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The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Jim Pillmeier
May 27, 2013

What is your job on this show?
actor.

What is your show about?
Though it is wonderful on it's own, this play is the third in a trilogy that tells the fascinating life story of a warm, loving, abused, smart, talented, generous, gay, hiv positive, resourceful, realistic, attractive, naive yet not (most lessons learned the hard way) man; he is my favorite role!

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I was about 10 years old and had heard the "what do you want to do when you grow up" question 1000 times. I was then taken to a celebratory production of "George M", and I sat in my seat and stared at the stage thinking, that's it! That's just perfect! That's what I have to do!

Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
EVERYTHING blooms from the writing! I have always thought that they do the most remarkable part. Creating an entire story out of a blank page, amazing! How many plays are thousands of years old and have had literally hundreds and thousands of actors and directors, but still, the same author?! The director comes next, of course. It is the actors job to create the vision of these two people (at least). I am always amazed and grateful for the gift of a playwright. I don't know how they do it, but thank God they do!

How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
I met the author of this play when I first auditioned for him for the first play in this trilogy. I had been asked to read the play and thought, ugh, new play, well... I glanced at it and threw it on a table. My landlord at the time, knocked on my door asking about the play. She insisted I seriously read the role of Sidney J. Stein. (I had actually been asked to look at a different role) I picked up the script and read the first page. I knew this character was wonderful and I knew I had to play him! I returned the producer's phone call and he asked me to come in and read it. The author, his family and I have been the closest of friends, co-workers, and family ever since!

Which famous person would you most like to get a fan letter from: Denzel Washington, Maggie Smith, Ang Lee, Jennifer Lawrence?
Maggie Smith! Actually met her once, truly amazing experience!! To get a fan letter from her would be beyond a fantasy come true!

If you had ten million dollars that you had to spend on theatrical endeavors, how would you use the money?
There is a company just outside of New York City called Just Off Broadway, Inc. They called me many years ago, just when I was about to walk away from the theatre. This company made me believe again! Education is so vital and emphasized so greatly with this company. It is a professionally run and beautiful production company. I would set up an endowment so they could continue to operate professionally yet offer the proper continuing education, and employment, and scholarships to the community.