In a series of interviews with the cast of Pygmalion at The British Players, meet Roger Stone who plays Alfred Doolittle.
Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on stage before. What roles did you play in these shows?
I’m Roger Stone, and I’ve been very fortunate to perform with several area theater companies, including The Montgomery Playhouse, Silver Spring Stage, Sandy Spring Theatre Group, Red Light Theater, Greenbelt Arts Center, Potomac Theatre Company, and now, The British Players. Most recently, I played Herr Zangler in On the Razzle at Silver Spring Stage, and Yvan in Art at The Montgomery Playhouse.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of Pygmalion? It is, of course, an extremely well-known play. What inspired you to audition?
Do you mean aside from Doolittle being pretty much a dream role for a middle-aged male actor who loves doing accents? Then the answer would have to be – to work with our wonderful director, Pauline [Griller-Mitchell].
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to him?
I play Alfred Doolittle, the lowly dustman, and Eliza’s ne’er-do-well father. How do I relate to him? Let’s just keep that in the past, okay? Actually, he’s an intellectual con-man who lives life to the fullest. How fun is that? (Onstage, of course.)
What is Pygmalion about from the point of view of your character?
All he wants is to live the happy life of the undeserving poor, touching (conning) wealthy people for money to get drunk on. In a few years, he looks forward to earning his pauper’s uniform, so he can live out his days, drunk, idle, and on the dole.
What challenges have you had preparing for the role, and how did Director Pauline Griller-Mitchell help you through these challenges? What was the best advice she gave you on how to play your role?
“Slow down!” she keeps reminding me. And she’s absolutely right. The Cockney accent is hard for the American ear, and if I speak too quickly, no one will understand a word I say. Doolittle’s monologues are so rich, that to throw away any part of them would be a crime.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
All of them! Okay, my favorite line to say is, “He hung about on the chance of her giving him another ride home. Well, she sent him back for her luggage when she heard that you was willin’ for her to stop here.” Doesn’t sound like much does it? But those two sentences alone have ten H’s to drop! (Try it yourself!) As for other character’s lines, I love the touching conversations between Eliza and Colonel Pickering about his “treating her like a lady”.
What does Pygmalion have to say to today’s audiences?
Ohhh, mannn… Don’t tempt me! It’s all about class differentiation between the haves and the have-nots, coupled with the breaking down of the middle class. Why don’t we just leave it at that?
If you could change what happens to your character, what would you like to see happening to your character at the end of the play?
Nothing, it’s perfect!
Why should local theatergoers come and see Pygmalion?
Oh, it’s a wonderful story – even without the singing and the dancing. It’s got comedy, drama, philosophy, politics, and even a little romance – plus a terrific cast and crew! What else could you want in a show?
What’s next for you on the stage?
Dunno. It’s my wife’s turn to direct or act next! We’ll see what comes along after that.