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Alan Rachins

By Gary Wien


Alan Rachins recently finished the fifth and final year of the hit television show, "Dharma & Greg" where he played the hippie father, Larry Finklestein. Before that he had a long-running role as attorney Douglas Brackman on "L.A. Law." In addition to his television work, Alan has been in several films and theatrical productions across the country. He is currently starring in the world premiere play, "Attacks on a Heart" playing by George Street Playhouse. Alan spoke to me via phone before one of his rehearsals.

What attracted you to the play Attacks on a Heart?
Many things. First of all, I was looking to do a play. Secondly, it requires a lot. It's beautifully written, it's by Arthur Laurents and it's a world premiere. It is an opportunity to reinvent and work at your craft, to grow and take a big challenge. It's scary... It's a two-character play.

So, there was a challenge and there was an opportunity to do something very different from what I've been doing for the last few years on "Dharma & Greg." I mean this came along and you look at it and say, "this is a mountain... this is worth climbing; this is something that's a challenge and exciting, so that's where you go.

What is the biggest challenge in moving from a television series back to live theatre?
Well, this is big in the sense that this is the other extreme because we are on the stage at all times. We've got a lot to do. We've got a lot of work ahead of us and so it's a huge challenge in that regard. If this was like a six-character play, I don't know that it would feel as such an extreme change from one to another. But, here we are - the two of us - it's kind of like a trapeze act without a net. The world outside has not really existed since we started rehearsals. It's been a hundred percent, a thousand percent focused on this... And it's been great!

What is it like to have a role in a world premiere play?
It gives you a great responsibility to create this character. That's something you appreciate and look forward to.

You've acted everywhere from New York stages to regional performances. What do you think is the biggest difference between a New York staged play and one that is produced regionally?
I don't look at it that way at all. The big difference, as far as I'm concerned, is that the media gives one much more attention than the other. But I don't happen to think that just because a production is away from "The Great White Way" that it's necessarily any less than ones that are. Some may be and some may be better. So, it's really the media attention because as far as an actor goes, our work is our work regardless of where it is.

And more and more plays have premieres outside of New York...
Well, that's the whole economics... There's so few plays and they basically go into New York with things that are more proven these days. So, if it has a world premiere and it does well than they can consider bringing it to New York because it will already have a reputation and they know how it connects to the audience.

Is that something you consider when you choose a run? Do you think about how far or where the play may go?
This is just this. Who knows if it will have a life or what kind of life it will have after that. It's not really a consideration. It's just something to do in and of itself and whatever happens, happens.

In addition to your work on "Dharma & Greg" you also had a long-running role on "L.A. Law" which was a very different character from Larry. Has taking such varied roles helped you from being typecast in a certain type of role?
I hope so because I love the idea of playing different characters and I wouldn't want to be stuck doing the same thing all of the time. That's one of the great things about "Dharma & Greg", it really allowed me to do something different.

But who knows? You just do the next thing that comes along and do the best with it you can and see what happens. It's a crapshoot and you can't really exert control.

You originally went to the Wharton School of Finance, what led you to an acting career?
I had a very domineering father. I didn't get to express myself around him and I guess I saw this as a means of being able to express myself. And when I saw Rebel Without A Cause, which was a movie I saw with my father when I was eleven - James Dean, at one point in that movie, yelled at his father. And it all came together for me. Somehow, this was a way to just completely express everything that's inside of you that's been bottled up.

In addition to acting, you have also been involved with the writing and directing aspects of the business as well. How has that helped you?
I have. I went to the American Film Institute for two years during some time off at one point. And that definitely helped me a great deal because it kind of demystified all of the equipment.

I'm interested in both sides. It helped me to see myself more as part of the process. It was a good thing to take that time off and do that.

Do you have any plans set up for after this run or will you be reading new scripts?
Every time I've done a play in the past, it always gives you something enormouse inside you. It's hard to be able to predict what's going to happen next because you come away from a play with something more inside of you that allows for other things to happen. And you don't know what they are. It just allows for a different kind of energy to come in and move you to the next place.



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Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.
Pebble Players Presents "Heathers, the Musical: High School Edition"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Celebrating their 10th season, Pebble Players has been entertaining Summit residents and audiences from surrounding towns with sophisticated Off-Broadway quality performances. The 2018 Season opens with "Heathers The Musical: High School Edition," directed by Jayne Myers and choreographed by Jaimie Woodruff.  Performances are Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 18 at 2:00pm. 
NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies from Thursday, March 21, 2019 - Saturday, March 23, 2019. The high-style music of “The Duke” is the heart and soul of this 1981 Tony-winning Broadway hit, directed with dazzle by André De Shields (The Wiz). Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, re-creates the original show’s elegant dancing and tapping as choreographer.
Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater present Teahouse by Lao She
(PRINCETON, NJ) --Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Teahouse by Lao She on November 16, 17 and 18 at 8:00pm and November 17 at 2:00pm in the Donald G. Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. Teahouse is considered a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese theater, spanning 50 years in modern Chinese history from the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the Republican Revolution to the birth of the People’s Republic, bringing together over sixty characters who represent all walks of life. The production is directed by senior Changshuo Liu.
Axelrod's Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program Presents "Peter Pan"
(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) --  A family musical that’s perfect for the holiday season, “Peter Pan” is flying onto the Axelrod stage December 8-16. Axelrod’s award-winning Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts program presents one of Broadway’s timeless classics in a fully staged production directed by Lisa Goldfarb with musical direction by Randy Hurst and choreography by Wendy Roman.  


Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!
"It's a Blast!" Go See Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour NOW! at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino!
The five-time Tony award-nominated Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, returns to the stage with a 10th Anniversary Tour at Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino! Performed in the venue’s ultra-modern Sound Waves theater, Rock of Ages runs from now until November 4, 2018.
There's One In Every Family: "Charley's Aunt" at The Shakespeare Theatre
On stage now through November 18 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, “Charley’s Aunt” is described as “part Oscar Wilde, part ‘Fawlty Towers,’ with a dash of South American spice!” This side-splitting British farce from 1892 has drag, mistaken identity, romance and plenty of physical comedy. Join Jesse and Dave at rehearsals in Florham Park to hear from the cast and director what makes this such a hilarious and enduring show.






Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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