Louis Hobson of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris took a couple of moments out of rehearsal to speak with Equality365.com. This show is a musical revue of songs by a little-known Belgian singer/songwriter opened Off-Broadway in 1968 at the Village Gate and astounded the audiences who came to see it. This co-production between the 5th Avenue Theatre and ACT – A Contemporary Theatre is playing now until May 17th. Get your tickets here.
Earle Dutton: What drew you to this role?
Louis Hobson: I actually have a good friend that did the most recent revival in New York. The show was offered to me and initially I was a little gun shy because I didn’t know anything about it. I did some research and looked up some videos of Jacque Brel himself. There was really something about watching him perform some of these songs. Going into first rehearsal I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations about the show. I just knew there was something visceral and true. Those are really all the things you want as an actor/performer. It seemed like elevated Cabaret, if that makes sense.
ED: What would you tell newbies about the show to convince them to attend?
LH: It really depends on your expectations. Theater is all about expectations. If your expectation is that this show is going to be some sort of dated 60’s experimental cabaret show then you are way off. It is very fresh. It is very exciting. The cast is kind of ridiculous. It is really about seeing some amazing performers. You should come just for the voices. You will be intensely rewarded. The material feels very fresh and feels very now even though it was written in this Post-World War II Existential Crisis that was the Mid-Twentieth Century. Come for the performances but stay for the incredible impact that the show has.
ED: How did you get started in theater?
LH: That’s a good question. I got started because I felt like I probably didn’t fit in anywhere else quite well enough. In junior high, I got involved in theater before I got into singing. Then, I got intensely involved in singing in high school. Then it was sort of like a peanut butter cup, the chocolate and the peanut butter kind of went together and made sense. I saw a production of Miss Saigon and that sort of sealed the deal for me. That show solidified my want to do musical theater in some sort of capacity. It wasn’t until college that I decided to do it professionally.
ED: How do you feel about theater in the Pacific Northwest
LH: I love the theater in the Northwest. I think that this is one of the most dynamic and strongest theater communities in the country. There has been a lot of change and turnover at many of the theaters right now. I think that freshness is really invigorating and exciting. I think that regional theaters face a big challenge over the next decade as those costs go up and they realize that the current younger dotcom community has not taken to institutional giving as part of their culture. The challenge is going to be maintaining building and administrative staff with a vastly shrinking audience that is getting older while trying to attract younger patrons. I think we are starting to see a big shift in how regional theaters are structured. It will be interesting to see new models and business plans.
ED: Could you tell me a little about your work with Viggo Mortensen on ‘Captain Fantastic’?
LH: I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of amazing people in film. It was something that I went in and auditioned for and the director liked me. I played a doctor on Broadway for a couple of years so portraying that profession was still fresh to me. It is a really cool film. It has a fantastic cast. It seems like it will be a fun movie with sort of a serious spine. It is about this guy (Viggo Mortensen) who lives out in the woods with his six or seven kids and learns to lives off the land. When he has to move back into society some of those skills aid them but some of really don’t help at all. I play a doctor and I have about two or three pages with Viggo. I was kind of nervous because he is a really formidable actor. The first time I walk on, he has a big beard and is lying on the ground. He shook my hand and I thought well this isn’t that bad. He is so nice and is just such a generous actor. He gave me some great pointers. I have a lot of theater background but film is still a pretty new medium for me. It was just a great chance to work with that caliber of actor.
ED: Do you have a dream role that you haven’t played yet?
LH: Oh yes, I would love to play George in Sunday in the Park with George. It is just this really big role. I would go anywhere to play that role.