Spotlight on Mario FontBy Laura & Mike Clark • Mar 22nd, 2009 • Category: Interviews
James Lee Community Center, Falls Church, VA
$15/$12 Seniors and Students
Playing through April 4th
Listen to the interview with Mario Font. [MP3 8:57 8.2MB]
Mike: This is Mike Clark with Show Biz Radio and I am backstage at a rehearsal for Providence Player’s Rehearsal For Murder. Today I am talking with Mario Font, who plays the role of Lloyd Andrews the director. Thank you for talking with me.
Mario: No problem, glad to do it.
Mike: So, who is Lloyd Andrews?
Mario: Lloyd Andrews is a director on Broadway who has been struggling for quite a few years to actually get to direct a Broadway play and this particular show is his ticket to stardom. He is very grateful. One of his lines is that he is very grateful for the shot at directing because he’s probably had a couple of close calls, but no real successes so this is the first time he’s actually able to mount a Broadway production and direct it and have his name credited to doing a direction. So he’s excited, he’s scared, he’s fearful, and he’s hoping to heck that that’s it a hit.
Mike: So is he at all like you or has he been a stretch for you to learn how to be a director?
Mario: Well, directors have this thing about bossing people around and I tend to be pretty good about that. I’ve never considered doing directing so this is a little bit of a role switch for me trying to think and I’ve worked with quite a few different directors so I’ve sort of reached back into my little bag of tricks of history what did the particular director do and how did the director talk to actors and so forth and try to make a composite of all the different personality types that I’ve dealt with over the years. But really it comes down to common sense and what does your gut tell you that these folks should be doing on stage. It’s really more of the person’s vision and how they translate it out onto the stage. I did pull in a few different directors over the years, but I just kind of went with my gut.
Mike: Is Lloyd a likable guy even though he is in charge?
Mario: I think he is. I don’t think that when you read through the script and that was one of the first things I did. Was this somebody the audience is going to want to cheer on and root for, or are they going to boo and hiss at him at the end of the show? I really think he’s a likable guy. He’s trying, like we all are, to have success and feel good about what you do. So I have deliberately chosen to make him likable and have that little bit of weakness about him that he really wants this to work out and he really wants this to be a hit he can have something to to proud of. I think there is a little bit of all of us in that so people can relate to that.
Mike: So tell me a little bit about your background in theater. Since you say you don’t want to direct that you’d rather do acting.
Mario: Yes, I’d rather be on stage than behind stage or backstage. I grew up in New York City and for some unknown reason the grammer school that I went to the folks there, one of the English teachers (or two of the English teachers) really liked putting on Broadway musicals. The classics. So from the time I was in sixth grade they did Camelot, My Fair Lady, and Annie Get Your Gun. I was featured in those shows and really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun. The teachers were very supportive and the kids had a great time and it was just a natural thing for me to do.
When I went to high school it was an all boys high school so I got involved in that drama club and of course we did a lot of male heavy plays. Twelve Angry Men and so forth, but we also wound up with a sister high school that was all girls so they lent us the girls for the coed productions and we lent them the boys for their coed productions.
And then for college I just kept going with theater. Got involved in the drama club there. Did a bunch of shows there. I spent my junior year abroad in Switzerland and got involved in their drama club. We mounted one production only. It was The Matchmaker, which was the play Hello, Dolly! was based on. That was quite an interesting experience and a lot of fun because we had people who spoke German as their native language trying to speak dialogue and know what thy were saying in English and not really didn’t know what they were saying in English. That was quite an education to do that.
When I graduated from college that was the end of that. I never really knew about community theater. It just seemed to me that that was a fun thing to do and now it’s time to grow up, get a job and move on with your life so I never really got involved with theater again for a big gap; about twenty some odd years.
About ten years ago my kids got involved in a school production at the local elementary school. That led to an opening at the Oatlands Plantation out in Leesburg for a Summerstock Summer theater production of Barnum. Both my kids were cast in that and I became the backstage dad, driving them to and from rehearsal. The theater bug bit me again and through that I found out there was this whole community theater community in Northern Virginia and that led to all sorts of shows in various companies. I have been doing two or three shows a year since.
Mike: Is it hard doing that much theater around your day job?
Mario: It can be at times. Luckily, knock on wood, I have not had to miss a rehearsal or a performance due to work obligations. That is always a point of worry that the two will conflict, but other people have hobbies and this is what I view as my hobby and it is what I like to do in my spare time. So if you like something enough and you are passionate enough about it then you find the time to make it work and you make the effort to make it work. It is a juggling act and yes, it’s been a sacrifice. It’s tough on the family and tough on other things, but this is what I enjoy doing so that’s my priority.
Mike: So how has theater changed in the Northern Virginia area in ten years?
Mario: I think technically with the advances with the light boards and the sound cues and all that being computerized versus doing it by hand to me that has been the biggest difference. Acting is acting. Music is music. That doesn’t really change all that that much, but I think the technology around the support of the back stage stuff. That is what has gone quantum leaps in the last ten years. From my perspective. Now maybe technically a director might have other tools available to him or her that I am just not aware of, but just from seeing, you know, manually running lights versus doing them on a light board with cues. That to me is the biggest technological advance.
Mike: Has it made the theater that’s being done, has it made the shows better?
Mario: I think it certainly, well it’s got it’s good and bad points. The good points that it’s much easier to do certain special effects and things like that. The bad point is that you’re at the mercy of technology so if the computer dies midway through the show, you’re really stuck. Versus when it’s all done manually then you’re not beholden to the computer . So it has it’s good points, it has it’s bad points. Technology is here and it’s not going to go away.You just deal with it and make a backup copy of the light cues and hope you don’t have a power surge during the performance.
Mike: Do you have a part you would just love to play that you would never have a chance to do?
Mario: I do. It’s in Company. It’s not necessarily Bobby, but any of the other supporting male roles I would love to do any of those, but I’m just a little too old now to play any of those roles. It was just a pleasant dream to have and think back and wish that I done that when I was in college if they had done that show in college, but they didn’t so I never had the chance. Never will. That was a fun show. That was the first Broadway show I had ever seen in New York sitting right there 1970-whatever it was. That was the first show I saw so it holds a special place in my heart.
Mike: Well, thank you very much.
Mario: Well thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/3627.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.