10 on Tuesday with SCHOOL OF ROCK's Rob Colletti
Dewey is in the house! Chicago native Rob Colletti took a break from his nightly climb to the top of mount rock in the national tour of SCHOOL OF ROCK to answer 10 on Tuesday. Here's what he had to say:
1. What was the first show you auditioned for (and did you get the part)? Clue The Musical. I actually wasn't planning on going, but about 10 minutes before the audition, a friend of mine who was nervous about going in for it asked me to go with him. I didn't prepare at all or know what I was doing, but I went in and got a lead role (Mr. Green). It wasn't a real school play, it was just a student directed thing, but I got bit by the bug hard. The next play I actually auditioned for with the intent of wanting to try it was the next play on the main stage, Jesus Christ Superstar. I got cast as King Herod.
2. Where are you originally from? I'm originally from Glen Ellyn, IL, but I lived in Chicago proper for many years and my family now lives in Wheaton, IL.
3. When did you know you wanted a career on the stage? I don't think I ever really knew I wanted it to be a career. I just loved doing it so much that I pursued it at every chance I had. It started with high school theater, then turned into the children's theater program at Circle Theatre in Forest Park, then I decided to study it in college because it's all I wanted to do. And before I knew it, I just started getting paid for it. I really don't even feel like this is a career. I just feel like I'm lucky enough to be paid to do what I would be doing for fun anyway. But I definitely knew I loved it and wanted to do it as often as possible from my very first time on stage when I was 14 years old.
4. What's your dream role/production? This is always the hardest question for me to answer because there are so many parts in so many shows that I would love to play for so many different reasons. I would love to take the text of any number of classic roles for men like Willy Loman, Macbeth, John Proctor, Vanya, Stanley Kowalski, Hamlet... But of all the cliché, must-play roles I've ever hoped to be, I would have to say George in Of Mice and Men. It's my favorite book of all time, and I've had a long connection with the play dating back to when I did it in college.
5. Favorite post-performance haunt? In Chicago, there is a bar in my old neighborhood called Barrelhouse Flat that I used to go to a lot when I was doing THE BOOK OF MORMON. They have amazing cocktails and attract a good crowd. But my all time favorite bar in Chicago is Fountainhead on Montrose. I used to live in Ravenswood and would go there all the time, especially while I was doing The Original Grease at American Theater Company. Great beer and liquor selection, great food, great atmosphere... I will definitely be taking the Brown Line up after a couple shows to visit. Also, shoutout to Murphy's Bistro on Lincoln. Best ribs in the city and Eddie is my favorite bartender of all time. Not sure if he's still there because I haven't lived in Chicago for a few years, but if so, that man takes care of his customers.
6. Living or dead, who would you drop everything to see perform?Again, probably a bit cliché, but I would have to say Led Zeppelin. I've been to a lot of great concerts in my life... Springsteen, The Eagles, Kanye, Paul McCartney, John Mayer, Elton John, Pearl Jam, Billy Joel... But just from the concert *footage* I've seen of Led Zeppelin while they were in their prime, I feel like they're more powerful than anything I've actually seen in person. They redefined rock music and inspired a generation of new genres and artists. Seeing them live at the height of their existence would be unforgettable.
7. What's your guilty pleasure/vice? I'm a real sucker for video games. I'm kind of a huge sports junkie, but I also really like certain fantasy stories, like Star Wars and things like it. I always buy the new FIFA, Baseball, and Madden games, any games associated with Star Wars, and I also get pretty competitive with Call of Duty and Halo. I also am really looking forward to the Red Dead Redemption Sequel. The original is probably my favorite game of all time.
8. What do you value most about acting? Honestly, I value acting for the same reasons I value playing music or going to an art gallery or reading a great novel. It's just another form of artistic expression and I've always been so compelled by the human condition. The fact that people are capable of expressing themselves through art in any format ignites my empathetic nature and forces me to see things through another lens, or have a discussion I hadn't considered having before being exposed to the art that influenced me. Seeing a great play or movie or musical should make you leave feeling uplifted or driven to contemplate what your expectations or preconceived notions were. Acting is the vehicle through which these great stories that get written are told to audiences. Being the conduit to that feeling or that discussion, being responsible for someone potentially changing their opinion (or even their lives) based on something I perform in is the most rewarding part of what I do. Great art, no matter what the platform, should compel us to think and feel in a new way. Acting is just one of the ways which I have been able to harness my drive to do that into something tangible.
9. What is the one song you never want to hear again at an audition?Anything from High School Musical. I'd rather see a Musical Theater Standard like "I Dreamed A Dream" or "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" and have you run the risk of being compared to one of the greats than something that is inaccessible and shallow. Even if the first run through isn't great, if you show your true self and are intriguing, the director will give you something to change and give you a chance to make it better and make it your own. Something from HSM or something like it is just really kitschy and requires almost no emotional depth or vocal talent.
10. Fill in the blank: "The one thing I'd never change about theater is..." The thing I'd never change about theater is the community bonds you form with your cast and crew. When you do a show, whether it's for 2 weeks or 2 years, you create a family. That sense of kinship and that place of artistic vision and creation is so special and intrinsic to creating a fantastic finished product. All of the best shows I've been a part of had amazing camaraderie amongst the people who worked on it. When the people in a show get cliquey and/or dissociative, the work suffers. But when the bond is strong, you can tell. When blood, sweat, and tears go into creating what you're seeing, you can feel it. It's irreplaceable and it's pivotal to the success of any great piece of theater.
Colletti appears in SCHOOL OF ROCK Nov. 1-Nov. 19 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph. Tickets $27-$98. Call 800.775.2000. ustour.schoolofrockthemusical.com