Interview with Kurt Rhoads regarding Everyman Theatre's LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT

Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT is now playing at Everyman Theatre through March 4, 2018. It is not often theater goers have an opportunity to see this masterpiece. Director Donald Hicken has assembled a talented cast which includes a newcomer to Everyman Theatre, Kurt Rhoads. Rhoads has a long and distinguished career appearing on Broadway in JULIUS CAESAR, Off-Broadway in FASHIONS FOR MEN, four shows at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre, and a plethora of productions throughout the country. Rhoads plays family patriarch James Tyrone. Here is an interview with Rhoads.

CS: Welcome to Baltimore. Is this your first time performing in Charm City?

KR: First time for me working in Baltimore and, now that rehearsals are over, I'm happy to start exploring the neighborhoods and visiting thrift stores!

CS: How/when did you get involved with this production? Were you familiar with Everyman Theatre?

KR: I had been intrigued with Everyman Theatre after hearing about the place from Timmy Ray James-a castmate in HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE at Arena Stage. Vincent Lancisi, the artistic director at Everyman, had seen that show in 2000, so we had a little point of connection. The conversation about LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT began following a New York audition and callback.

CS: What about playwright Eugene O'Neill-what is your experience with his work?

KR: I have performed in O'Neill's play, AH, WILDERNESS!, before this-and my wife, Nance Williamson, has twice played Josie in MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN-so I've gotten to live vicariously through that play, as well.

CS: Describe LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and the character you play?

KR: The play is the first great American tragedy-an ensemble play with four amazing parts. Sometimes I think of us as four spiders on a web: one of us moves and the other three are like, "Why did you move? Why did you lift your leg? What's wrong?" But James Tyrone... He's a big-hearted, full-throated Irishman, doing the best he can to hold his family together. His own father abandoned his family when James was just ten years old. The family chaos and poverty that followed were defining scars that would never leave him. Although a popular and well-paid actor, he could never shake the feeling that disaster was around the corner.

CS: How did you prepare for this role?

KR: My wife says I have the MISER part down, and need no further prep on that-and it is true, I do like a dark room [to save electricity]. A dear friend of mine, Anne Gerety, used to wash her paper towels, dry them, and use them again. I tried that and found the second and third uses extremely satisfying! But James Tyrone is a big, daunting role, and I doubt I can do it perfectly. What I am trying to achieve is being hyper-sensitive to my cast-mates. They know my buttons, I know theirs, and there are dozens of uncertain truces and landmines out on the stage.

CS: Describe the rehearsal experience. What can audiences expect from this director/cast?

KR: I so appreciate the sensitivity of our director, Donald. I felt continually encouraged to serve the play, to be transparent to the sufferings of the Tyrones. My own parents have passed away, but I visited them many times while working on this. O'Neill says that it was "written through tears and blood." You can certainly feel the hurt, the animosity, and the hardening of spirit. But, through it all, there is also a soft spot in the heart-a place of deep forgiveness. I think O'Neill loved every scar he had.

CS: Given all of the drama on stage, what is your ritual for winding down after a performance?

KS: Hmmm... After the first preview, I mentioned to Danny Gavigan (Edmund) that I felt like I had just taken a beating. I'm still figuring the unwind out.

According to Everyman Founding Artistic Director Vincent Lancisi: "Completing the family portrait, the amazing Kurt Rhoads takes on the role of James Tyrone--a character whom many refer to as "the American King Lear". It's an epic role that requires a formidable actor, and Kurt is perfect for the part."

Director Donald commented, "It wouldn't be a stretch to call LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT a 'holy grail' for actors. Eugene O'Neill's characters require a level of commitment, rigor, and virtuosity that few roles match--and the level at which this cast delivers is nothing short of phenomenal."

Also in the cast is Deborah Hazlett a member of Everyman's Acting Company. See a nice interview with her in the February 2018 issue of Baltimore Magazine or visit www.baltimoremagazine.com.

Everyman at the Parkway Theatre presents the film "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" on February 6 at 7 p.m. Director Hicken will conduct a discussion.

A "Taste of Everyman" is on February 8 at 6 p.m. featuring pre-show sampling for a dine and drink scene. Tickets are $60 and include the performance.

On February 22 following the performance join a Cast Conversation at 10 p.m.

The show runs until March 4, 2018. For tickets, call 410-752-2208 or visit www.Everymantheatre.org. Kudos to Everyman for changing starting times for weekday performances to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday evening shows to 7:30 p.m.

cgshubow@broadwayworld.com


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From This Author Charles Shubow