An Interview With...Jon Cantor

How did you get started in theatre?
My mom was an actress before I was born. She used to sing a lot in the apartment, and her theatricality must have influenced me. My dad loved the theatre too.  I also went to a private school in Manhattan that had kids of well known show business people.

What hooked you? School play, Broadway show, etc.
I think performing in school probably provided me with that rush of creativity and freedom that still sticks with me today.

What was the first show you ever worked on?
I worked on Christmas shows in grammar school. One of the strangest shows I did at that time was ARIA DA CAPO by Edna St. Vincent Millay! Here we are-- 6th graders, performing this bizarre verse piece. Thinking back on it that may have marked my career for life, as my acting resume contains primarily obscure classics.

What was first show you ever saw?
The first Broadway show I remember was Brian Bedford in SCHOOL FOR WIVES.


What is your position on a production?
I act and direct, hopefully not at the same time, but that has occurred. I am also a college theatre professor, so I may try to teach students as I am directing them as well.

Describe what your job entails. 
I think most people know what an actor does, but surprisingly few outside of the business know what a director does. Maybe that is because you do not see the director. I cast the show, confer with the designers on what the show will look like, run rehearsals, stage the play, and run like hell after opening night.

Did you go to school to learn what you do?
My undergrad degree was in Drama which was a generalist degree exposing me to all aspects of theatre. My graduate degree was unusual - it was in Teaching Acting, which is how I make most of my living.


What has been your favorite show to work on?
I've enjoyed many of the shows I have worked on. I am unsure I have had a favorite. One of the most memorable, that left me with the greatest feeling of post-show depression, was in high school. We did a controversial production of Vonnegut's HAPPY BIRTHDAY WANDA JUNE. It was banned due to filthy language (mostly my character).  It stirred lots of community sentiments, both pro and con. We ended up producing it in a professional theatre. The cast bonding was the first of its kind for me, and I'll always remember how we stuck it out despite all the nay sayers around us.

What motivates you to keep doing what your doing?
Life is short...why do something you're not passionate about?

How do you feel about pre-casting?
As an actor I hate itespecially if I'm not the one pre-cast. As a director, I am against it as well. Why lose a potential unknown at an audition because we're already committed to someone else?

What was your worst theater experience?
Happily, I've blacked out any horrendous experiences from my mind.

What was your best theater experience?
I now feel any time I work is my best.

If you could give one message to ALL of the actors out there, what would it be?
Work hard, have fun, connect with each other.

If you could give one message to ALL the producers out there, what would it be?
It is not all about money.

If you could give one message to ALL the directors out there, what would it be?
Do not play it safe.

If you could give one message to ALL the other techies out there, what would it be?
Watch the play, get to know the actors

Why do you work at the theatres that you do?
Work! Oh yes, and I do like to get paid.


Do you think Long Island theater will continue to grow?
I am sure.

What brings you greatest joy?
My wife, my cats, a good performance, winning at poker.

What irks you?

If you won lotto tomorrow you would...
Buy a nice place in Manhattan, open my own acting studio.

Is it true you would rather be rich than good looking?
Can't I be both?

What's your favorite word?

Assuming that there is a heaven, what do you want to hear when you get there?
Seven card stud hi-low is to your right.


Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like the readers to know about?
No, but I'm up for suggestions!

What is your dream theatrical project?
The next job I get.