Constable: Where do you go after being king at Medieval Times?
Actor Dave Gordon of Bartlett started his professional theater career in 1981 as the jester in "The King's Manor," Chicago's defunct but groundbreaking medieval dinner theater. In 2007, he got quite the promotion.
"I got the best job in the world," Gordon says. "I started as king at Medieval Times."
His rise through the ranks of royalty resulted in rousing renditions of Gordon reigning over knights' battles of steeds and swords at the iconic Medieval Times in Schaumburg. The king rode in on a horse, greeted the crowd, commanded the knights and presided over the action from his throne.
Fans would praise him during the cast's post-show meet-and-greet with the audience. Children would ask him if he was really king and lived in the castle.
"Sure. In that tower over there," Gordon would tell them for more than a decade.
Then came a revolution of sorts in all 10 Medieval Times castles nationwide and in Canada.
"They decided we were going to have a queen in charge," Gordon says. Ending 34 years of the castle being ruled by a man, the princess character explained her promotion by announcing "the passing of my father, the king" to the crowd.
"I'm going to say, looking at me," the 63-year-old Gordon says as he strokes his white beard, "the king died of old age."
While some men bemoan the erosion of traditional male power, Gordon embraces the matriarchal new look with a queen and female falconers that started in 2018.
"I really thought it was cool of Medieval Times," says Gordon, a father of adult twin daughters. He has a fondness for strong female characters, and his daughters, Erin and Caty, also act in theater productions. His wife, Mollie, acts. Her son, Zac Clark, is a filmmaker.
Gordon had a nice run as king. The king is dead. Long live Gordon the actor.
"They could have just eliminated us," Gordon says of the actors who portrayed the king at Medieval Times, which often has three shows a day. Instead, Gordon now plays Lord Chancellor, a wise and traditional adviser to the queen. Sometimes, he plays Lord Marshall, the master of ceremonies, who spends about half his time on horseback.
With a career in mortgage banking, Gordon has a job with benefits at U.S. Bank as a senior trainer who works in the classroom and online. But he's taken side jobs as an actor for nearly 40 years.
Growing up in Mount Prospect and Elk Grove Village, Gordon, a gymnast and member of the Forest View High School Class of 1974, didn't get involved with theater until his senior year. He credits then-theater director Judee Ross with igniting his passion.
"She turned me on to acting," Gordon says. "She gave me the bug."
With his mother, Ginie Rood, working in the airline industry, Gordon planned on becoming a commercial pilot. But his less than perfect vision and a glut of pilots returning home from the Vietnam War changed those plans. He studied at Harper College in Palatine instead, where he appeared in "Godspell" under the direction of Mary Jo Willis, founder of the theater program at Harper.
He played Sheriff Bob at the defunct Dry Gulch Dinner Theater in Schiller Park, the gangster Vito at Tommy Gun's Garage in Chicago, and John Adams in a production of "1776." In 2014, he landed the title role as the murderous barber in Harper's production of "Sweeney Todd."
That role was so physically demanding, Gordon gave up his four-decade smoking habit to handle the rigors. For his gig at Medieval Times, Gordon grew a ponytail and his white beard to give him some gravitas.
He was thrown from a horse once -- backstage, of course -- at Medieval Times, but avoided serious injury.
He says his roles at Medieval Times are rewarding, and he hopes to do them for as long as he is able.
"I get to work with horses and tremendously talented athletes," says Gordon, who feeds off the reaction of the crowd. "When their eyes light up, that's the whole thing. It's magical."