The scene: a cluttered backyard of a small-town Texas bar in 1972. The protagonist, Roy, a macho type, is wrestling with the fact that his glory years are in the rear-view mirror. How does one regain one’s life after serving ina war? How relevant is this story to today? Matt de Rogatis, who plays Roy, answers some questions about the production:
Could you tell us a little about the original run of the play (1979)?
Yes, sure. The playwright, James McLure, first presented Lone Star in 1979 at the Festival of New American Plays at the Actors Theater of Louisville. It was very well received and so that summer a production of Lone Star successfully moved to Broadway and ran for 69 performances at the Century Theatre. The central character, Roy Caulder, was played by the well known actor Powers Boothe.
Tell us a little about Lone Star without giving away the magic?
”Lone Star is a wonderful play. I think James McLure is a very underrated playwright who has a huge following out west but maybe never garnered the attention he deserved with New York audiences. Our production of Lone Star is only the second revival of the play since the 1979 production. Think about that. With all the theaters in the city and all the shows constantly being produced, our showing of Lone Star is only the second time New York City audiences have been exposed to it in nearly 40 years.
”Without giving away too much, the central character, Roy, is back home to Maynard, Texas 1972 after a two year stint in Vietnam. Like many Vets of the time, Roy is having a hard time getting his life back together, keeping a job, keeping relationships and integrating himself back into society after seeing the horrors of war. This play is one of the first ones that touched on the subject of PTSD and it's certainly something Roy is carrying around with him throughout the story. He has gotten into the habit of going out back behind his favorite bar every night and soothing himself on junk food and Lone Star beer. On this particular night, his brother Ray, played by Chris Loupos, comes out back to try to get him to come home and it sets off a series of events that includes both hilarity and tragedy - relatively speaking.
“It's a one act play with three characters. The third character is Cletis, played by Greg Pragel, who is a nemesis of Roy.
“The cast and I joke around backstage and call the show ‘the ultimate thrill ride’ because that's what it feels like. In a little less than an hour we all run the gauntlet of emotions and have a hell of a time doing it.”
Who do you play? Tell us about the role.
Matt de Rogatis: “I play Roy, the Vietnam Vet. The thing that's so interesting about Roy that makes him relatable, even to today's audiences is - he's an alpha male, the big dog, and yet underneath, he's suffering. His marriage is falling apart, his life HAS fallen apart. War has shattered this guy but he's not comfortable talking about it. I think even today, guys aren't supposed to talk about their feelings. Especially if they are war heroes like Roy.
“So he puts on airs and smothers his feelings by drinking alcohol and talking about the past; life before the war. It's sad. Even a little pathetic.
“Throughout the course of the story Roy comes to realize that it's time to let go of these things and to focus on the people, the good people, that are in his life right now who want to see him get better.
“It's unclear after the story ends if Roy will actually get his life together but this is my favorite character I have ever played and I like to think that he does. Again, it's a wonderful play that has it all. I wish there was a sequel. I want to know what happens to the two brothers after this night ends. I want to know if Roy will be alright.”
Lone Star closes it's run this Saturday night May 13th 9pm at The Triad Theater 158 West 72nd Street in New York City. To learn more about the show and to purchase tickets, Visit www.DrinkBeerRaiseHell.com. Enter promo code THUNDERBIRD at checkout for a Texas Sized Discount! The Triad has a two-drink minimum.