On MySpace, I am sent these questionairres by friends. I always do them and then post them in my blog. I usually don't consider them the right material for this blog. But my friend, Lisa, is a BlogSpot blogger, not a MySpacer. And I want to post the latest questionaire here, because I am hoping she will do it, too. I am interested in her answers. And it has to be said: in a world where people ask 'how are you?' and then don't listen when you answer, having someone say they are interested in what you have to say is important.
Are you listening, Lisa?
I also want to say two things on different topics before posting the survey:
1--Dreamgirls the movie knocked me out
2--Steve On Broadway. Thanks for the honour of mentioning me in your column and even linking people to this site. You make me feel good about myself; something that is difficult, at times. I am deeply humbled.
Ok. Here's the survey:
1. What director gave you your first lead?
I don't know if I ever played any leads. I seem to have always been the wisecracking sidekick. In college, my own Pat Dwyer asked me to do a one act he was doing in his directing class. The play was called HOME FREE and there were two characters. I don't remember the name of the other actor. Once out of college, I think I only played two leads--one was Willy Wonka and one was Harold in Harold and Maude. Harold came first and the director's name was Larry Stillings, a wonderful man.
2. What was your quickest costume change?
In THIEVE'S CARNIVAL I had to change from one disguise to another and quickness was, very much, a part of the joke. I was a flapper and then I was a Priest. It took ten seconds and that meant getting out of wig, hat, dress, pumps and lipstick and into a Priest's robe. Under the robe, I was wearing fishnet stockings and nothing else. I put real clothing on for my next scene.
3. Do you have any REAL theatre superstitions?
I always avoided saying good luck and I sort of observed the MacBeth thing. I don't know how to whistle, so whistling in the dressing room was never an option.
4. Biggest screw up?
I was doing LIGHT UP THE SKY and I realized that I didn't have enough prop cigarettes in my cigarette case. I was backstage breaking off tips of cigs so that they would be the right length for the era and I left Kacie Ahmanson onstage, waiting for me, for several minutes.
5. Most annoying theater pet peeve?
Actors who goof while onstage. If you aren't in character, you aren't in the scene.
6. Who have you never worked with that you've always wanted to?
I no longer remember what it is like to deisre to act with a certain person. I know what it is like to want to photograph someone I admire but to act with someone.. No. I don't remember. I can say that I would like to do CLOSER with Pat and Jennifer Houston. And I would go to an acting class just to get to play a scene with Vince Gatton.
7. Do you/have you ever had/have a theater crush?
Of course I have had theater crushes. But I get crushes all the time. It's just a crush. As far as theater crushes go, it's part of the game. If you are onstage acting with someone and they are really talented, it's impossible to not get swept up in their charisma. Then, there are the base crushes: that requires a really good lookin co worker. I can get the talent crush on just about anyone..assuming they have talent.
8. What actors/actresses do you admire most?
Do I name famous people? Or people whose artistry I have witnessed up close? I always loved watching Pat act, truthfully. I acted with him once or twice and it was heavenly. I think Pat and I both feel the same way about the same person, with regards to our favourite actor, though: it's Vince Gatton, the most honest actor I have ever watched, up close and personal. He has the kind of talent that makes me admire my favourite famous folk. He has Judi Dench's honesty, Judith Ivey's depth, Donna Murphy's comic timing and Denis O'Hare's individuality.
9. Who is your favorite director to work with?
I don't remember this sensation.
I never worked with a choreographer that I enjoyed.
11. Musical Director?
12. What was your most uncomfortable costume?I don't think I ever wore a costume that was wildly uncomfortable. It's not like I was ever put in burlap underpants or anything. Even when I played Mr Beaver in THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, I wasn't uncomfortable. I was almost naked in ONDINE, I had the high heels in THIEVE'S CARNIVAL, I was almost naked in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, I looked like a showgirl in THE MOUSETRAP (the Kyle MacLaran version)....there were always interesting costumes. But no uncomfortable ones. I will say this: I MADE one of my costumes uncomfortable. I was doing TWELFTH NIGHT and I hated one of the many outfits I had to wear. I was playing a soldier/officer and the costumer had me in combat boots, shorts that went down to the knee, a turtleneck, a marine shirt, a beret, sunglasses and a waist sash that was ten feet long--the sash wrapped around me and tied to hang down one side. All that material made me look like Humpty Dumpty. So I rolled the waist of the shorts up to expose my legs from mid-thigh to ankle, and I pulled the sash real tight to cinch in my waistline, then tied it. I couldn't breathe. But I looked like a stripper; and the part wasn't big enough for any depth--looking good was paramount.
13. If you could dance like anyone, who?
Ben D. Wright.
