Paul C. Vogt Has Made A Lot of Funny Things Happen ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM

Paul C. Vogt will again mount the boards of the first Los Angeles theatre he connected with upon his arrival to L.A. in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, beginning November 15, 2017. Just this year, The Falcon Theatre was re-christened The Garry Marshall Theatre, in honor of its founder. Some of the shows Paul performed at The Falcon include: LAUREL AND HARDY, TWIN-PROV, HAPPY DAYS, THE LITTLE MERMAID, CINDERELLA! Paul waxed most poetically on his many happy days working with Garry Marshall and The Falcon.

Thank you Paul for taking the time for this interview.

This will be your first time performing at the recently renamed The Garry Marshall Theatre. What originally connected you with The Falcon and Garry Marshall?

I saw the theater when I first moved to town in '99, and knew I wanted to work there. It was close to where I was living and I loved the look and feel of it - very homey, comfortable and welcoming.

I auditioned for BEANSTALK! - one of the Family Series of shows they performed on the weekends. I had no idea Garry was involved, or that the director Kathleen Marshall was Garry's daughter. I got a call-back for the role of the Giant; but did not get cast. Shortly after that, I was asked to work with a group of friends from Orlando doing a show at The Falcon theater called LAS VEGAS HOSPITAL. A scripted/improvised comedy. I would fill in for a couple of actors when needed. This is when I met Garry and realized where I was. He saw me in that show and we hit it off. The actor that got the part of the Giant in BEANSTALK! had to suddenly leave the show due to a family emergency. Garry and Kathleen asked if I would help them out and accept the role of the Giant. I said, "Yes" on Wednesday, and was in the show on Saturday.

So, Garry was already very familiar with your comedic chops at his theatre when you were cast in his film The Princess Dairies 2: Royal Engagement in 2004.

When Garry asked me to do Princess Diaries 2, we had done a couple of family shows at the theater including the first try at HAPPY DAYS: "AAAY!" IT'S A MUSICAL  and I was on MADtv by that time - which I attribute to Garry.

What words of advice or encouragement has Garry Marshall given you?

If you try a joke a couple of times, and it doesn't get a response - stop doing it. It's not funny. Do something else.

Do you have a funny Garry Marshall memory to share?

In HAPPY DAYS: "AAAY!" IT'S A MUSICAL, I played Jimbo Malachi, one of the bad guys. During our number, there would be moments my character would toss in a little bit of improv. Often before a show, Garry would come up to me and ask me to put random words into my song. Like one night he had me incorporate YoYo Ma the cellist. I sang my song,went into my improv section and sang about YoYo Ma. The audience laughed a bit 'cause it was funny and odd. BUT in the back behind them all, you heard a loud belly laugh that belonged to Garry, who was delighted that, once again, I took on his challenge and ran with it!! We would both giggle like idiots after when we would see each other.

If MADtv were to write a breakdown description of Pseudolus, what character traits would it include?

Large, loud, bossy servant/slave, has passion to acquire his freedom and will do anything to achieve it... ANYTHING!

How would you compare Pseudolus to some of the other characters you've inhabited on the boards- HAIRSPRAY!'s Edna Turnblad, CHICAGO's Amos Hart, CHEERS LIVE ON STAGE's Norm Peterson?

Oddly enough, each one of these characters has an overwhelming passion that drives their actions:

Psedolous to be free,

Edna to love and take care of her family,

Amos to protect his wife,

Norm...beer.

Who have you seen perform Pseudolus previously?

It's been a long time since I've seen anyone do the show.

Would you name your favorite Stephen Sondheim song?

That's a hard one. Sooooo many. Ummmm? Anything from SWEENEY TODD, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, INTO THE WOODS. Also "I Feel Pretty" from WEST SIDE STORY - that song has been very good to me.

I caught your HAIRSPRAY! duet with Michael-Leon Wooley at the Broadway to the Rescue fundraiser. Your Edna to his Wilbur rocked the Montalban Theater audience.

Thanks! It was so fun to do it with him.

How old were you when you realized you were a funny (and talented) guy?

Still trying to figure that out.

I've seen you perform in various shows in Los Angeles, At least I thought I had. When I was looking at my old programs, I realized it was your twin brother Peter Allen Vogt that I saw in ROMEO & JULIET: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD, and more recently DOGFIGHT. Was TWIN-PROV in 2008 the first time you two performed together? Or was it a reunion performance of your fraternal talents?

We have worked several times together on TV and a couple movie items. In Orlando for Disney back in '89, we did improv. We have been doing improv together and in groups for years. TWIN-PROV was our first TWIN IMPROV show with special guests.

Any plans to perform together again?

It always seems to happen.

You wrote your first children's book Billy Butler and the SnowDog last year. Any theatre projects you're penning to come in the near future?

Nothing yet. I have an idea for a one-person show chatting about my cancer situation, but it's still all in my head.

What is your dream role you'd love to take a stab at?

Hard to say... I would love to play Sweeney Todd. I love his passion and drive. I kinda understand him.

Thank you again, Paul! I look forward to see your sure-to-be hysterical Pseudolus!

Thanks! It's such a fun show to do, amazingly well-written.

