BWW Interviews: The Bird Watcher, Lane Richins
“Theater is weird. It’s the only place you can walk up to someone and start making out.” Local director and actor Lane Richins recalls his first stage kiss as we talked about his first drama class. The summer before he started high school he moved to a small town in Arizona with only 19 people. He had to bus 25 miles each way to attend the “local” high school. Because of his late enrollment he was left with only a few electives to choose from. He recalls signing up for Technical Drawing and Drama and since he was a “miserable failure” at technical drawing, he pursued a life in the theater. Coming from a religious and conservative background he remembers his first few roles in the theater as a teenage dad and a heroin addict to be quite a shock.
After high school he did a tour of Utah colleges and applied for the Actor Training Program (ATP) at the University of Utah. He didn’t get in right away but was added to the waitlist. Every few days he would call to see if his status had been updated. Finally, he moved up to Salt Lake and made the call “I’ve already moved up here so you should just take me off the list.” and they did. Moving from a town of 19 people to Salt Lake was a bit of a culture shock. “So to deal with that shock, I decided to move to Los Angeles.”
Thankfully for us, he found is way back to Utah and is currently directing Chapter Two with Wasatch Theatre Company. Chapter Two is a play by one of Lane’s favorite playwrights, Neil Simon (Brighton Beach Memoirs and The Odd Couple). After reading Simon’s autobiography, he feels that this show is “not only clever but tied to Simon’s heart.” Of course, he recommends that we should all see it (I did and loved it) but in addition he also strongly recommends In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play currently playing with Pygmalion Productions and Betrayal currently playing with Pinnacle Acting Company. Betrayal closes this weekend but you have until next weekend to make it to Chapter Two and Pygmalion.
And while we are on the topic of Pygmalion, Lane also serves on their board and was kind enough tell us about their next season, before it has been officially announced. They will be bringing back Lady Day with a majority, if not the entire original cast. We also get to see another revival by playwright Julie Jensen called Cheat and A Night with the Family by playwright, Matthew Ivan Bennett.
When asked why he thinks theater is important, he laughed and replied, “That’s a loaded question because I think a lot of things are important. Theater fills our soul and there’s a reason it’s been around a long time. There’s a need to keep our cultural story telling going." And as for advice to those wanting to do what he does, “For me, it gets my heart racing. If it’s the same for you, get out there and do it. Just keep trying. Even if you have no experience, go, learn and keep auditioning. You’re not going to do anything if people don’t know who you are. The best training is experience. I have learned so many different and new things from people like Fran Pruyn, Jerry Rapier, Cassandra Stokes-Wylie, Jay Perry and Mark Fossen.
From A Theater Lover to another:
Megan: “What is your favorite play?”
Lane: “Death of a Salesman, Petrified Forest or anything by Neil Simon. I just love American theater from the 20’s and 30’s.”
Megan “What is your favorite musical?”
Lane: “Oh Man, I’m not a musical guy. But if I had to say, it would be one of the only three I’ve been in – Li’l Abner, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown or Bye Bye Birdie. I also like Les Miz a lot.”
Megan: “If you were one musical or play, which one would you be and why?”
Lane: “If there is a play out there about dudes and binoculars watching birds – that would be me.” Apparently, during the entire telephone interview, he confessed to bird watching.
Megan: “Any parting advice or thoughts?”
Lane “Yes, go see Chapter Two, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play and Betrayal.
To wrap things up, I asked Lane to describe what he does in the theater in one sentence he replied; “My work is always geared towards telling a story. Period. It’s simple but I like simplicity ….and details.” And his response to what he would change if he could wave a magic wand was to “Legalize gay marriage and pot. It’s been long enough.” As you can tell, the conversation was quite an entertaining one.