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Going from an urban college culture to a rural setting provides a sometimes reluctant learning experience: historically, socially, romantically and artistically. Rustled and panicked runaway horses, unhappy parents of potential girlfriends, tough locals who don't want Don to have any local girlfriends, all contribute to his reluctant growing up.

In The Cast Is Dyed, seasoned actor Don Cosgrove takes you to the beginnings of his widely and wildly diverse career when he was playing a cavalry-soldier in George Armstrong Custer's army at an outdoor historical summer theater in Mandan, North Dakota. A college kid from the big city (read South St. Paul, ha ha), Don gets his first taste of the outside world, the craft of professional theater and the adventures to be had in the seventh largest city in North Dakota. In this semi-fictional actor's bildungsroman (a coming-of-age romance), a would-be Romeo (in both senses) learns to create great theater, avoid the local guys while trying to hook up with the local gals and to survive runaway horses and an arrow to the chest while attempting to convert an outdoor drama into an artistic comedy. From the pastoral setting of North Dakota to international theater in Edinburgh, Scotland, to radio, TV and film, Cosgrove jumps behind the scenes of his broadly varied roles, from one-line parts to leading man and back again, while rediscovering that "All the world's a stage."

Along the way, he tries to explain how being kicked off a baseball team got him into a profession where his wigs fall off, directors stand on his feet, he gets kicked out of school and he eventually gets to pick up all the horse poop he can find.

But he brags that the profession did supply him the opportunity to work with famous actors such as Don Cheadle, Bert Lahr, Craig T. Nelson, Will Geer, and Mariette Hartley, as well as many of the top local St. Paul/Minneapolis performers on stages such as The Jungle, Mixed Blood, Ten Thousand Things, The History and Cricket Theaters, summer stock, outdoor dramas, and dinner theaters. Don tells friends that he's "never worked a day in my life. It's all been play. Both drama and comedies are called plays, aren't they."

The book also explains how and why he wants to be someone else all the time.


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