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STARTING OUT

How did you get started in theater?
When I was in sixth grade.  The High
School was doing a production of
"Oliver" and my sister wanted me to
do it because she was a senior, and
this would be our last chance to do
a show together. (In school that is...
and I'm glad I did, because it was our
first, last and only time!) After that,
it just kind of stuck.

What hooked you?  What inspired you
to be where you are today?
I got hooked, I think, when I sang "Somewhere" for my SCMEA concert (If  anyone knows what that is). That's the first time I realized that maybe I
could sing.  As far as the inspiration goes, for me, it's ongoing.  I am consistently inspired by things everyday that make me say, "Hey, I'm gonna
sing a song about this RIGHT NOW!!!"

What was the first play you ever saw?  Ever performed in?
First two musicals, I believe, was a weekend of shows, Annie and A
Chorus Line.  I fell asleep during both! Except, I remember VIVIDLY Val's
song... The first SHOW I ever performed in was in 2nd grade, and I was
annoyed even then, because I was only the SUPPORTING role!  I played a mouse.

Did you study acting?
Yes, I studied acting for five years at Hofstra...I wanted to stay there
until I got it right...or until I passed Math.

What was your first audition?
I believe either that play where I was a mouse or "Oliver"

How do you choose what play to audition for?
Usually, I just go down for an audition, if I feel there is a part I'm
right for.  There are very rare instances that I will not go down because of
a show I don't like, or a person I would rather not work with, very rare.

What parts do you normally play?  Do you feel you are typecast?
I normally play character roles.  I don't feel like I'm type cast, because those are the roles that I feel are not only logical for me to play, but it only strengthens my abilities to play those roles in the future.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd love to play Che in "Evita", but I'm realistic.  (I'd probably play Eva before I'd play Che anyway!)

How do you feel about precasting?
Well, considering I've precasted before and have been precasted before, it would be pretty hypocritical of me to say I don't believe in it.  My only  advice is, don't do it very often, don't do it with the same person over and over again, and, most importantly, be up front about it.  Put it in your audition notices, put it on all the papers AT the auditions, put it wherever you can to let the people know it's cast.  Otherwise it's just a waste of the actors time, and it puts a bad taste in their mouth for future productions you might have had them for.

Do you feel like you get cast in the same type of roles repeatedly?
Well..yes.  It's more difficult for me to answer this one, because I am
SUCH a specific TYPE, and very rarely do I myself branch out in a different
direction.   If a director sees me in a different type of role, great, I'll explore it, but I'm afraid I sometimes pigeon hole myself!  More my fault than anyone else's.  Well, actually, it's my music teacher's fault from High School, but that's between me and my therapist!


CHARACTERIZATION

What is your approach to developing your character?
I don't have one.  I just do it.  I've tried the other methods, and they do work for me, but usually, I just go with the flow.  But, I believe whatever works for you, that's what you should go with.

Of all the characters you have portrayed, who is your favorite?
My favorite would have to be Robert Anne in "Nunsense, A-Men"... there is just something about that role for me.  It's that unexplainable feeling that gets inside and makes all the other day to day crap worthwhile.

What do you think were your best roles? Your worst?
The roles I am most proud of are the Mother Superior in "Nunsense A-Men" and Pseudolus in "Forum".   I hate to use the word "worst", so I will use "roles I would have liked to improve upon": If I could do Sancho in "Man Of La Mancha" over again, I would.  

What roles offered you the greatest challenges and why?  How well do you think you met the challenge?
My greatest challenge was definitely playing Pseudolus in Forum.  That is a MOTHER of a role.  How well did I meet that challenge???  Mentally, it gave
me a lot of anxiety.  It was probably my biggest role to date.  But, I felt I met the challenge by working my ass off and trying to do the best job I could.

