Interview with Paul Page

Paul Page: Actor, Producer and Voice-Over Artist

Paul Page is a professional actor and singer based in Denver, CO and available to travel anywhere for work. He has acted on stage, TV and film since 1978. You can find out more about Paul and his work from his website – https://www.paulpage.biz

TSM: Thank you so much for interviewing for a Talent Spotlight Magazine.

PP: Thanks for the invitation.

TSM: When did you first know you wanted to become an actor?

PP: I will say when I was about thirteen. I was cast in my first play at church, which was Charlie Brown’s Easter(it was my church leaders that wrote this original play for Easter). I was cast as ‘Pig Pen,’ and they thought that was kind of funny because it’s the same as my initials (Paul Page/Pig Pen). So, everybody made a big joke of that and I got a lot of attention, and so that’s when I knew. Then I knew for sure absolutely when I went to college at Kent State University, where in 1970, the National Guard killed four students on the campus, so it’s that school. I started there three years after this happened. I went into Kent State majoring in speech and minoring in French. I had done very well in French in high school, and I was very drawn to the romance of the French language. I could hear it and speak it very well, and so I went in thinking I’ll do a minor in French. Then I got cast in my first play at school, and then it was all over. So, I did several plays, and by the end of the freshman year of the school year, I changed my major to theatre. By the time I just turned nineteen, then I was all in as they say.

TSM: Out of all the roles you’ve played on TV, film and stage, is there one role in particular that stands out as a favourite for you?

PP: Yes, there is one, and I did it in 2013. It’s a play called Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Robin Williams had done it on broadway, and it was the regional premier in the state of Denver. I was offered the role and hand-picked. I didn’t have to audition, so the ego felt good. Lol. I think it stands out for me because I resisted it for so long; I said to myself this isn’t me, I don’t fit well, I’m so uncomfortable, who is he? Finally, with the help of my director, right before the play opened, I was able to click and know who he was. Something happened, I don’t even know what it is, I had a very encouraging and uplifting private conversation with my director, and he gave me some tips. He said remember this, think about this, you want to look at this and I went home and slept on it. I woke up the next day and went yes, I got this. It was a powerful opportunity for me to play something so polar opposite from what I normally get. I normally get businessman, father, doctor, priest, white-collar. I don’t ever get cast as the construction worker, or the cab driver. I get white-collar roles. Well, this character is actually a tiger, who gets shot by American soldiers in Iraq, right at the beginning of the outbreak in 2003. They go through this zoo, and this tiger lunges at one of them and this really happened. He just reacted and accidentally killed the tiger. So, for the whole play, he’s a ghost, and he becomes more human in his death because he starts philosophizing, analyzing, and really started to take on empathy and other human emotions. When another character gets killed, he actually in his death, feels it and gets very emotional. So, I thought it was a powerful statement, it stretched me as an actor, and people would just come to see it. People would even come back several times because it’s such a complicated story with so many layers. However, people would come and I would come to greet them afterwards. They would be looking at me like, who are you? I thought I knew you. This was not you. I was not looking at you on that stage at all. So, That stands out for me as the most challenging role, and I’m very, very proud of it. I received some recognition for it in the press, and so that was nice.

TSM: You’ve acted in more than 100 stage productions, so would you say that acting on stage is your preference? If yes, what do you love most about performing on stage?

PP: Yes, because I got my degree in theatre. So, my training throughout college and even into my early twenties was only stage. There is something about taking a script on paper (even though a lot of people now put it on their device). I have to have that paper script as I’m old school. There is something about taking a character and getting to know who he is with the help of a director, of course, and moulding and shaping a life out of your vision, and the character’s vision for who this character is. Then the best part of it is sharing it with a live audience. I love to develop this character and get inside of his head and then share it with a live audience. On more than one occasion because every audience is different.

As the ‘Tiger’ in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

TSM: What is an embarrassing moment you’ve had on stage?

PP: I’ve had more than one. Mostly stuff like that happened when I was younger. I was doing The Robber Bridegroom; it’s a musical and the tall tale of the Old South in Mississippi in the 1700s and I play the village idiot. I played this young (I was 25 when this happened)teenager, who was about 16 or 17, and I had to do these dumb faces and sound really stupid. It was really fun and I got to sing, had my own song. However, there was a bit where the director had me leave the scene, and I was like, okay, bye and left the scene. I was directed to skip Merlie off the stage and turn back to look at them, and then run into the wall. One night on stage, in front of a full audience, full house, I did the bit, but it knocked me so hard that I hit my tailbone on the floor and rolled backwards. I literally did a backflip, and the audience thought it was hilarious. They laughed, screamed, and howled, but it hurt so badly. I severely bruised my tailbone, and this was in the first act. I sat there and was pretty much done for the act. The other thing is it was an ensemble musical. So, the whole cast stayed on stage the whole time, and when it was your time to tell your story, you just got up and moved on stage. I was directed to go sit on the floor, and just sit there like a lump, and I couldn’t sit. I had to lean on the side of my hip, and I was just doing this fake, plastic smile the whole time. I was hurting so badly that when the curtain came down, everybody came running. I had tears running down my face because I was struggling so hard to stay in character and not go, “own, it hurts.” They came running, “can you get through the rest of the show?” The stage manager and producer were there that night. In the dressing room, they put ice on it, and we had to revise some of the movements in act two. I got through it though. Then, immediately, after the performance, they drove me to the ER. The doctor said, “you severely bruised your tailbone, and you’re going to have to cut some of these physical things.”

