Craig dishes! (p.s. he's a real dish!)
WE caught up with Craig Fols who plays Director, Roger DeBris in The Producers...read on!
Craig as Roger Debris (in gown) and John West as Carmen Ghia
I was born in Jamestown, New York, but moved to southern New Jersey when I was five. My father had left our family, and we (my mother, sister and I) moved into my grandparent's basement. That summer I put on my first play, in that basement--which I wrote, directed and starred in--(co-stars: my sister and my cousin)--and basically I've been doing the same thing ever since.
I started working in professional theatre when I was fifteen--summer stock and dinner theatre. When I was seventeen, I moved to Philadelphia and began supporting myself, working in theatres and restaurants. At nineteen, I moved to New York to study at Circle In the Square. Very shortly after that I did a new play with Colleen Dewhurst, who is/was a major hero/mentor. (I spent many holidays at her home, "The Farm," in South Salem.) I did many plays around this time that were written by Lanie Robertson, who was a major influence both personally and professionally. Another mentor was the Broadway conductor Jack Lee, who showed me how I could be a "serious" actor in musicals. Later, when I did THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS, many of my childhood musical theatre heroes came to see the show, and I had a chance to meet them and tell them how much they meant to me: Harold Prince, Stephen Sondheim, Kander and Ebb, Arthur Laurents, Carol Channing.
I tend to like shows in the classic American musical theatre mold, both comic and serious. Roles I'd really like to play but haven't played yet include Sweeny Todd, Henry Higgins, Harold HIll, and the King of Siam. One of the fun things about doing MUSICAL OF MUSICALS was that by parodying all those different musicals I really feel that I've played all those characters, from Billy Bigelow to Molina in KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN.
I do think people are either funny or they aren't.
I've always taken Mel Brooks for granted as an American comic master, but doing THE PRODUCERS has given me a new found respect and appreciation for him. (Also a deepening respect for Thomas Meehan, who co-wrote THE PRODUCERS' book.) Now that I'm in this, I'd like to revisit some of his other works, BLAZING SADDLES, etc.
Wearing the gown and especially the shoes was mainly a technical challenge. (I only wore women's clothing once before, in THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP, and those costumes were build to be worn over men's clothing.) At the same time, that dress, and that entrance, sets the tone for my entire performance. If you come in on a lift, to entrance music, wearing a $40,000 gown, you'd better bring a certain amount of, shall we say, size to the procedings.
These days when I'm not working, I'm spending time with my nephew Adam, who is 4. My sister adopted him three years ago, and since she's a single mother, I've been helping her out as much as I can. We spend a lot of time at our family beach house in Cape May, New Jersey. While I was preparing Roger, I would sometimes do some of my lines for Adam while we were building sandcastles, whatever. Something about my Roger voice always made Adam laugh, which I took as a good sign.