In Part 7 of a series of interviews with the cast of The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s production of Charles Morey’s Laughing Stock, meet Larry Grey.
Joel: Where have local audiences seen you on the stage?
Larry: I have been involved in many LTA shows over the last 14 years Love Sex and the IRS , 1776, Hairspray (Wilbur Turnblad), Funny Money (Detective Davenport) , Witness For The Prosecution, Several Productions of Witness For The Prosecution in the roles of Bob Cratchit, Fezziwig, Ghost of Christmas Present. I have been in St. Marks Productions of Bye Bye Birdie (Harry McAfee); Parade (Hugh Dorsey); and Ragtime (JP Morgan); and in Aldersgate Productions in the role of Rev. Dr. Lloyd.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of Laughing Stock at LTA?
Once again an opportunity to work with Director Shawn g.Byers. This will be my fourth time working under his direction in one capacity or another, as an actor in Funny Money; Set Decorator on Plaza Suite; and Stage Manager for Bug with Dominion Stage. And now again as an actor on the stage of Laughing Stock. I loved the script, the humor, and anyone who has ever acted in or been a part of community theater with limited resources, limited talent pool, and limited budget, but a passion to do good theater will relate to this story… It will tickle the funny bone and pull at the strings of your heart.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to this character?
I play Craig Conlin. I am the voice of reason in a sea of dreamers. I am the accountant, business manager, producer, I pull the purse string of a purse with no money. Trying to help produce a good production on a shoe string budget, with no shoes! 2.)LOL that is the fun part I am not sure I do relate, I am usually the dreamer, and here I am playing the voice of reason. The ground wire, but the part I can relate to as Department Manager in real life, and as a single parent of 5 kids and grandfather to 9. I believe my character sees himself as the protector of the group. He takes on the reality so they can they dream their dreams. And guides them to realistically achieving the dream.
What’s the show about from the point of view of your character?
Family – that we all have our roles to play and how with working together, and using the tools and resources we have, we can tell good stories, we can entertain. The bean counter, the dreamer, the romantic, the stage manager with personal issues and a past that links her to the playhouse. The artistic thinker, the ditzy ingenue, the hopeful new actor, and the somewhat cynical older actor, the overly ambitious set designer. All united by a common goal. “The Show Must Go On”!
Which character is most like you and why?
Oh good Question. One I would answer one way and others who know me would most likely answer otherwise. I like the character of Jack. Talented but most lacking in self confidence. Wants to take the leap but often chooses the safe path. But he usually views life from a positive note and willing to work with everyone. And do what is best for the show. But I see bits and pieces of myself in Craig and try to draw on that as well. I have really learned and appreciation for this guy.
What did you perform at your audition? Where were you when you got the call that you had the role?
For the first audition I performed a short monologue entitled the’Cheerios Monologue.’ I did not know it at the time but it apparently greatly mimicked the “Craig” character and got me a call back. At Call back I read for both Craig and Gordon but was chosen for Craig. They let me go early from call back and truthfully I thought okay is that a good sign or bad sign. But early the next morning I had just arrived at work when the producer called me and asked if I would accept the role of “Craig.” She said she was going to call me the night before but was afraid it was to late. I laughed and said “Oh no! I fell asleep with my cell phone on my pillow.”
What have been some of the challenges you have faced preparing for your role and how has Director Shawn Byers help you through these challenges?
Exactly how to interpret Craig. He is a realist, sometimes (often) irritated. But never mean. He honestly loves what he does. I have to try very hard not to make him cranky or cynical, just practical. In his own way he truly loves theater and sees himself as an important part of it. Doesn’t always understand the artistic mind,(at all) and I think he sees himself as Gordons wire to reality, and has to reign in Henry, the designer. He probably would go shopping with Henry with a pad and calculator. He keeps Gordon from ignoring or procrastinating when it comes to business. But he is not mean or insensitive. He loves this group. One thing the Director did was devote and entire evening to character development with each member of the cast individually. It not only helped us to dig deep and see our character, develop a back story, but understand Shawn’s vision. Which is vital in bringing the show to life. He really helped get great insight to “Craig” My challenge is to remember everyone has levels no is just one way all the time.
What is your favorite scene that you are not in, and why?
I love the scene in which the characters are doing one show….forget lines and which show they are doing and everything that could go wrong does…One because it is absolutely hilarious. Two because it is every actor, who has ever done live theater, reoccurring nightmare! I cannot tell you how many dreams I have had before a production that I am on stage and I forget my lines, words to the song. The props don’t work etc.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character recites and what is your favorite line that someone else recites in the show?
My favorite lines are in Act 1 scene three. Craigs talk, lecture, rant, on office supplies and his cross to bare the Coca Cola Machine! But I also like a small moment he has with Sarah, the stage manager, when you get to see him let his guard down a bit and have a moment of sincerity.
What are you doing next on the stage?
I will be auditioning for A Christmas Carol (LOL on closing day of this show) and fingers crossed that will be my next adventure. I must admit have done that show (Between the St. Louis area and here 10 times and I never tire of it. It is a classic and dear to my heart!
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Laughing Stock?
Well of course – I want them to leave the theater having laughed and felt good about their theater experience but what I think, on a broader scale I want them to leave with is that with any dream no matter how big or small, no matter what the resources, when you share it with someone you become in a way a family, it is an experience that transcends everything, and the important thing is to keep working toward the dream, tell a good story, share a laugh, use the firecracker instead of the fireworks, but do it together, laugh a lot and love a lot and all will work out in the end.
Meet the Cast of The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s ‘Laughing Stock’: Part 1: Will MacLeod.
Meet the Cast of The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s ‘Laughing Stock’: Part 2: Director Shawn G. Byers.
Meet the Cast of The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s ‘Laughing Stock’: Part 3: Tom Flatt.
Meet the Cast of The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s ‘Laughing Stock’: Part 4: Abigail Ropp.
Meet the Cast of The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s ‘Laughing Stock’: Part 5: Ted Culler.
Meet the Cast of The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s ‘Laughing Stock’: Part 6: Hilary Adams.
Meet the Cast of The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s ‘Laughing Stock’: Part 7: Larry Grey.