Jon Cypher

John Cypher
John Cypher

Actor Jon Cypher’s early acting career includes starring on Broadway as Prince Charming with Julie Andrews in “Cinderella” and playing Don Quixote in “Man of La Mancha.” His numerous films and television roles led to 10 years as Chief Fletcher Daniels on “Hill Street Blues.” One afternoon at Boulevard Coffee, we chatted about his 47-year career. This is the first in a two-column Backstage interview.
EH: You’ve done a lot of television, but what is the attraction to theater?
JC: That’s where the passion is. In the theater, the curtain goes up, you’re on stage, and you’ve got to do it. I got to play Thomas Jefferson on Broadway in a musical called “1776.” Out there, there were 2,000 people, and there’s that interaction of that audience. In a movie, you don’t have that. It can be great, great interaction with you and the other actor, a great scene together — it’s wonderful: “Oh my god, I forgot the camera was there.” But there are no people.
It’s being at risk. There’s really no present risk in film today. If something goes wrong, usually the director, will say, “Cut, no problem, let’s go back to one.” In movies or television, when the director says “Print,” 60 people turn around, walk away, and don’t care about you all. You think, “God, I never have to say those lines again.” What a difference. Continue reading Jon Cypher

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Denis Arndt

Denis Arndt
Denis Arndt

Actor Denis Arndt is currently starring as Prospero in “The Tempest” and playing three supporting roles in “The Great Society” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Arndt has had a long and prosperous stage, film and television career. We visited over a scrumptious brunch at the Greenleaf Restaurant in Ashland. This is the first of a two-part Backstage column.

DA: I think that almost all theater should be approached as an athletic event. I think that there’s a physicality to it. Aside from the fact that you have to have some basic chops, you have to speak clearly. You need to know how to breathe, no less than a singer has to know how to breathe, especially in Shakespeare. We used to have contests to see who could actually hold a breath and sustain meaning through seventeen lines of iambic pentameter. Not many people could do it. You start thinking of yourself as a bagpipe, this huge bag that you have to keep filled, and of course that takes a certain kind of commitment. That’s just the technical part of it. There’s also very much of a “spiritual” aspect to it. Theater is a human act, a collective human act.

Continue reading Denis Arndt