What's New on the Rialto
Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party
Also see Nick's interview with Colin Quinn
Nick Orlando: Thanks for taking the time out of your lunch hour to speak with me.
Robert Hogan: Sure! It is great to do this for the show, to get the word out there.
NO: How are the rehearsals going?
RH: They are going very well. It's great.
NO: Which is the most challenging part?
RH: Right now, we are doing table work. This is the most fun; everyone throws in their input. We are doing a lot of research. The most challenging part is the dancing, the marching and dancing, especially at my age. Some of the cast has dancing experience, but most haven't. We have a choreographer. We are not aiming for A Chorus Line here. It will be fun, but professional. It is out of our comfort zone, but in a good way.
NO: How long are your rehearsal days?
RH: We are rehearsing six days a week from 10 to 6-ish.
NO: What were your initial thoughts when you first heard about the production?
RH: For me, as the old fart, it is wonderful. The author gave us a bibliography and books to read up on Abraham Lincoln. You learn how great Lincoln really was. I read this script and was like, this is wonderfully bizarre. We go through life distractedwith cell phones, music in our ears, email ... In this show we have seven Abes. At one point all of us are on stage. The attention is brought to a specific problem or situation and then you see all of the Abe's dancing. We gradually settle back into the character.
NO: We should all be used to the distractions!
RH: Yes, especially with the distractions each of us has on a daily basis.
NO: The production has three acts and they can be performed in any order, which is decided by the audience. How does that work?
RH: As an actor, I thought, this is bullshit. When we did the reading, we did it and it worked. One person in the audience decides on act one and then another person, very quickly, decides on act two, etc.
NO: Does it throw the cast off at all?
RH: Right now, until we get going, this will be an adjustment.
RH: It's great. The dancing around is a major adjustment for me. At my age, I say "not bad Hogan, you're still having a lot of fun."
NO: I recently finished watching "The Wire." The characters really drew the audience into the series. Critics call it the best drama of all time. How was it being part of such an important show?
RH: It was wonderful. The creator and executive producer, David Simon, really cares and is incredible. I only did four or five episodes. It was a fun show and I was hooked on the show before I got cast.
NO: Who was your favorite character?
RH: Omar and also the reformed junkie.
RH: Yes, Omar and Bubbles. What a character [Michael Williams] created with Omar.
NO: You began your career in theatre in 1961. How has it changed over the years?
RH: I don't think it has. It seems to me after you get a job, you go into rehearsals with the same kind of peopleyou want to make a good cake or a good soup. I'm sure there is somebody listening to this conversation and saying, "This asshole doesn't think theatre has changed ..." I really don't think the process has changed. It is great we all get paid to do it as well. It starts with the people that write it.
NO: Which Broadway shows have you seen this season?
RH: Race, A Behanding in Spokane.
NO: What did you think of Christopher Walken?
RH: Chris Walken being in anything is mind-boggling. What an experience. I saw him in a few plays.
NO: Which are your favorite neighborhoods in New York City?
RH: I live on the Upper West Side and I have Riverside Park right there. I'm looking out the windows at the rehearsal studio right now and I see the big buildings, hear the noise, etc. Where I live, I get to overlook the river. The city was so different when I was a kid.
NO: How so?
RH: It was unsafe, dangerous. I worked doing ship repairs as a kid and someone always needed to get lunch. I was always chosen. I would have to walk the streets, carrying eight to ten cups of coffee, remembering who wanted their sandwich on rye ... .
NO: I will let you goI know you still have to eat lunch. It has been a pleasure speaking with you. Good luck with rehearsals and thank you for your time.
RH: And I thank you as well. Come see us.
Nick was born in Brooklyn and raised in Staten Island, NY, where he completed his studies. He received his B.S. in communications and marketing from St. John's University in 2005, where he was also inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society and Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Nick considers traveling, theater, music and working out his favorite leisure activities. Nick currently devotes some of his personal time to volunteering with One Brick and God's Love We Deliver.
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