Review Fix chats with actor Matt de Rogatis who discusses his role as Roy in the Nine Theatricals production of “Lone Star,” in association with the Genesis Repertory Ensemble as a part of Frank Calo’s Spotlight On Festival from April 17-30. After the festival, the production will continue Off-Broadway at the Triad Theatre in May. Detailing his creative process for the role and goals for the show, the eclectic and talented de Rogatis lets us know exactly why this is a special piece of theatre.
About The Production:
Lone Star takes place in the cluttered backyard of a small-town Texas bar in 1972. Roy, a brawny, macho type who had once been a local high-school hero, is back in town after a hitch in Vietnam and realizes that about all he has left are memories of his glory days, his adoring younger brother Ray, his wife Elizabeth, and his now-crumbling 1959 pink Thunderbird.
Joined by Ray, Roy sets about consuming a case of Lone Star beer while regaling his brother with tales of his military and amorous exploits.
But with the arrival of Cletis, the fatuous, newlywed son of the local hardware store owner, the underpinnings of Roy’s world gradually begin to collapse.
NINE Theatricals production of Lone Star will be only the second New York City revival of the show since Powers Boothe originated the role of Roy on Broadway in 1979.
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Review Fix: How did you get involved in Lonestar?
Matt de Rogatis: Little secret Patrick. All these shows that you see me do, I’m mounting them. I work with wonderful people but it’s all conceptualized by me on the ground floor. I pick the show, find the director, find the money to pay the people involved, book the theatre, find the Press people, help get reviewers etc. You and I are wrestling fans and so I like to think of myself as the Vince McMahon of all these shows. I’m creating my own little WrestleMania’s here. It’s very rewarding. And while it can be very stressful having my hand in every aspect of these shows, it’s so much fun seeing it all come together and meeting new people, working with new artists as well as familiar faces. I am having the time of my life and each production I do seems to get bigger and bigger. Too many actors sit around waiting for a break or waiting for someone else to validate them. I’m not into that.
Review Fix: How did you prepare for the role?
de Rogatis: Well you might remember my last role as Frederick Clegg in The Collector. That was a physical transformation with the crazy look I had. Playing Roy in Lone Star won’t have that same kind of physical change but it is character work and so there are lots to focus on. He’s a Texas boy so there’s that. He’s back from Vietnam. So there’s that. While Lone Star is billed a comedy, it’s really not. It’s a wonderful piece about brothers and also probably one of the first plays ever written about PTSD. For the character, I’m really zeroing in on that angle as well as what life was like in Vietnam. So I’m doing extensive research on what a soldier went through during that war as well as the fallout. That’s what my character is dealing with. The fallout from Vietnam and the difficulties he’s having getting his life together after the fact. We are still about five weeks away from opening night so there’s still a lot of work to do and who knows where my preparation may take me. But right now Vietnam and PTSD are big areas for me. My character is also a Texas red neck. Someone who’s a shit disturber, getting into bar fights. He’s rowdy. A bit like Stone Cold Steve Austin I’d say. So yea, I’m having fun watching documentaries on Stone Cold too for some character research. I’m loving this character.
Review Fix: How do you want your performance to be remembered?
de Rogatis: I want people to believe that I am a Texas boy back from Vietnam who is suffering from PTSD. I want people to believe that I served the playwright, James Mclure. If I can do that, I’ve done my job. There’s a lot of theatre out there. A lot of entertainment. It’s very important to me to give the audience the absolute best I have to offer. That’s what keeps people coming to see you role after role, production after production. If you give them a stinker, that’s it. They’re not coming back.
Review Fix: Who will enjoy this play the most?
de Rogatis: Everyone.
Review Fix: Why is this production a special one?
de Rogatis: Oh it’s VERY special for a lot of reasons. A LOT. For starters, Roy is a role I’ve played before. This is the only role I’ve ever done more than once and it is my favorite character I’ve ever played. So to reprise it is awesome. The producers, NINE THEATRICALS are a group That I have worked with in the past and their president, Bob Lamb, is a dear friend of mine who has been a major, major part of my career in so many aspects. My very close friend Chris Loupos is playing the role of Ray, my younger brother. I have been very good friends with Chris since 1993. He is like a brother to me so to have him opposite me will be very special. The other actor in this production is Greg Pragel whom I have known a little less than a year now and whom I respect tremendously. I know I will be working with him for a long time to come. Our shows at The Triad will be on an Off-Broadway contract and will feature some live music before the show goes up. Jillian Geurts, who played Miranda Grey opposite me in The Collector, is one of the singers. She’s a fierce actress and a great talent. I’m real proud of what Jill and I did this past Fall at 59E59 and am really happy she’s a part of this. Jay Michaels is our PR guy and I have come to know and greatly respect Jay over this past year. This show feels like a celebration of people in both my personal and professional life. Some of the closest people in my life are part of this show and some actors I greatly respect, that I have met on my journey, are involved. We have a great director in Pete McElligott who I know is going to make this show everything it needs to be and more. And then there’s the biggest reason of all why this is such a special production….but I can’t tell you that now. Ask me again in a few months.
Review Fix: What’s next for you?
de Rogatis: Great question. Not sure. I’ve been going non-stop since I returned to acting in 2014 after a four-year hiatus for some personal reasons. I am totally focused on making Lone Star as great as it can be and then enjoying the summer at the Jersey Shore. But I’m always planning my next move so I’m sure the next project will make itself know to me sooner than later.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
de Rogatis: Yes a portion of all ticket sales will go to the Vietnam Veterans of America. Also, any and all information, everything you need to know about our show, is on our website www.DrinkBeerRaiseHell.com.