Twenty-five years ago I was doing a very serious, dramatic play called Death and the Maiden. Actually, I think it takes place in Spain. My character’s name is Geraldo. There were three roles – husband, wife, and a mysterious stranger who we don’t know until later in the play. Well, this was on opening night, we had rehearsed for weeks and weeks. Now you can imagine, when there is a play with only three characters and three actors, there’s a lot of dialogue. We learned because someone came back that worked in the theatre in the box office and said, we have a Critic here tonight from The Denver Post. The leading lady went crazy and got super nervous, and I’m standing in the wings waiting for my first entrance. I’m supposed to be in my pyjamas, and I heard a loud noise, and I awaken. I’m supposed to come out and say, “what is going on?” And be shocked to see this man sitting there. I’m standing in the wings waiting, it’s getting closer, and I’m getting ready to walk out. She jumps way past my entrance and starts feeding him dialogue from an upcoming scene that I’m not part of. So, I thought what am I going to do, she missed my entrance and skipped like two pages past my entrance. It felt like an hour, but it was probably thirty seconds. The other guy was paying attention (the guy that she was talking to). He got back on track and gave me the right cue so that I can say, “Here I am, what’s happening, who are you?” That was nerve-wracking on opening night in front of critics. People had no idea, and she came running to me at intermission to apologize.

I’ve never messed up lines because I really pride myself on being very thorough, and learning the words that the playwright put down on paper. Authors chose specific words for a reason and I learn those words. Now I’ve had actors that have attempted to break me on stage, and crack me up and see if I was going to laugh and break character. Never, I’ve had a lot of people do that to me.

TSM: Is there a role you’d love to play that you haven’t yet?

PP: There is not a specific role, so I can’t name a character. I’ve never played a character who’s mentally challenged, or who has mental retardation, or any kind of emotional or psychological illness. I would love to take that on. I’ve also never played a blind person. I can’t say that there is one particular show or role. I can only talk about the types of roles that I’m drawn to. I just know I want to continue to be challenged, to grow, and to learn. That’s what life is all about.

TSM: Who are some actors you admire and look up to?

PP: I do think Meryl Streep, like most people, just amazes me. She never ceases to surprise me. I am also a big fan of Robert DeNiro, and Leonardo DiCaprio – I would love to work with him. I also think he’s a good human being and cares about our planet. So, I’m drawn to him in that way as well, in addition to how he can escape into a good role.

TSM: What is something that you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting as an actor?

PP: This is hands-down, no need to even think about this, learn to listen. I think what makes a good actor and what makes an actor that other actors and directors want to work with is someone who is a good listener. Good listening also helps you stay present and focused.

From The Robber Bridegroom

TSM: Tell us a bit more about your production company with Eugene Ebner. Are there specific roles that each of you plays in the company?

PP: We formed this company five years ago in 2015, which is also the year we got married. We formed this company at that time to produce fundraisers for charitable organizations, as Eugene would call, ‘Cabaret for a Cause.’ The roles that we play are not really labelled. We’re co-founders and co-owners. However, I’m the one that primarily does the administrative work – paperwork, contracts and press releases. He does the connection with the performers. So he was like that talent and venue liaison. I also designed and made flyers because I’m pretty good at desktop publishing. When we produced the play, In the Closet last year, that was the first time Ebner/Page productions produced anything that wasn’t a musical or a fundraiser. It was our first real theatrical production. It was a dramatic play about a 60 something-year-old gay man learning to accept his place in life right now because his husband just died. In that regard, I continued to do the paperwork, and also was in contact with the theatre itself. While we were producing the play, we were also co-producing a one-night-only musical reading of a new musical that’s in development by the women who wrote the book Mommie Dearest about Joan Crawford. So, Eugene focused a lot on that because it was happening at the same time. I was busy as the main character in the play, and Eugene was more like the errand boy and house manager when it opened.

TSM: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?

PP: If I had a magic wand, I would wave that magic wand and create universal equality and do away with racism and corruption in the government, all governments. I would strive for universal equality, acceptance and inclusion of all people; colours, genders and orientations. I want us all to be one, to come together and try to understand each other, and accept one another at face value.

TSM: What is one of your favourite quotes(or lines) that inspires you?

PP: This goes way back, but I literally tell myself this, and I’ve told Eugene this and I’ve posted this. It just stays with me. It’s a quote from FDR – former President Franklin Roosevelt “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That says so much I think.

TSM: Anything else you’d like to share?

PP: It’s just such a strange time in the world. It’s very strange in this area, and Eugene and I moved here two years ago this month from Denver. All I really want to do is be a working actor. I don’t want to be a star and don’t care if people see me on the street and know who I am. I just want to be thought of when a casting person or producer says, “Hey, I wonder if Paul Page is free. Let’s see if we can get him for that role.” I just want to be somebody that steadily works in the business. It’s just hard because every day Eugene and I say to each other, “Today is a new day, today there are new opportunities.” We acknowledge if we’re in a negative place, and allow ourselves to feel it and get through it, talk about it, and then just know that it’s not going to last forever. It is going to change.

TSM: It was nice talking with you. Thank you so much for doing the interview.

PP: Thank you for inviting me. It was a pleasure to meet you.

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