We're pleased that Frank Creasy, one of the leading actors in Lend Me a Tenor, agreed to talk with us about his experiences on and off stage. Both show shots are from Lend Me a Tenor (the first picture also features Aly Wepplo, the second also features Chris Stewart). This is Part 2 in a three-part interview with Mr. Creasy.
Q - Thanks again, Frank, for responding to all these questions. You've been in a lot of shows, and participated I'm sure in a lot of auditions when you weren't cast. What advice would you give to actors who feel like they audition and audition, and seldom get offered the roles they want?
A - The same advice I give to myself. Be ready to give your strongest audition initially so that you're invited to call backs. Listen carefully to the directions given during call backs. Come prepared to read the character you want to play in a variety of ways, based on what the director asks for. If you get to read several times, try it slightly differently each time. Perhaps most important, be ready to throw out everything you’ve prepared and do something completely different on the fly if requested.
You can’t control whether you’re too tall or short or skinny or fat or young or old for a role. Just be flexible, commit to your choices, and have fun. And by all means, be pleasant, friendly and courteous to everyone in the theatre. No one wants to work with someone who’s a pill or a pain in the neck.
Q - What's most fun about performing in Lend Me a Tenor?
A - I don’t think you'll have enough space to include all the things that are fun. Some highlights: the role (Saunders) is a gem; the script is extremely well written, every single character and scene; the actors I work with are absolutely first rate, top to bottom, and I love and respect what each one of them brings to the production. Our director, Scott Wichmann, put together an amazingly tight, funny, wonderful production, and behind the scenes, our stage manager Rick Brandt and our dresser Caron Sinnenberg keep things running seamlessly.
Q - Other than that Opening Night wine bottle, has anything else funny or unusual happened thus far in the run?
A - Usually things go smoothly, but with that much running around something is bound to happen. One night, as I ran into the bedroom with Max (Nick Ciavarella) in Act II, I pushed the door open and accidentally caught my jacket on the door handle, suddenly getting yanked backwards. In “Saunders fashion” I blamed Max and barked at him as if it was all his fault.
Q - What don't people in the rest of the world realize about Richmond theatre?
A - The vast amount of talent we have here. Truth be told, there are some folks at auditions or in some local productions and, honestly, I don’t believe they're all that wonderful. But then-- and this happens all the time--I'll see someone I've never seen before, and they just impress me greatly with their talent. All in all, it confirms for me how lucky I am to work so often with such talented, interesting, fun people.
Q - Do you prefer comedies or dramas, classical works or contemporary pieces, musicals or non-musicals? Why?
A - TOUGH question, and I know so many actors would say “Oh I love them all” and such...but if I had to choose one, I’d probably say contemporary comedies. I love Neil Simon and I love well written comedic roles and I love to hear audiences laugh, because then I KNOW they’re enjoying it. Hard to tell if they’re enjoying an intense drama until the curtain call and the applause lets you know where you stand.
Doing comedy well is really hard, because timing, delivery, expression and body language all have to come together in just the right way to tickle the vast majority of people. And some of those skills, sorry to say, are innate: you have to feel it. I don't think it can be taught.
Comedies don’t usually win lots of acting awards, but they’re tremendously challenging. They entertain and make people happy. What could be better than that?
(to be continued)