Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Spotlight On...Ran Levy
Hometown: Grew up both in San Diego and Israel. By the time I was twenty I had moved so often that it’s hard to think about a place I can truly call my “hometown”.
Education: An Alumni of “The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute”. B.A in Psychology and Sociology, Tel Aviv Academic College.
Select Credits: Giovanni in Dario Fu’s We Won’t Pay, Howard in Rebecca Gilman’s Boy Gets Girl, Victor in Noel Coward’s Private Lives, Trip Wyeth in Other Desert Cities and most recently Solyony from the Chekhovian classic Three Sisters. All characters who I feel inhabit a quirky side inside them that makes the artistic process of working on them interesting and fun! I also have done commercials for: Jersey Mike Subs, The Lift (with Al Roker), Optimum Cable, NJR Home Service etc.
Why theater: Because it’s magic. You pay for a ticket and once you enter the theatre and the lights go dark you are instantly transported to a different place, a different time, a different reali-ty. It’s live. Everything is happening “right now”, both for the audience and the actors - we are all “one”. You are never sure of how it’s going to turn out, which makes it much more exciting (and nerve wrecking). For me personally - from an actor’s point of view - theatre is a true treat: the language is richer, the characters more complex. For a month or so you get to spend a lot of time with other creative minds, which is my favorite part. And if you are gifted an opportunity to work with a great passionate director, which I have been, it’s always a growing point as an actor. I guess with competition from online streaming - Netflix, Youtube etc., theater has become a dying form of art. I still think it’s sexy…
Who do you play in Psychic Cafe: I play Lorenzo Duefacci (which means two faces in Italian…), the eccentric and narcissistic owner of the cafe. I’ve always liked playing the crazies, but I also find it challenging. It’s easy to go full out crazy but artistically that’s not always correct, it could easily be perceived as indulgent emotional “throwing up” on stage. It’s always challenging finding the balance within the imbalance so you can control it and not be controlled by “it”.
Tell us about Psychic Cafe: Psychic Cafe is a new play by Anthony Fusco directed by Anna Governali as part of the 2016 Strawberry Play Festival. The play is a crazy comedy with a big heart (which is my favorite genre to be in) based on real people and a real cafe Fusco worked at. The play follows the cafe owner with the arrival of the new cafe tarot reader and several of the neurotic regular clients that inhabit the cafe. I guess the play shows the dependency people can develop towards fortune tell-ers and how it dictates their lives and how sometimes the prophecy you do your best to avoid from happening will actually come true because of your actions.
What is it like being a part of Psychic Cafe?: It’s a great experience. I love working with Anna and Anthony, and my fellow cast members always make me laugh just by watching them during rehearsals. I’m also excited to perform at the Theatre at St. Clement’s as part of the Strawberry Play Festival.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I enjoy and appreciate the big blockbuster productions Broadway has to offer, and at the same time I also enjoy and am moved by smaller scale “Off-Off” productions with “smaller” stories. As an audience member I feel a play has a lasting effect when it involves an intimate, emotional story. I feel Inspiration comes in all forms… You can find it within a bite of food, landscape, a painting you see, a song you heard, a movie you see, some-thing you read, a conversation… It’s also very helpful to have a supportive group of peers sur-rounding you, and the more diverse the better as you are able to explore and experience more of yourself through interaction with different types of people. This might be a cliche, but I have to admit it’s the life I’ve had so far - all the obstacles and stops I had on the way, the hardships and the joy, the people I met. Some of the people remain an integral part of my life, others just flashed by never to be seen or heard again but left an eternal effect.
Any roles you’re dying to play?: Petruchio from Taming of the Shrew, just so I can prove to a certain friend I can in fact be a “prick”. I’d love to play Bobby in Company if ever they adapt a non-musical version. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion even though I am far from being the type cast for that role, I would love to adapt and take a stab at it. What a wonderful piece of literature. A true treat for an actor. I keep being told I’m a good fit for any given Neil LaBute play.
What’s your favorite showtune?: Does A Night with Janis Joplin count? But no doubt one of my favorite songs is Sondheim’s "Losing My Mind" from Follies. I’ve been there.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Estelle Parsons, Nora Ephron, Michelle Williams. Constantin Stanislavski
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: "Les Misera-bles…?" I am often told I look like Zachary Quinto and Christoph Waltz… so it can be an epic biopic where both of them will play me at different ages. I’m guessing it would be called: “Because I didn't have any other choice”.
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Any Bob Fosse directed musical. Lucky Guy, Nora Ephron’s last play. Oh! and Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark….
What show have you recommended to your friends?: The Humans which was outstanding and I’m happy I had the chance to watch it Off Broadway, before the hype, before the Tony wins. The River -for anyone who has known true love. Crisis: Ocean Planet a production that ran at the Gallery Players and which I thought was one of the best Off-Off Broadway productions I have seen in a long time, well written and crafted. It dealt with the killer whale attack at Sea World in 2010. BFE by Julia Cho produced by Brooklyn Rep. (their first production), What a great story!!
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough Ice-cream and Youtube vid-eo clips from the 80’s.
What’s up next?: I have two productions schedule for mid July - The Waitress and Shattered, and a few commercials. I plan to just keep on auditioning and let life surprise me with what it has in store.
For more on Ran, visit www.ranmlevy.com