Curtain Call: A Toast to the Roast

 

It’s not our habit to report on things that have come and gone. We want our readers to actively participate in the community, so it is our general policy to only write about theatrical events people can actually attend after reading about them. And admittedly, last Saturday’s Richlier Moving Picture Company Roast of veteran local actor Greg Korin was largely an inside joke, bedazzled with expletives we can’t print. Yet, the exception must be made.
Theater in The 570 often feels as much a ruthless competition as a collaborative art form. The region’s chronically underfunded theater groups are forced to vie for the attention of the few people inclined to spring for a theater ticket beyond the occassional Broadway tour. Unlike artists working in visual media who faithfully attend each other’s exhibit openings, theater people often can’t attend their colleagues’ performances because they are in rehearsal for, if not in the middle of, a run of their own. Opposing the clique company stereotypes and evading ensemble restrictions, Korin — a native of Montana often billed as Keith Edwards — worked with every theatre group, both community and professional, up and down both valleys in the twenty-some years he spent in NEPA. He made a lot of friends, and it was exhilarating to see the fraction of them that would fit in The Olde Brick Theatre on Saturday reminiscing and rejoicing as one community rather than separate companies. 
Modeled after the Friar’s Club Roasts seen on Comedy Central, the R-rated event targeted audience members and the roasters as much as the roastee. It’s safe to say none of us have laughed so hard for so long … maybe ever. Invited to the dais were producers Jeff Boam and Sam Falbo, Rich Drees, Tom Flannery, Brian Hughes, Kerry Kearns, Chris O’Donnell, Paul Winarski, and yours truly. Thankful that no one expected me to be funny, I kept my shtick short and significantly sweeter than most. Winarski’s recap of choice lines from reviews I wrote over the years probably got more laughs than the handful of digs I had scribbled down earlier that afternoon.
Company, 2005: “Greg Korin gives an adequate, but unexceptional performance.”
Cementville, 2006: “Greg Korin has bitten off more than he can chew.”
The Rocky Horror Show, 2007: “Korin’s Dr. Scott is good for a laugh, if nothing else.”
To be fair, I probably was a little harder on Greg than some of the region’s other “amateur” performers. He repeatedly called attention to his professional credits and aspirations, and with all due respect, I gave him the treatment deserving of a professional. I took him seriously. Korin managed to take theatre seriously, without taking himself too seriously. And in an industry notoriously claustrophobic with ego, this was a breath of fresh air. It takes considerable guts to consistantly demand respect for an art form deemed irrelevant and old-fashioned by the masses. We’re going to miss those guts.
Video footage of the roast was shot by John Dawe and can be viewed on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/jdawe.