For ticket availability to experience what funny things Paul makes happen ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM through December 31, 2017; log onto www.garrymarshalltheatre.org


RSC's Jerry Kernion Muses On His Abridged History of Working TV, Cirque du Soleil & the RSC

Director Jerry Kernion returns to The Falcon Theatre with the latest installment of The Reduced Shakespeare Company's laughfests, THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (ABRIDGED) opening March 22, 2017.  Last year, Jerry, a long-time member of RSC, helmed THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED) to deserved critical acclaim.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview with Better Lemons and myself.
You have been a member since 2001 of The Reduced Shakespeare Company, well-known for their "...(ABRIDGED)" concept. How did you first connect with RSC?
I first connected with the RSC after being called in for an audition by their casting director, Sandi Logan, who is also the casting director for The Falcon Theatre and for this show.
You started out as a performing member, right? 
I did.  I was still touring with them as recently as 2015.  In 2006, they hired me to produce and direct the DVD version of THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED).  We shot three live shows up in a beautiful theater in Sonoma, CA and then edited them as one.  That DVD is available now at stores/websites with bad taste everywhere.  Actually, we did it on a shoestring budget and it came out really great.
Were you involved in any incarnations of COMEDY (ABRIDGED)?
Yes.  I toured with this show for a short time and performed it at Merrimack Repertory Theatre outside of Boston for a six-week run in 2015.
How about any participation in past editions of any ...(ABRIDGED)?
Out of the RSC's 10 shows, I believe that I've performed in five of them throughout the years.  As a company, we have performed all over the world and I'm fortunate to have been able to perform in countries that I may have never even visited had I not been involved. 
When did you say, "But I really want to do is direct!"? 
Well, I've been directing ever since high school. So I'm not sure that I ever had that particular revelation.  I feel that, in our business, the more tools you have in your tool chest, the more chances you have of working.  And working is what makes me happy.  So I decided long ago to try to keep juggling all aspects of what I do so as to never be bored.  I've been lucky enough to switch between job titles and mediums to mostly achieve that.
I was fortunate enough to see your production of THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED) last year. A belated congratulations on winning the LA Stage Ovation for "Best Acting Ensemble of a Play."
Thanks.
I love how a solid, bull-eyed ad-lib fits right into scripted lines. Is a list of possible ad-libs made up pre-show? Or is each performer on their own to improvise? Or are the ad-libs already scripted? The scripts of COMEDY (ABRIDGED)AMERICA (ABRIDGED) allow room for improv, right?
Somewhat, but it's less than you think.  In every RSC show, there are places where we change things from city to city.  We would get to a city and, while we were fitting the show to the stage for that performance, we would question all the local stage personnel about different local references that we could add that night.  On any given night, those could be the only things that you would hear differently.  The goal is to make it all appear as it's being made up on the spot.  When you can get the audience believing that, you've successfully served the style.  That being said, when the cast is at its best, those brilliant mistakes that happen on stage or in the audience are not to be ignored.
You are a consistently working TV actor. Do you prefer being in front of the camera or being behind-the-stage in a theatre?
My response to that is always "Whatever I'm going to do next!" I'm very fortunate to have opportunities to act, direct, write and produce. I love doing everyone of those things equally, so I'm always thrilled most about what the next thing will be.
Do you incorporate some of your Cirque du Soleil training and experience into your direction of COMEDY (ABRIDGED)?
Always.  Working with Cirque is very different from theatre.  First and foremost, it's circus and there are circus rules that most of the artists have been following for years.  So you really need to adjust to that when you go about crafting your performance because lives are at stake.  One could fight against that rigidity or embrace it and see what it brings.  I choose the latter and I've found that it's sharpened my sense of specificity and theatricality, both as an actor and a director.  COMEDY is really about the clowns that we all grew up with, the people that made/make us laugh.  So I hope to bring all of my experience as a clown with Cirque to bear in order to honor those clowns.  
After working in large-scale productions (like Cirque du Soleil's THE BEATLES LOVE), do you find it challenging scaling down to a mid-size house like The Falcon?
Not at all.  "The play's the thing."  Large, mid-size, small or tiny theatre, it's always about serving the playwright's vision and telling the story. 
You have done a number of shows in the Los Angeles Theatre community. What's your take on the recent Equity ruling on small theatres?
I see both sides.  I'll leave it at that.
What makes a production successful in your eyes?
For me as an audience member, a successful production is when I walk out of the theatre knowing that I want to find out more information about the subject matter of the show.  Whether that be from talking to others about it, reading source material or surfing the internet.  Those are the shows that stick with me.  As a director, I want to somehow achieve all of those things...and be sold out.
What responses do you hope for with The Falcon audience for THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (ABRIDGED)?
(Besides what I just said) I hope that the audience has a small attack of nostalgia, a large dose of laughter, and an unquenchable thirst to seek out and reintroduce themselves to all of the clowns and comedians that inspired this show.
Thank you again, Jerry. If COMEDY (ABRIDGED) is anything like your AMERICA (ABRIDGED), I know I'll be laughing my eyes out! Break a leg!
For more information and ticket availability through April 23, 2017; please visit falcontheatre.com