Featured Artist interview with actor and director Gregg Edelman – October 2018
How did you get started in theatre?
I started acting in high school in the school plays. I suppose I was looking for a place to belong and I found it backstage. I’ve always seemed to be interested in people and ‘why they do what they do.’ I suppose that fascination has served me well as an actor.
When did you move to Leonia?
I moved to Leonia in November 2001. It was a very scary time for all of us living in the tri-state area. However, the anxiety of the times helped us to quickly bond with our new neighbors. I still remember Ellie Spiegel bounding up the sidewalk on one of my first days in Leonia to bring me a pie. What a woman!
What is the most challenging part of being an actor?
The most challenging part of being an actor, of any free-lance person I would imagine, is learning to live with the uncertainty of it all; the uncertainty of a paycheck, the uncertainty of when the next creative challenge will appear. This is something that an artist must constantly deal with. Let me tell you–it’s a challenge.
What is the most rewarding experience you had as an actor?
I would say that my most rewarding experience I ever had was playing Georg Nowak in an Off-Broadway production of She Loves Me. It was that rare moment when the piece, the actor, and the audience all kind of gelled to make an amazing piece of theatre. I’ve been very fortunate in my career but THAT SHOW was a moment in time that has been difficult to top.
What is your favorite play or show, and why?
My favorite play I have ever seen was The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby; the staggeringly beautiful Broadway production by the Royal Shakespeare Company is emblazoned on my memory as theatre magic and storytelling at it’s best.
Who influenced your acting the most?
I’ve been acting for over 40 years, and as you might imagine, there have been numerous folks who have influenced me. That list is made up of numerous authors, directors, and, of course, actors. The authors: Joe Masteroff, Stephen Sondheim, and A.R. Gurney, to name a few. The directors: Hal Prince, Jerry Zaks, and Michael Blakemore, to name a few. The actors: Brian Bedford, Kate Winslet, Mark Rylance, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Tom Aldredge, to name a few.
You have directed several plays recently. What is the biggest difference between directing a performance and giving a performance?
The difference is pretty simple. As an actor, my job is to serve the author by creating a performance that brings a single character to life. As a director, my job is to serve the author by helping all the actors – and all the other creative collaborators – do their best job in bringing the entire piece to life. The biggest difference in being the director is that I am the facilitator for all the assembled actors and designers to do the best job they can. It can be complicated but…I love it! It’s a sweet job.