1) Tell us a little about Victor and how you got involved with theatre.
At the age of nine I was cast in The Wernert’s Corners Elementary School Christmas play, as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. We rehearsed for weeks. There was no homework for those of us in the play. On the day of performance, eighth graders, who would not otherwise have wished me a good day, competed to see whose coat I would wear in the production. I got to walk through the eighth grade coatroom and pick my favorite. I was pretty puffed up. That night we repeated the show for the PTA. My parents seemed uncustomarily proud.
When I was about to enter high school I had chosen as my electives Latin and algebra. My mother suggested I was being a bit ambitious. She said, “Why not choose something you like?” I said, “What do I like?” She said, “You liked being in that play in the fifth grade.” I chose Radio Production.
Noting that radio acting had become a relic of the past by the time I hit college, I followed advice and glued myself to Dr. Norma Stoltzenbach, the professor who was the head of the University Theatre. I did 21 shows while in college. Then headed off to New York City and glamorous starvation. After a couple of years, persistence began to pay off. I achieved my Equity Card in a rolling repertory company in Morristown , New Jersey where I spent three seasons, leaving in the summers to do Shakespeare. One thing followed another. Many years later I went to Los Angeles in a play where I discovered acting in TV and movies. I was one of the lucky ones, spending a lifetime doing something I love.
2) Why did you want to be a part of the Board and Artistic Committee at Kansas City Actors Theatre?
I had been cast in August Strindberg’s Dance of Death at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. The Captain is described as an unattractive, hardened figure. I was up to the part. Imagine my surprise upon meeting my understudy; a tall graduate intern with Hollywood good looks. It was John Rensenhouse. We met again at an audition in Kansas City in 2009. He later invited me to audition for Kansas City Actor’s Theatre upcoming production of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. I was cast.
To my great delight I found myself in the midst of the best group of actors with whom I had ever been associated. It was exciting and rather intimidating. John was directing. I wondered how this city had been blessed to keep so many talented people. I slowly learned of the mission of KACAT and credited this company with being a major factor in the extraordinary theatrical life of this community. I became an avid supporter. I had no idea of how to become a member of the company, but I subscribed to seasons, went to performances and sent in donations.
When the idea of putting my name before the board was suggested I leapt at the opportunity. I am very hopeful that a career that has spanned long stints on both coasts, including membership in an actor driven theatre company in Los Angeles, and has now settled in the heart of the Midwest will provide me the opportunity to offer something of value to the board and the Artistic Committee of Kansas City Actor’s Theatre.
3) What shows have you done for the company?
The Gin Game…………………………..Weller Martin
The Real Inspector Hound………..Birdboot
The Seafarer…………………………….Mr. Lockhart
Glengarry Glen Ross……………….Shelly Levene
I have personally benefitted mightily because of the existence of Kansas City Actor’s Theatre in our environs. It is a reason to stay, to endeavor, to poke, to prod, to investigate, and to participate.
4) Do you have a favorite role?
There have been several roles that proved to be consequential in major ways during my career. In terms of getting me noticed I would have to consider Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof to be the most major factor in giving producers the mistaken, but persistent notion, that I should do musicals, which, in turn, gave my resume a whole new look for the next twenty years. I toured Fiddler twice, for a year each time. It didn’t hurt that my asking price also saw a healthy inflation. Ultimately, it was in conjunction with the tour of Tommy Tune’s Grand Hotel, that I met my now ex-wife and had a hand in the begetting of my two now college age daughters.
It was in Herb Gardner’s A Thousand Clowns that I discovered the novelty of allowing the essence of a role to come to me. I was playing one show while rehearsing another, and finally was in that exhausted place that allows a certain kind of relaxation. One that gives up reaching in favor of accepting. It was revelatory.
Also, noteworthy for me, in terms of finding a clearer path to the humanity of a character, was the role of Doug Roberts in Joshua Logan’s play, Mr. Roberts. After spending a certain time exploring the contexts of war, tropical heat, and the conditions of an extended period at sea, I found it wonderfully beneficial to simply pay attention to what the playwright wanted me to say.
5) When you are not onstage what do you enjoy doing?
I had been asked to tour again, This time in John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation. I was contemplating going back on the road. The cities were very enticing as, of course was the play. A long stint in Los Angeles followed by a sit down in San Francisco. Reviewing my life, as it were. I decided I had been very fortunate to spend it doing something as interesting and fulfilling as being a stage actor. My greatest regret, however; was having not raised children. It seems that G-d was listening. I married the girl I had met during Grand Hotel, and after leaving the tour and settling into a Hollywood fling with television, and a major earthquake, we decided to make babies.
Fatherhood had always seemed a daunting and intimidating prospect. But when I chose to embrace it, I discovered the very best thing I had ever known. For the next twenty years it became, hands down, the thing I enjoyed the most. When not onstage I’m a dad.
6) Any final thoughts?
It’s just that now, my election to the board of KACAT has changed my notion of my place in the community from fan to participant. I don’t know if it is widely understood how vibrant and powerful the theatre scene is in this most middle of middle America. And how the immense talents that have chosen to stay here might be lionized in the cities more usually considered when thinking of the performing arts. It tickles me to sit with those who have made it happen. I hope they don’t tire of me soon.
$5 off single tickets to The Gin Game with code GIN BLOG
Call Central Ticket Office at 816.235.6222 to get your discounted ticket.
THE GIN GAME by D.L. Coburn
August 12-30, 2015
City Stage at Union Station
Directed by Dennis Hennessy
Starring: Victor Raider-Wexler as Weller Martin and Marilyn Lynch as Fonsia Dorsey