Theater Chat with David DiCola
By Dan Tingley
This month I found myself with another great Erie talent. I have watched this man in numerous plays and I am always amazed by his talent. This month I had the pleasure of talking to David DiCola. He always seems shocked when you compliment his acting. To not know your talented may be a great trait. He remains grounded and honest. He also keeps getting better and funnier. In many plays, he plays the straight man. On stage, he gets just as many laughs. He’s truly a great actor.
LET US START WITH SOME BASICS. NAME, AGE AND ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF.
“My name is David DiCola and I am 38 years old and I work at WICU-12 NEWS as a video production technician. I am married and I have no children. I have two cats and a turtle. Both of my parents live in Erie. I have a step father and step brother. My step brother lives in Columbus.”
WHEN DID YOU WANT TO BE AN ACTOR?
“That question is pretty tough because I don’t think there was a definite age or time when I said “yes I want to go into acting”. I thought about it over the years but it was never the first thing on my mind. I watched a lot of movies when I was young and I always thought that it would be fun.”
WHAT WAS THE FIRST PLAY YOU WERE IN?
“My first play was when I was a freshman at Gannon, it was called “Moonchildren”. It was a lot of fun because I was acting with upper classmen that had already been established. I remember my character was a rookie cop named Effing and it was ironic because here I was playing a rookie cop and at that time I was a rookie actor, it was kind of funny.”
WHAT WAS THE WORST PLAY YOU WERE IN?
“The worst play I was in would have to be “Suddenly Last Summer”. The cast was good together but the plot was all over the place. Tennessee Williams is a very dry and boring playwright so I don’t know what I was getting myself into. I was still new at the theatre thing so I went for it. It wasn’t until later on that I found out that my character was not very memorable and the play just dragged on and on. To add insult to injury only 3 people came to see that show. I have a few best plays that I remember but the one that sticks out is “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. I could do that play over and over and never get tired of it. It was fun playing a loony. The cast was outstanding to work with and everybody was having a great time. The Production value was superb from the light show to the electrical box catching on fire at the end. Everything just fell into place and on top of all that, it was the first time ALL an Act sold out.”
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PLAY?
“My favorite play that I was cast in is kind of tough because I have a few favorite plays that I have enjoyed. One of my favorites is “Run for your Wife”. I enjoyed playing the character of Stanley Gardner. The show is a laugh riot from start to finish. Working with Dave Mitchell and Larry Lewis is a lot of fun, I think all of us play well off each other. It is so well written that the audience just can’t stop laughing. Even we had a hard time from laughing as well and most of the cast had done that show dozens of times.
One particular bad play I was in was called “a Mountain Tail”. I was still at Gannon at the time and I hadn’t done that many shows so I decided to audition for it. Little did I know that it was going to turn out to be a bad. It wasn’t THE worst play but it was up there. I had to play a young priest, that wasn’t bad. What was bad was the dark theme of the show. It was so heavy. It was very depressing. Not only that but the entire cast was on stage the entire time just watching the show, watching what was going on as if we were audience members. And we had to stay in character. It wasn’t a very memorable one.”
IS THERE A CHARACTER YOU WOULD LOVE TO PLAY?
“I would love to play the role of a villain or bad guy. I haven’t had the opportunity to delve into that type of character. I know that that would be a challenge for sure. It would be exciting because it’s very different from the characters that I currently perform now.”
WAS THERE A CHARACTER THAT YOU FELT YOU COULD RELATE TO?
“The only character from a show that I might have related to is the character of “Buddy” from a play called “A Distance from Calcutta”. He was kind of misunderstood and quiet. He was not very complicated. He was trying to find his place in the world and be accepted and sometimes I think about that especially when I was in high school.”
WAS THERE A CHARACTER YOU PLAYED THAT TOOK YOU OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE?
“The character that pushed me outside my comfort zone would have to be the same one from Distance from Calcutta. Buddy pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of. . It was a part that demanded a lot of emotional turmoil and I’m not sure where that came from. I had to memorize three large monologues. It was the first time I had a lead role. It was also the first time that I had to cry on stage. And the first time that I kissed a woman on stage. There were a lot of “firsts” in that production.”
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN ACTING?
“I have been acting for about 19 years . I started in 1994.”
WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIRECT?
“I have not directed and I have no plans on directing. I really like the acting aspect of theatre. There is enough pressure in learning a particular part that I wouldn’t want to worry about the whole picture that a director has to deal with. There is enough pressure in my real job.”
DO YOU PREFER COMEDY OR DRAMAS?
“You know, I go back and forth on comedy and drama. I believe that both are very well established genres to delve into. Comedy is very enjoyable because you get an immediate response from the audience and that is always worth it. I have done some dramas and let me tell you, they can be difficult and exhausting. Not that doing comedies are not tough, which they are, but something about dramas really can take a toll on you mentally and emotionally. Now I know that you don’t get that immediate satisfaction from the audience like you do in comedies but you still rope them in nevertheless.”
NOW, LAST QUESTION….DO YOU PREFER BOXERS OR BRIEFS?
“I didn’t realize that this question has anything to do with my acting hobby but I wear briefs unless I am in a show that requires me to take my pants off.”
Talking with David was fun. I found him quite charming. He is an exceptional actor and great guy. His talent on stage is awesome. He has a great sense of timing and his comedic talent is shared by few. Watch for him and you’ll see that I soon will not be alone in singing his praises.