`Crabbed age' CAN hit it off with youth
The Calgary Herald
Friday, September 1, 1989
Byline: Martin Morrow
Crabbed Age and Youth," wrote Shakespeare, "cannot live together."
Not true in the case of Gale Gordon and Adam Furfaro. The 83-year-old Gordon is getting along splendidly with Furfaro, 25, who serves as
his new co- star in Stage West's remounting of Mass Appeal.
"This young man is absolutely superb," says the veteran character comedian of Lucy Show fame. "He has all the warmth and sincerity that
his character has to have." Furfaro returns the compliment. "This has been the most phenomenal experience," he notes, referring to the
knowledge Gordon has passed on to him during rehearsals. "It's like coming to school every day. Watching him, I just learn more and more."
Their back patting is undoubtedly sincere (the gruff Gordon doesn't mete out praise indiscriminately), but it's also part of the act. In the
play, Gordon portrays a pampered old priest who at first clashes with, and then comes to admire and respect, a radical young seminarian
That sense of a bond between the two characters, says Gordon, is what was missing from the original production, which played Stage
West last June and, before that, Edmonton's new Mayfair Dinner Theatre. Despite glowing reviews in both cities, he now admits he
wasn't pleased with the earlier version.
"The director of the other production didn't want any sympathy at all between the two (characters) and that's half of the story - the
understanding and closeness that builds up between these two men."
He's much happier with this revival, which just began a four- week run at the dinner theatre. He gives some of the credit to new director
Lynn Meyers, who overhauled the piece, and the rest to Furfaro, who replaces original co-star Kevin Hare.
Certainly, Furfaro has plenty of charm. A boyish young actor with puppy-dog eyes, he first delighted local audiences last year as Eugene
Jerome, Neil Simon's juvenile alter ego, in Theatre Calgary's production of Broadway Bound.
An Ontario native, Furfaro's acting career since graduating from the University of Windsor has been propelled by Simon's trilogy of
autobiographical plays. He portrayed Eugene in Brighton Beach Memoirs at Toronto's Variety Theatre, understudied the same role for the
Citadel's Broadway Bound in Edmonton and was tabbed to make his Stage West debut here last season, playing the part again in a
production of Biloxi Blues. The show never materialized, but instead the theatre's artistic director, Ron Ulrich, asked him to do Mass
Furfaro is thankful for the Simon series - "the whole trilogy was perfect timing for me, coming out of school" - but doesn't regret that the
Biloxi project fell through. "This is probably a much better experience than that would have been."
When not on stage, Furfaro has been profiting from the Toronto film boom. "In the last couple of years I've done small, small movie roles,"
he says, "one with Tom Cruise (Cocktail) and one with Diane Keaton (The Good Mother), which Leonard Nimoy directed." As well, before
coming here he completed a minor part in director John Boorman's new picture, Where the Heart Is.
"To work with these people is wonderful," he says, but adds the theatre still gives him a greater thrill.
"I love stage work. I will do film work because it pays the bills better than anything else you can do. In a day or two on a movie shoot you
can make what you would make in a month of theatre work, if not more. There's this phenomenal (amount of) money that they toss
around in film, but there's no huge sense of satisfaction. Maybe it's just a selfish thing, but I really love the immediate gratification of
hearing an audience laugh."
MASS APPEAL, at Stage West through Sept. 24.