What roles do you wish you could get a second shot at?
See "Sancho" above! haha

What roles or types of roles would you like to play in the future?
Would love to play Bud Frump in "How to Succeed", Gerald in "Me and My
Girl", and would like to do a lot more straight shows.  I don't sweat as much
doing those!


MOTIVATION

How do you feel when you perform?
I get extremely nervous when I perform.  I try to calm myself down, but it never seems to work. In fact, I get so nervous, I usually can't go out onstage without something like a blue Halls cough drop in my mouth to give me
moisture to sing! (I store it in my cheek).  I usually try to use that energy to my advantage when I go out onstage.  You're probably saying right now,
well WHY are you doing it then??  Well, it is an addiction of sorts, but also, the state of accomplishment and bliss I feel afterwards is just as great as the anxiety before.

What motivates you to keep on doing what you're doing?
Because I couldn't possibly do anything else and feel complete.  It may
sound cliche, but it's true.  Because it defines me. (You can all roll your
eyes here!  I know I am!)

During opening night jitters, each one of us has said, "Why do I do this
to myself?"  Why do you do it?
Well...what else is there to do??


SHARING

What is your favorite theater story?
One of my favorite theatre stories is during "Into the Woods".  I was
watching  from the lighting booth.  They were about to do "Your Fault", and,
as the witch and Cinderella were tugging at Jack, his "Bonnie Franklin" wig
popped off and hung there for a good 15 seconds before he realized. It was
just him and his wig cap. Now, you know how hard that song is to sing that
song when you're in the moment of it!  Imagine trying to press on after
seeing that!

Did you ever miss an entrance, drop enough lines for it to be noticeable,
crack up on stage?
Not sure about the entrance thing, but I've definitely dropped lines and cracked up!  My early 20's were built on cracking each other up onstage. That phase, thankfully, has passed. (more or less...)


OTHERS

Why do you perform at the theatres you do?
To get jobs, to meet people, to explore each theatre and see what makes
it different, unique.  There is such a personality to every place I've worked.

Do you think regional theater will continue to grow on LI?
I hope it does.  There are so many talented people on this island who truly love to do theatre and having an outlet for that is so vital to the community.

Who are some of the actor's you've most admired or have been particularly
rewarding to work with?
I've made some of my best friends from Long Island theatre, and other
friends along the way, and all of them have their own special talents.  
However, going on professionalism alone, I'd have to say I was/am most
impressed with the work ethic of Emily Nadler Klein and Jeff Sanzel.


LIFE ISSUES

How do you maintain your career and do theatre?
Luckily, right now theatre is my career, so maintaining is relatively easy.  However, if there ever comes a day where I will have to maintain the two, there would be no question.  It's like providing for your family or child.  It just gets done! 

Why do you spend so much time toiling in L.I. theatre?
To hone in on my craft.  I can't think of a better way to oil your chops then getting the opportunity to play wonderful and varied roles, roles you might not even be considered for if you were doing this professionally.   Also, I love the sense of community. 

Do you find that your family supports your love of theater?
Absolutely.  No question!

How has performing enriched your life?
Performing allows you to be someone you would never, ever be.  You can
be mean, you can be sweet, you can be evil, you can be magical, old, young,
royalty, peasant.  You can be anything you want to be.  Acting is the grown
up excuse for playing dress up!!!  Also, I mean, how therapeutic is it to
smack someone onstage???? You get out your aggressions, and you can't be blamed for it!!!


FUN

What brings you the greatest joy?
Family, friends, performing, and unconditional love

What really irks you?
Family, friends, performing, and unconditional love

Is it true you'd really rather be rich than good looking?
NOO!!!! But, thank goodness I'm both, so I don't have to choose!

What is your favorite word?
ENCORE!!

When you reach the pearly gates what do you want St. Peter to say?
Do you want to Super Size that?
An Interview with...
Robert Anthony Jones
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Rob Jones as Mr. Paravicini
The Mousetrap April 2001 Theatre Three
photo by Fred Richards