earning his SAG card, Leonard is now proud to say, "I am an actor." He has also been hired as an extra in an upcoming feature film, directed by James Gray ("We Own the Night," "Two Lovers"). Leonard was outfitted for two background roles, one as a "hero" in a tavern scene and the other as a "churchgoer," in the 1920s-era film starring Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner, and Marion Cotillard.
This is Leonard's third season as a Timeless Torch dancer. The Timeless Torches are scheduled to perform at the upcoming Knicks home games on February 6 and February 29 at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
Read more about how Bob Leonard became a dancer for the Timeless Torches on BackStage.com.
Watch Tina Fey's message to the Timeless Torches and check out behind-the-scenes footage from the episode in this video: