Guest Blogger: Rob Pantano

Hi there. Been a while. It’s me, Rob. I’m back for another blog, because I’ve been asked (I honestly don’t know why) if I’d like to write more. I don’t mind. Let’s be honest, what actor DOESN’T want to talk about him/herself? Seriously, no matter how much an actor may deny it, we all want to be the center of attention. It’s part of why we do it. And right now, I’m (hopefully) the center of your attention.

Last time we spoke, I was about to open The 39 Steps. Well, that show was as much of a success as it was fun to do! I had a great time with everyone involved in the show and the audiences were nothing short of wonderful! On a few occasions, I was lucky enough to talk with some Hilberry patrons who made the trip up to Meadowbrook just to see the show. It was a fantastic experience on every level. And as if that wasn’t enough of a treat, The 39 Steps made it to the second place position for most tickets sold in the last SEVEN years at the theater!

Since the closing of that show I have been working on a show called New Jerusalem by David Ives at the Jewish Ensemble Theater, directed by David Magidson. I’m sure the amazing Theater Managers of The Hilberry Theater have put in all sorts of links so that you can find out about the show. I am doing this play with such talented people that it’s hard to call it work. I was trying to relate to a friend from back home what it’s like to work with these people. I said “You know when you’re watching a movie, and one of the character gives you the chills, just by speaking. No special effects. No CGI. Just a chilling performance?” That’s what it’s like. All the time. You would THINK that because we run a play OVER AND OVER again before it opens, that the jokes would become stale for us; that the shocking moments would simply become mechanical. Well, you’d be right some of the time. But I tell you, I have watched these performances over and over again and I STILL get chills.

I have been lucky again: during the rehearsal process for New Jerusalem at the JET, I was asked to fill in for someone who had to drop out of the production of Anne Frank. It isn’t a large role (“thief/nazi” to be exact) but it’s an extra paycheck and another chance to work with some new people and some of the folks from New Jerusalem!

And finally, I have just started rehearsals for the final show of the season at The Planet Ant Theater. Salvage is a new play by Detroit-based playwright Joe Zettelmaier. I play one of the two characters in the play. This is the first time I will be part of a staging of an original work. I’m both proud and ashamed of this fact. Ashamed because I feel I should have been part of a new work before now; proud because it’s a play that I couldn’t put down and can’t wait to be the one to originate the role.

Salvage will bring me through May 16, and it will mark my first full year out of the Hilberry. I have been extremely lucky this year, having been involved in 8 shows at 6 different theaters! I can trace almost every show I’ve been cast in back to a connection or friendship I made while at the Hilberry. There is a lot to say about education and training, but I don’t think enough is said about networking. I don’t think I was “handed” any role, mind you, but sometimes it’s not “who you know” but “who knows you.”

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