www.NEWYORKQNEWS.com   ::   www.FIREISLANDQNEWS.com   ::   www.QNEWSMEGAMALL.com   ::   www.GAYLIFEINAMERICA.com   ::    ad.   www.THEBESTOFFIREISLAND.com
   blogs: mundo[Q] »   |   [Q]metropolis »
advertisement: www.26west17.com »   |   www.cjmingolelli.com »
Conversations–Eric Hafen
by Sherri Rase     |      Bookmark and Share
photo provided by Eric Hafen
Eric Hafen

Eric Hafen is now celebrating his 10th season as the Bickford Theatre’s Artistic Director and what a season he has set! The Bickford Theatre is located in the bucolic heart of Morris Township in the Morris Museum, one of the premiere cultural institutions in New Jersey. Eric took a few moments from his busy schedule to speak with Q on Stage while Ira Levin’s “Veronica’s Room” is in rehearsal, preparing to open Friday, January 27.

Q on Stage: Your career has spanned acting in Worcester, Massachusetts and touring New England to working in New York City, as well as in Regional Theatre, and more. You started a Summer Theatre called Theatre at the Mount, on Mount Wachusett Community College Campus—could you tell us a bit about that?
Eric Hafen: I founded that theatre and ran it for seven years. I took the plastic off the light board and the sound equipment was still in the box! The orchestra pit had a hydraulic lift, it was amazing. They’re still running, more of an academic theatre today: 554 seats … stadium style seating.

QoS: That was until 1985, when you moved to New Jersey. What brought you here?
EH: I had done a play with Edgar Lansbury directing–yes, Angela’s brother—about Niagara Falls. He asked why I wasn’t in New York competing. So I did–not Broadway, though lots more soap work, showcases and such rather than theatre. Then I turned around and looked across the river at New Jersey and began my work here.

QoS: Where did you first work in New Jersey?
EH: Park Theatre in Union City—I played the nephew in “The Sunshine Boys.” Then I played the Fiesta Dinner Theatre in Wood Ridge, NJ. One summer though, back in 1992 or 1993, I couldn’t get a part, get a director job, anything. A friend called to say they are looking for a coordinator for the Batman Stunt show at Six Flags, in Jackson. A separate production company, the Totally Fun Company, was the production company for the stunt show, not Six Flags. That worked out so well that they called me to install the Batman Forever show and the dancing for the other shows there. They liked me so much that ultimately they kept me and dumped the production company. We then did the Lethal Weapon Stunt Show on the water. They kept expanding my time, lengthening my season each year, until Time Warner sold the park to a firm from Oklahoma. Then I went to Jekyll and Hyde, the restaurants in New York City. I straightened out their shows, and they were all Equity people. The Jekyll and Hyde owners wanted to open restaurants in Chicago as well as somewhere in Texas, but they had so much to do getting things on track in the city that I never left New York. The restaurant people didn’t understand the theatre people. Then I read that the Artistic Director of the Bickford Theatre had just resigned. I sent in my resume, and within two weeks I had the position. I finished up my predecessor’s season—my first play here was “Crimes of the Heart,” and then another play. My first day of my first full season was September 11, 2001. I couldn’t get my actors out of the city! We didn’t cancel the play or the season and while that was rocky, we ended the season well with Ira Levin’s “Dr. Cook’s Garden.” In some ways, we’ve come full circle this year bringing back Ira Levin.

QoS: I was reading reviews of “Veronica’s Room” and, even though it’s more than a generation old, I realized that it’s about the most traditional kind of identity theft. What was the genesis of the choice?
EH: While my theme is to produce plays from playwrights whom I’ve produced over my tenure here at the Bickford, I’ve done Ira Levin several times. Choosing was not easy though. Planning seasons was interesting too. My predecessor had already done “Deathtrap” and “No Time for Sergeants” (the inspiration for “Gomer Pyle”), obviously more of a comedy, was just too large!
“Veronica’s Room” is dark and very interesting. This play is about deception. Levin has made some changes in the play from how it was originally written and I feel that makes it a better play. If a theatre-going audience watches TV, the feel of this play is very much like “Criminal Minds” and “CSI” and really falls into the genre people will find familiar.
I saw a production of this play by students in the city, and they did the first, original version. This was a surprise. When you consider the time in which he was writing, he was tapping into what other playwrights and novelists were doing as well. Even his own “The Stepford Wives” was tapping into that vein of change, women’s rights and how the world itself was changing.

QoS: Ten seasons here in Morristown–where do you see the Bickford going in the foreseeable future?
EH: I would like to get into some new work, not necessarily to develop it like John [Pietrowski] does at Playwright’s Theatre, but rather to do a season of a single playwright for example. What I’d really like to do is get more people into the seats. We’ve had the same percentage of capacity pretty much for the last ten years–I’d like to see more people enjoying our productions. I try to choose pieces that have both familiarity and obscurity. I did a play by Jack Neary called “First Night” that takes place New Year’s Eve. I’d love to do “Arsenic and Old Lace,” but it has a large cast and is done a great deal in high schools and community theatre. I look for a good story, a familiar title that’s not overdone. For a while, if the play was written in October, that’s when I’d produce it, but I’m less bound by that now. If I do something big in the fall, however, I need to balance that throughout the year both from a production and a budgetary standpoint.
Recently at one of our Jazz Concerts, a woman came up to me to say how much she enjoys the concerts of Big Band music and the like, yet when she discovered that I am the Artistic Director, she asked “what is it that you DO?” She was very honest and it has become the basis for one of my lectures when I speak to groups–how I select plays, how we produce plays and I’ve got to say I’ve been fortunate–I’ve had really good creative teams and really good casts.

QoS: How do you foster a positive attitude and good energy among your cast, staff and stage people?
EH: First, it helps that I am an eternal optimist and I personally believe in the Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale, Joel Osteen and similar philosophies–I read them all. I let my cast and my crew know they can experiment, they can feel free to try anything! We have no problems, just challenges waiting to be resolved. I’m not a micro-manager, and ultimately my boss is my audience. If you don’t please your guests, they ain’t coming back!

Visit the Bickford Theatre at www.BickfordTheatre.org or call 973/971-3706 for tickets and information. Chills, thrills and thought provoking theatre await. “Veronica’s Room” runs January 26 through February 12 and seats are going quickly, so act now.


   Fire Island Pines Real Estate, Cherry Grove Real Estate, all Fire Island Real Estate - Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate     Fire Island Pines Real Estate, Cherry Grove Real Estate, all Fire Island Real Estate - Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate
New York Q News Fire Island Realtors The Best Of Fire Island
Gay E-zine with everything hip and happening in New York City. News and events all around the city.
The best summer rentals properties and homes for sale in all of Fire Island, The Pines and the Grove.
Fire Island Pines, Cherry Grove, Ocean Beach, Water Island & all of Fire Island Residentials Sales and Summer Rentals.
New York City Real Estate - Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate Fire Island Pines Real Estate, Cherry Grove Real Estate, all Fire Island Real Estate - Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Shopping Online? Real Estate Blog CJ Mingolelli
Gives Us a Try. Online Mega Mall. Your community online shopping mall/Apparel, Books, Movies, Cars, Homes and much, much more ...
Real Estate News, tips and comments about New York City and Fire Island Real Estate.
Visit Our BLOG >>
Fire Island Pines & Cherry Grove Homes For Sale & Summer Rentals: Season, Month & Weekly.



The Best of Fire Island.com >>
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Apple Store


[ Return to Top of the Page ]