What is your role in this production? I play Ben Stone in Follies. Ben is a worldly, well-to-do type who has been primarily driven to be success in his career. He first became a lawyer, then a distinguished politician and eventually the president of a Foundation in NewYork. He and his wife Phyllis have been featured in Vogue magazine. Now that’s he’s in his 50’s he begins to question the choices he made.
What is your background in theatre? At Walterdale? I’ve performed in several productions with the Edmonton Opera Chorus, as well as Pacific Opera Victoria and Pop Goes the Opera. In University I performed in a couple of musicals and several theatre productions. I started off acting in improvised theatre and performed in various venues in Edmonton and surrounding area. This is my first production with Walterdale.
What brought you out for this production? Why did you want to be involved in this show? I heard about this production through a friend of mine who mentioned they were auditioning. I was interested because it looked like a chance to really dive into a character and work on my acting “chops”. Ben’s character is a challenging one as he is complicated and operates on several different levels. Also, this show has been performed in some big houses around the world, so it’s a chance to try and step into some large shoes.
This show is about theatre and nostalgia – got any good theatre stories? I have a theatre story for you. The first musical I was in was in university. It was called Honk! – The Story of the Ugly Duckling. I played a gregarious bullfrog who comes across “Ugly”, the ducking, as he is at his lowest of lows. Ugly is despondent because he’s been shunned by his community and he can’t find his family. I lift his spirits with a music number that basically says “Hey, I’m a bullfrog, and I’m ugly too, but it’s all in how you look at it and there are people who love you no matter what!”
This number turned into a show-stealer with the entire ensemble involved and we brought the roof down every time we performed it. One memorable night was when all my choir geek friends from school were in the audience and screamed in support and delight at the close of the number. It’s an experience I wish everyone could have.
What has been the most challenging part of doing the show? To really do Ben’s character justice has been the most challenging part for me. I wish I could say that acting comes naturally to me but that hasn’t been the case. There have been many hours of rehearsal involved. Thankfully everyone involved with this show has been really supportive. Barb and Michael are really great to work with as well and have a wealth of experience to draw upon and share.
What has been the best thing about doing the show? For me, the reason this show is challenging is also the reason it’s rewarding. The songs that Ben sings are each in a different style and I appreciate the opportunity to work on my craft. Plus the rest of the cast is so talented that I’m constantly inspired to try to “up my game”.
Follies runs July 5-15, 2017 at Walterdale Theatre. Call 780.420.1757 or go to www.tixonthesquare.ca for tickets today!