Behind the scenes at Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Donor Newsletter Issue 2 Article II

The Patriarch Triumphant: An Interview with Acting Veteran William “Bill” Metzo

The World Premiere of Bad Dog opens this weekend, April 8th, and runs through to May 3rd. Bad Dog follows the story of Molly Drexler, who after ten years of sobriety, tumbles off “the wagon” by driving her Prius through her house. Her family tries to cope with her wreckage, but ends up running headfirst into their own demons. Old wounds are re-opened and new ones are made in this comedic family drama.

Bill Metzo

In the middle of that drama is William “Bill” Metzo, an esteemed actor from New York City, who plays Molly’s Father- Walter Drexler.  Metzo has had a long successful career as an actor, having appeared on Broadway in Café Crown, Arsenic & Old Lace, and Cyrano as well as National Tours of Annie, Guys and Dolls, and the Royal National Theatre’s production of Carousel. He has also worked on Off Broadway productions, recurring roles in TV shows, won Florida’s Carbonell Award for Best Actor as the Marquis de Sade in Quills and, as King Lear, lead the Utah Shakespeare Festival in their Tony Award winning season.

Isabella Ward, Aspiring Actress and Marketing Intern, sat down with Bill to discuss his esteemed career, what advice he has, and why you should come see the show.

IW: What’s your Tweet pitch for seeing Bad Dog?
BM: “It’s a very funny play, timely… you might even see yourself in the play!”

IW:  Without spoilers, could you tell us a little about your character in Bad Dog?
BM: “Walter is the patriarch of this dysfunctional family. He comes to fix things- though this is not the first time he’s come to straighten things out. He is a successful business man.”

IW: How did you get your start?
BM: “My first play was in my high school English class: The Valiant. I was the criminal. In college I was in the Drama Club but received my BA in Economics. Back then small schools didn’t have these theatre programs like they do now.”

IW: What’s your most favorite/challenging aspect of acting?
BM: “Not to lie, but to be truthful.”

IW: This is your third Season working with OST, previously staring in Polonius in Hamlet and Prospero in The Tempest, what do you think sets OST apart as a theatre?
BM: “Well it’s about the work. Jim [Helsinger] is a smart guy and the point of view for his productions have always been fascinating.”

IW: You learned from the great Stella Adler and later went on to become an Acting Coach, what advice do you have for those starting out?
BM: “You have to really want it so badly. I have kids who ask me if they should go into the theatre. If they ask me that, I say no, because if they don’t know, they’ll be eaten up. So there should be no doubt about their desire, because that is the big thing. The beginning is the absolute need to do it. “

IW: If you could go back twenty years and tell yourself-as-an-actor something, what would it be?
BM: “Be more patient and accepting.”

IW: How is it different doing theatre vs. being on TV?
BM: “The theatre is to uplift. When I studied with Stella we were the chosen ones, it was our duty and responsibility to make the world a better place. There’s a vast difference between entertainment and art and you have to know the difference. Hamlet has a quote, ‘Now this overdone or come tardy off, though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of the which one must in your allowance o’erweigh a whole theatre of others.’ Meaning you play to the one who knows and bring the other 1499 people to that level. So you don’t play to the lowest common denominator. Theatre is a very special place and should be like going to church.”

IW: What’s your dream role?
BM:  “Well I did Lear ten years ago so I would like to do it again I thought once though that if I ever had to right a biography I would entitle it Carrying Cordelia which I think is a nifty title because it would mean someone hired me to play Lear while I’m still strong enough to carry a woman, young enough to remember the lines, so I’d like to do Lear again.”

IW: Favorite Shakespeare Play?
BM: “I have a soft spot for Macbeth. I think I’ve done 20 or 21 of the 36 plays he’s written.”

While speaking with William Metzo, the passion he caries for his art and profession is truly apparent. His belief in staying true to the classical roots of acting while allowing room to grow and flourish in the times that we live in, has truly set him apart from the rest of his colleagues.  William states, “I think it is our responsibility as actors to be politically active, to know what is happening in the world and reflect the world in our work.” He emphasized the importance of desire, specificity, and love needed to be successful as an actor.

“The theatre is the only profession I know that uses all of you. It uses physicality, its uses your spirituality, it uses your intellect, and your emotional life. I don’t know any other profession that makes those demands.”

Come see his outstanding work in Bad Dog at Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, opening April 8th through May 3rd. For more information, feel free to contact our Box Office at (407) 447-1700.

Bill Metzo Headshot

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