14. Have you ever been cast in a role you thought was wrong for you?
God, yes. I never should have played Harold in HAROLD AND MAUDE. I also should not have played Schupanzig in BLACK COMEDY. Otherwise, I was pretty much on target with most of the parts I played when I was acting. I was once sent in to read for a stage version of CARNAL KNOWLEDGE. I had never seen the film. I was given scene to study for the audition; I read one page of dialogue and told the auditors that I was sorry for wasting their time, that there was no need for me to audition and I left.
15. What was your strangest audition?
I went to this ridiculous audition for a production of WEST SIDE STORY where Dani Livingston made us all do this dynamic group improv (after giving us a five minute lecture on the fact that this is not a musical comedy and telling us what it was really about). We were all assigned groups (Jet or Shark) and told to interact. I was off in the corner of the stage with Todd Hart (he being a Jet and I, a Shark) talking about real life and Natasha Harper walked up to us and said "Are you guys improving or gossiping?" and we said we were gossiping. She said "good, I hate improv. What are we talking about?" A few days later I was offered a part and the job of dance captain. I said absolutely not. I said that for three days because Livingston kept calling. I did NOT do that show. Natasha ended up playing Maria.
16. What is your favorite audition song?
I always sang SIMPLE. It is my favourite song, period.
17. Have you ever dated anyone you met at the theater? Did it work?
I met Pat Dwyer in the green room of the drama department at NTSU. I've been looking at his face every morning for over 20 years..
18. Is there any role youve played that you think you could play better now?
Most of them. Even though I no longer act, I am a much better actor now than I was in my youth. I understand so much more. Most of the time, I did pretty alright. I don't think there is a lot more that I could bring to the Priest in JEFFREY, or Dr Barry in AND THE STARS WERE SHINING--definately not to Christopher Wren in THE MOUSETRAP. But, given another shot at Larry in BURN THIS or Willy Wonka or Larry in THE BOYS IN THE BAND, oh, yeah. I would never even consider being in APPLAUSE again, so that's not an issue.
19. What is your dream role?
My ethnicity and age aside: I always wanted to play Mozart in AMADEUS or George in SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (you would have to also put aside my lack of musical ability) because I understand the characters' quests as artists. I understand the obsessive nature of their work and the sense of loss based on the perception of failure. I would love to play Contini in NINE because (again) of the nature of the artist's quest but also because of the character's situation of being in love with three people at the same time. There is also that glorious complex score. I'd love to play either of the men in CLOSER because they are parts that no one would ever see me doing and because I would love to wrap my tongue around those words. I would leave behind my work as a photographer and be an actor again to play Reverend Shannon in NIGHT OF THE IGUANA.
20. Have you ever worked backstage?
Not really. I would be a danger in a backstage position, except for dresser, which is the only backstage work I HAVE done. I was good at that but only because it involved clothing.
21. If you could have any job on Broadway, what would it be?
I think I could pull my weight as an actor on Broadway. An actor in a play. I could, no longer, perform in a musical.
22. What is the WORST CT production youve seen (you can give the show without the theater if you want).
I saw a play at the Pocket Sandwich Theater called GOLDEN CITY that almost put me in my grave. My friend was the choreographer and I appreciated her work in a production that the community called GOLDEN SHITTY. Of course, it was as bad as the production of HAROLD AND MAUDE that I did in the same theater.
23. Most painful theater experience?
As an audience member? Probably THE GREEN BIRD on Broadway. As an actor? Literally painful? Dancing in a production of MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. My costume was skimpy and the set was covered in burlap.
24. Have you ever had sex in a theater? I have not.
25. What is the favorite role you've played?Larry in BURN THIS.
26. Every actor in CT has a "junk food" weakness whats yours?
Cheetos. I try not to eat them but I have to say, if they are in the room, I am in a danger zone.
27. Do you have a favorite rehearsal outfit?
I don't think I did.
28. What show have you never seen/done that you wish someone would do?
I would love to see ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.
29. What is your favorite venue to perform in?
I don't perform now.
30. What is your favorite venue to SEE a show?
I'm with my friend Matty, who sent me this quiz: I love me The Shubert on 44th street.
31. What is your proudest theater accomplishment?
I, honestly, think it was the one night only performance in JEFFREY. We had four days rehearsal for a staged reading that was a benefit. Everyone onstage had to hold scripts but I could not do what I needed to do with that character, with a script in my hand. I made myself learn that text and I went out for that one performance and I hit one out of the park. It was the one time in my life that I wished I had had a single curtain call because I knew I would be ovated. It was a company call. I continue to not know what it is like to applauded, singly.
32. What is your biggest mistake?
My biggest mistake was allowing my emotions to be controlled by what other people thought. I wish I had been the kind of actor who showed up and ran roughshod over everyone and then had to be forgiven because I gave a performance that knocked everyone out. I think I could be that person today.
33. What show could you never see again and not miss?
FORUM. I have seen tooooo many FORUMS. Also, BEYOND THERAPY. Too many.
34. Whose singing voice do you enjoy listening to? Theatrically?
Mister Brian d'Arcy James. It is pure gold.
