The Patriot Ledger
April 25, 2013
CHIT CHAT: Jon Young, Curtain Call Theatre
Jon Young of Braintree portrays disgraced President Richard Nixon in Curtain Call Theatre’s production of “Frost/Nixon.” The play, written in 2007, dramatizes the interviews conducted by British television presenter David Frost with President Nixon that aired in 1977.
Young, 63, an attorney, said that during rehearsal, he came to appreciate how intelligent the former president was.
Young talks more about the role.
Q: Have your memories of Nixon influenced the way you play him?
A: Yes and no. The author of the play has written it so that it allows for some interpretation when it comes to facial expressions and emotions. The play is factually based. You put on stage what you think and the director thinks is the best portrayal, so again, yes, but no. So how do I play this guy? Do I play him like [comic] Rich Little, or Frank Langella, or do I be me doing the script? The end result is a compromise. It’s been a process.
Q: How did you prepare for the role?
A: I watched some of the film and I’ve done some more background reading. It brings into greater depth whatever memories I have. Back then, my impression was primarily through the media. Now I have read some first hand accounts of who he was by people who knew him. The background reading got the juices flowing. He seemed to have almost two personalities. One where he expressed warmth and humor when he was among those he liked and liked him. Then there was the shrewd politician we all saw in public.
Q: What was the most difficult part of playing the role?
A: The way his lines are written, he has a number of soliloquies, and they can be hard to learn. Then there are the ones where he’s repetitive. To remember the order, the interpretation, that is difficult. It is a matter of trying to understand who this guy was, in the context he found himself in at the moment. When he was doing the interviews, he doesn’t respect Frost from the get-go, but he learns to respect him by the end. That’s part of the process, the fun, the interpretation of the character.
Click here to link to the review online