James LePore is currently playing Harry Roat in The Newtowne Player’s production of “Wait Until Dark”, running through Sunday, October 21st.
Bio: James LePore (Harry Roat), grew up on Long Island, NY, and has been a self-proclaimed TV, film, stage, and radio dreamer his entire life. After moving to Southern Maryland in 2006, he got his start as an actor in a local Ghost Tour and was hooked. 10 years later, he’s not only appeared in over a dozen stage productions, but also became a radio DJ, hosted a weekly TV show in Southern Maryland called “The Buzz”, and now produces his own version of the TV show on YouTube (“What’s the Buzz with James LePore”). He has certainly been given many opportunities to live the dream, and lives every minute looking forward to meeting new friends and learning new things. He’d like to thank all of those talented and wonderful people who have grown him and pushed him to chase his dreams.
For more information about The Newtowne Player’s production, “Wait Until Dark”, click here.
How is the character you play, Harry Roat, similar/different than who you are in real life?
Wow, talk about contrasts. James LePore is a big puddle of emotion. I believe in romance, giant hugs that last a full minute, crying at movies or songs that hit a particular emotional chord, and I’m not shy about telling people that mean something to me how important they are. I start every day with gratitude. My Feng Shui number is 3, or “bringer of light,” and I take that very seriously every day. Harry Roat, on the other hand, is a sociopath. He sees the goal – money – and does not see any moral problems with doing whatever needs to be done to get there, including but not limited to, murder, torture, sadism, and who knows what else. As an actor – reaching inward for whatever dark stuff the back of my mind can generate, and letting it spill out into the world safely, is deliciously satisfying. When we get shrieks from our audience, it is so hard to stifle a smile and a chuckle of satisfaction for a job well done. That job well done is the product of the creative genius that is my director, DJ Lavery, who has made this show the gasp! that it is. I’d work for him again even if he was directing the phone book. Harry Roat is also the product of long hours of playing against some of the best actors and actresses (sorry, I’m old school) I’ve ever worked with. Each one’s reaction/interaction with Harry helped me to more finely hone who he is. I would NOT ever want to cross paths with this man in real life, but the audience can, safely, under controlled conditions. He’s like an unpredictable animal let out of a cage.
If you had to choose 5 words to describe “Wait Until Dark,” what words would you choose and why?
Tension. Darkness. Silence. Unpredictable. Engaging.
I say “silence” because sometimes the silence in the dark is even scarier than what you can hear in the dark. Audiences will see and hear what I mean.
Did you audition specifically for this role, or did you have another one in mind?
Oh, no, Harry was my goal. I’d been a longtime fan of the 1967 film with Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin in the role I play. It scared me as a kid, and while the movie itself may be tame to today’s audiences, our creative team who also includes Chris Maulden as Assistant Director and Stage Manager Megan Rankin Herring, has found ways to revive the scares and bring the claustrophobic fear of a woman struggling without sight to evade a predator confined in a small space, well, it’s really remarkable. And you will jump. Shrieks are possible, too. It happens every night. In his book, Danse Macabre, Stephen King writes, “WAIT UNTIL DARK is the scariest movie of all time” and that Alan Arkin’s performance “may be the greatest evocation of screen villainy ever”. How could I not want that role?
What is your favorite part of “Wait Until Dark”?
I don’t think I’d being giving anything away to say the last scene – almost everyone knows it will be a final, climactic battle in the dark with Susy, the blind woman, but there is a MOMENT in that scene where I get to deliver a line that is so sadistic, so controlling, so evil – it’s just my favorite line by far. If I were given a second choice, it would have to be my last 4 words in the play. During the initial read-through, it gave a few people chills. I’m surprised they still wanted to work with me. Haha.
How did you go about becoming Harry Roat?
I watched Alan Arkin’s performance, to be sure, but I also watched Stacey Keach play the same in a 1982 made for TV movie, and watched several clips of Harry Roat on YouTube played by community theatre actors, looking to see what I liked and what I didn’t like. I looked up sociopaths on the internet and thought about how one would act if all moral influences were removed. Certainly my director had everything from overreaching ideas to minute fine-tuning, and so did my castmates. My best advice as an actor; never stop listening. I can’t tell you how many times my fellow actors would tell me that one particular thing was great or something wasn’t working, and it tipped the balance scale of Harry one way or another, so to speak. Creative people feed off one another, and that’s the way it should be. Nobody knows everything, especially in the intangible world of the performing arts. There’s shades of improvement to be had everywhere. I thank my directors and cast-mates – Stephanie Diane Taubert, Michael Sokoloff, Kenny Faison, Eva Reynolds, Madysen Maulden, Thom Esposito, Mike Culbreath, and Steve Fogle for providing me with ideas on those shades. It’s a team effort. Come see for yourself, then say hi to us in the lobby after the show. I mean, you know, when your hands stop shaking.