35. What is your fondest theater memory?
Every time I ever worked with Laura Wells. THE LION IN WINTER. HAROLD AND MAUDE. CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE. If we were acting together or just doing a production together in other capacities, it was sheer joy. It was like coming home. And there was this time in college when Pat and I were asked to do a scene from my favourite play, THE LION IN WINTER: he was Henry and I was Philip and it was the most complete acting experience of my life.
36. What do you enjoy most about being in CT?
I am not in community theater or any other kind of theater, as a worker. I do miss the commaraderie.
37. Are there any theater companies you wont work with ever?
I don't think so. I'm so far out of the loop. I will say this: in the old days, it would have taken a lot to get me to work with the Dallas Alliance Theater. And after my experience with Janet Farrow and The Classic Theater Company, I wouldn't go back to them.
38. Ever been left hanging onstage?
I don't think so. If so, only for a moment.
39. Any regrets?
I wish I had taken it more seriously. When I was young I had a rather haphazzard approach to my career because I was busy trying to get my personal life in order.. Had I been more focused, I might have done a better job at it.
40. Have you ever taken a role as a "favor"?
I did the play APPLAUSE as a favour to Shirley Conley. I did not enjoy doing the play, though there were pleasant moments. The cast was unpleasant and the production was a train wreck. I did the play AND THE STARS WERE SHINING because Bobby McGuire asked me to replace an actor they lost. It was fun (at times) and trying (at times) but I did meet Steve Spraragen, Howard, Niceto, Caleb, Malan and Guy Smith and that is one big-ass pay off for one little favour. Totally worth it.
41. What is the biggest sacrifice you've made for a show?
I sacrificed a great deal of sanity to do the play MARRIAGE with the Classic Theater Company. I would come home from rehearsals and weep.
42. If you could direct your dream show, what would it be?
I'm not really much of a director. I don't think I have what it takes to helm a production. Too many people to deal with.
43. When was the last time you were on stage?
Four or five years ago for AND THE STARS WERE SHINING.
44. Have you ever won an award?
In college I won an award for directing a bang up production of THE MOUSETRAP. It had style.
45. Is there anyone with whom you will refuse to work?
IF I were an actor and IF the circumstance presented it, I would not work with a man named Ed DeLatte. He is evil incarnate.
46. If you were to walk away from theater tomorrow, which friends have you made that you really believe you would take with you and would remain your friends even if they were still involved and you werent?
Well, this question doesn't really apply to me.
47. Of all the phone numbers stored in your cell phone, how many are theater people?
Most of my friends are involved in the arts.
48. What is your most random prop story?
I don't think I have one.
49. What is your most random set story?
I had to hide in a water barrel for 20 minutes in summer heat, just to make an effective entrance as Huck Finn in TOM SAWYER. I almost passed out.
50. What would make you stop doing the theater?
Over the years, when people ask me why I stopped acting, I have always said the same thing: "I found something better". I meant my life as a photographer. I will tell the absolute truth, now:
I stopped acting because I was uncastable. I was too efete and too ethnic to play any leads in the theater community of the 80's in Dallas, Texas--the buckle of the bible belt. I couldn't get the parts I wanted. I couldn't sing well enough to get into musicals and I wasn't focused enough on dance to get the gigs that required me to dance. I will not lie: I was a great actor. But only one who could play Christopher Wren or Larry or Willy Wonka: fags and characters. I wanted to play leads and I couldn't get them. So, finally, tired of the struggle and the rejection, I was considering retiring. My photography was doing alright -- I would still have an artistic outlet. Then, a close friend of mine who had a theater company did something that closed the deal for me.
For almost a year, my friend had been telling me to come audition for a Moliere play. I always insisted that I couldn't do Moliere, that I was better with modern plays. After much persuasion, I did go to the audtion and I gave a bang up performance, reading for a secondary character. I was called back for the lead. I was put through many hoops and I got through them, with ease. I did not get the part. This didn't bother me. I had gotten used to this routine. However, my friend cancelled our weekly breakfast date on me. Then she cancelled another social engagement with me. She did so for three weeks. She stopped calling me--I assumed because she couldn't face me. I never got the call saying "thanks for auditioning but we aren't hiring you". I did get the call to set up the photo shoot for the play, though.
When faced with the question of whether or not I wanted to act or wanted to retain friendships without conflict, I decided that friendship was more important. If auditioning for friends meant they were going to avoid me when they couldn't hire me, then I needed to stop auditioning. So I did. I quit acting because of that friend's behaviour and I never looked back.
These days, when I think about my past life as an actor, when I think about my part time life as a photographer, when I think about my full time life as an executive's housespouse, I can say, with full conviction:
I found something better.
please note that the photo above was a publicity still from AND THE STARS WERE SHINING, the last play I performed in. the cast seen is Steve Spraragen, Niceto Festin, Malan Breton, Diana Brown and myself. Caleb Lane Wray was featured but not available for this photo. I do not know the photographer's name.