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An Interview With...Rich Cole


How did you get started in theater?
My sister convinced me it would be a good way to get out of the house.

What hooked you? Was it your first school play-movie-first time seeing a
Broadway Show?  What inspired you to be where you are today?
My parents had a lot of cast albums and acted in some PTA shows.

What was the first play you ever saw?  Ever performed in?
The first play I saw was Carousel at Westbury Music Fair.  The first show I acted in was South Pacific.

Did you study acting?  If not, how did you get into it?
I took some classes after I had done a number of shows, but nothing before I started.


What was your first audition? 
I sang Oh, What a Beautiful Morning to audition for South Pacific because it has a small range, and my sister had the music.  I stared out the window while singing and forgot to take my music when I finished.  Mary Ellen Kurtz was the musical director, but she must have forgotten about it by now.

Speaking of pre-casting, tell us how you really feel about the subject.
If I know about it before the audition, I don't care.

What types of parts do you normally play?  Do you feel typecast?
Comic character parts.   I do feel type cast but I'm used to it by now.


What is your approach to developing your character?
I'm not that deep. I just do it.

Of all the characters you have portrayed, who is your favorite?\
Jud Fry in Oklahoma.

What do you think were your best roles?  your worst?
Best roles: Jud Fry, because I don't usually get that type of role.  Luther Billis, because I do usually get that type of roll, and Nathan Detroit.  Also Jeff in Brigadoon.
Worst role: Sid in Pajama Game.  I knew I shouldn't have done it because I don't have the range to sing it.  I was pretty good, except when I couldn't hit the high notes.  That was embarrassing.

What roles offered you the greatest challenge and why?  How well do you think you met the challenge?
Jud Fry.  I had not played a bad guy up till then.  I think I did pretty well, and at that point in my life I was a miserable bastard so that made it easier to do.

What role do you wish you could have a second shot at and get it right this time?
Lt. Cable in South Pacific if I could be twenty (OK, 25) years younger and hit the high note in Younger Than Springtime.

What roles or types of roles would you most like to play in the future?
Rotten miserable bastards.  Enough with the comedy.


How do you feel when you perform?
Free of all other cares except the next few hours.

What motivates you to keep on doing what you're doing?
Well, actually I've been doing a lot less since getting married and having a son.  When he gets a little older, I'll be back playing the old man roles.

During opening night jitters each one of us has said, "Why do I do this to myself?"  Why do you do it? 
To be in a different place for a few hours.


Did you ever miss an entrance, drop enough lines for it to be noticeable, crack up on stage?
Yes, but lets move on.

What was your worst theater experience? 
I staged managed a production of Gypsy for a psychotic director.  Lost 15 pounds, so it wasn't a total loss.

What's the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you on stage?
I don't want to talk about it.


Why do you perform at the theaters you do?
Now, its convenience.

Do you think regional theater will continue to grow on L.I.?
I hope so.

Who are some of the actors you've most admired or who have been particularly rewarding to work with? Who's the best (in your opinion) that you've done a show with? 
There a so many I don't want to single anybody out.


How has performing enriched your life?
I met my wife through theater.


What brings you the greatest joy?
To tough a question.

What really irks you?
Cell phones ringing during a performance.

If you won LOTTO tomorrow you would.
Have more money.

Is it true that you'd really rather be rich than good looking?

What's your favorite word?

When you reach the pearly gates what do you want St. Peter to say?
Come on in.  Have some halvah.