Time in Greater OC: 38 Years
Hometown: Walnut Creek, CA
What are you currently working on?
I currently have a show open at Cabrillo Playhouse (Bell, Book and Candle) and am doing prep work for my upcoming show at Long Beach Playhouse (Ben Hur), that will be auditioning at the beginning of January 2024.
What's been inspiring you recently?
I am always inspired as a new show approaches, especially one that has MANY built-in challenges, such as Ben Hur. Being terrified of directing any production gives me a kick of adrenaline that truly inspires me.
Tell us a story from your childhood that illuminates who you are as an artist.
When I was 10, I saw the touring production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" in San Francisco. I immediately wanted to mount my own production (although I didn't have the faintest idea what that meant). I had the Broadway Cast Recording and tons of Peanuts comic books, so I put together a series of scenes and songs from the show and books, cast my neighborhood friends and began rehearsing. Luckily, my elementary school principal thought it was great and supported us by scheduling a couple of performances at the school (and even at a few neighboring schools. I directed (and played Charlie Brown). We were AWFUL, but I was hooked for life.
What's the craziest thing you have ever needed to do for theatre?
While in summer stock, with a week's rehearsal for "Born Yesterday," I had to improvise through an expository monologue to cover the 20 minutes of opening dialogue that the lead (totally frozen and lost on lines) skipped. It was nuts... and a blast.
Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
The name that immediately comes to mind is Alan Alda. I loved his ability to mix comedy with pathos and have always tried to incorporate that into my performances.
In directing, I would say Mike Nichols. He was brilliant!
What kind of theatre excites you?
I love environmental theatre of all kinds. Audience participation is not always practical or justified to a production; but, when it is, it's a thrill.
Outside of a theatre, what's your favorite hot spot in Orange County?
I'm 65! I can only hope to visit a warm spot now and then.
What surprises you the most about your role in the theatre community?
That it's lasted so long and been so varied. I've played every sort of theatrical role over the past 38 years in OC and enjoyed every minute of it.
What advice do you have for theatre artists just starting out in Orange County?
Work in as many production, with as many different people, at as many venues as possible. They all have their different styles and you learn from every one of them (even the bad ones).
Go ahead, promote your things...
I'm on Facebook (Gregory Cohen) mostly and, any time I have a production or workshop coming up, I torture people relentlessly on that.