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Behind The Scenes
With...Rich McDermott

STARTING OUT

How did you get started in theatre?
At the age of 7 I was "forced" to be a marching wooden soldier in a Holiday Pageant.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. 

What hooked you? School play, Broadway show, etc.
Old movie musicals where some brash young kid would inevitably say, "Hey, let's put on a show!"

What was the first show you ever worked on?
"Peter Pan".

What was first show you ever saw?
Community Theater: "HMS Pinafore." 
Broadway: "My Fair Lady" (the ORIGINAL - I was 12).


WHAT I DO

What is your position on a production?
Favorite: Actor/Singer. 
When Necessary: Musical Director. 
When forced: Director

Describe what your job entails. 
Oy veh!  That's actually it.  My job involves saying "Oy veh" about a hundred times in each rehearsal!

Did you go to school to learn what you do?
Yes, but "on-the-job" training through the years is much more enlightening.


MY THEATER EXPERIENCE

What has been your favorite show to work on?
"Mad Monster Party," something we concocted ourselves which grows each year.  By 2050 it will be as long as "Gone With the Wind" and have over a hundred original classic McDermott comic songs.

What motivates you to keep doing what you're doing?
Bad actors - I keep feeling I'm just on the verge of getting them to be good...

How do you feel about pre-casting?
Depends - When you plan to direct a show it helps if you have a cast already in mind (in case no-one comes to auditions)!  But definitely not fair if it is not known beforehand, for several reasons.  The main reason is you're wasting others' time and gas money, and they'll not want to audition for you again when they find out.  Another bad reason is that your friends whom you've pre-cast will think you're actually hoping someone better comes along.

What was your worst theater experience?
"Grease" for reasons known to several people out there.

What was your best theater experience?
"Grease" for reasons known to several people out there. (Yes!  "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times...")

If you could give one message to ALL of the actors out there, what would it be?
Listen to your director - he or she's trying to make you look good out there.  Of course if the director is a total a**hole this all goes out the window...

If you could give one message to ALL the producers out there, what would it be?
Open your pocketbooks!  When I say I need a red carpet for a drawing room scene, your aunt's old faded blue bath mat just won't do.

If you could give one message to ALL the directors out there, what would it be?
Let the actors show you what they can do before forcing them into YOUR idea of what their characters should be.

If you could give one message to ALL the other techies out there, what would it be?
Accuracy - Nothing worse than a light or sound cue a few seconds too late or early.

Why do you work at the theatres that you do?
Usually because they ask me, but I won't if there have been problems there in the past.


FUN

Do you think Long Island theater will continue to grow?
Have friends in other parts of the country where there's one "regional" theater every 500 miles.  LI has already grown to where there's a theater almost in every community, and more to come.  Love it!

What brings you greatest joy?
Having a plate of lasagna, but what has that got to do with theater?

What irks you?
Michael McAuliffe (Ha ha!  Just kidding, Michael, you know I luv ya like a brudda.  Just wanted to see if you were paying attention...)

If you won lotto tomorrow you would...
Build the McDERMOTT MULTIMEDIA CENTER, with a large theater for community, a smaller theater for children, a movie theater, an arcade, a suite of classrooms for theatrical workshops, and maybe even a bowling alley.  Nice spot already picked out on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown.

Is it true you would rather be rich than good looking?
Neither - would rather be loved.

What's your favorite word?
Gehörsenplatz.

Assuming that there is a heaven, what do you want to hear when you get there?
That Robert Goulet went to the other place...


THE FUTURE

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like the readers to know about?
"For the Love of Mike," my original musical.  CD is recorded, now awaiting copyright from DC.  Aiming for Developmental Reading next season at a prestigious theater company in Manhattan.

What is your dream theatrical project?
"For the Love of Mike" on Broadway.