It's about as surprising a revelation as you can have waiting for a latte.
At the counter at Coffea, Bob Singleton casually mentions that his performance as Dr. Henry Jekyll in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will be his debut at SummerFest.
The mind races back to Singleton's many roles at Actors Guild of Lexington, Studio Players, Woodford Theatre, Balagula Theatre and Shakespeare at Equus Run.
And indeed, as much of a "united theaters of Lexington" as SummerFest — and the defunct Lexington Shakespeare Festival before it — can be, one of Lexington's busiest actors has never performed there.
"I have come close the last several years," Singleton, 40, says, "but sometimes I maybe had just done several things and needed a break, or there was something I wanted to do in the fall."
This time, the schedule worked out right, and a little literary serendipity intervened.
"I bought the book Jekyll and Hyde a few months back," he said. "I always wanted to read it. Everybody's heard about it. I saw the cartoon with Sylvester and Tweety Bird way back in the day."
Patti Heying's production of Jeffrey Hatcher's version of Jekyll and Hyde at SummerFest promises to be more conceptual than Sylvester and Tweety.
Instead of making Singleton do double duty as the good doctor and his murderous alter ego, Singleton plays Jekyll while four of his co-stars play Hyde.
"Jekyll and Hyde can directly confront each other, which doesn't happen a lot," Singleton says. "But what you do have, because this version sets up different from the book, is that Jekyll does struggle with Hyde-like tendencies, and Hyde has the same kind of struggle, so it's almost like parts of the personalities bleeding from one over to another."
The production will be a different endeavor for SummerFest, which traditionally presents shows with large casts. Jekyll and Hyde has just eight players, and Singleton says it will be interesting to see how well the eight of them can fill the open-air amphitheater.
But this is a guy who has been used to fare as traditional as Studio Players' production of A Christmas Story to stuff as experimental as The Wizard of Oz with two men, puppets and a rock band.
Singleton started out in elementary school productions when, in fourth grade at Lansdowne Elementary School, he was cast as John Adams in a play about the Boston Tea Party.
Singleton recalls his mother helping him learn the lines and, "for the longest time, it was more natural for me to be up onstage, whether it was public speaking or a performance, than one on one with people."
So he immersed himself in theater as his family moved from Lexington to Berea, and he then attended Eastern Kentucky University.
While in college, a high school friend, Tara Bellando, encouraged him to audition for 59 Megowan Street, the Actors Guild of Lexington play about the legendary Lexington madam Belle Brezing that traveled to the 1987 Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C.
The experience gave Singleton a taste for testing the possibilities of a stage career.
He transferred from EKU to Berea College and enrolled in the theater program, where he met Leonidas Kassapides. Together, the pair worked on experimental and absurdist fare like that Wizard of Oz with puppets.
"It was a blast," Singleton says of the show the pair presented at Lexington clubs, "because it was just the two of us with some shadow puppets and a live band. Some people might have come for the show, but a lot of people just got caught up in it."
The experience showed Singleton different possibilities for theater beyond straight comedy and drama.
After college, he moved to Atlanta to forge a stage career but was frustrated by the business of having to sell himself.
"I wasn't very good at it," Singleton says. "And I started to not like doing the shows, which is really why I got into it."
Eventually, Singleton went to graduate school for communications at Georgia State University and came home to Kentucky, where he now works in the University of Kentucky College of Education managing the scholarship program and advising service.
It's a job that has allowed him to employ some of his theatrical and communications talents on videos and podcasts. The job also allows him plenty of time to work on theater.
In addition to onstage work, Singleton directs frequently, including a noir-style version of The Mousetrap at Studio Players in 2006. He also serves on Studio's board, including a stint as its president.
"He is a tireless worker for theater in Lexington," says actor Melissa Rae Wilkeson, who frequently appears at Studio, including the current production of Always ... Patsy Cline.
Singleton credits his performance as George in Actors Guild's 2005 production of All My Sons as a breakthrough for him.
"It's a great role," he says of the character who at a pivotal moment reveals the main character's lies. "First, you're talked about for the whole first act, because they know you're coming in and you're going to be pissed. It's like Waiting for Godot, but with a better ending. So the audience is waiting, and then you come in and raise hell, there's a lot of conflict, a lot of emotion, then there's a huge revelation and then you leave, and they have to deal with all the wreckage."
That and AGL's status as the area's lead theater helped raise the profile of Singleton, who has appeared in a number of Actors Guild shows, including Arcadia and The Pillowman last year.
The latter was directed by Singleton's favorite collaborator, AGL associate artistic director Eric Seale.
The duo also has worked on that noir production of The Mousetrap and Balagula Theatre's Surprise Theatre at Natasha's Bistro.
With all of those venues on his résumé, Singleton looks forward to making his SummerFest debut.
"It's a different crowd," he says of the audience and atmosphere. "I'm not used to performing for 500 or 700 or even 1,000 people."
Under the summer skies, Singleton might see his star rise even higher.