A Guy You Want Next to You When the S%#T Hits the Fan – Interview with ORANGE JULIUS’ Steve Froehlich

by moxielicious

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Steve Froehlich as Ol’ Boy. Photo by Daren Scott

In our final installation of interviews with cast members of ORANGE JULIUS, we’re thrilled to be talking with the actor who plays the dynamic role of Ol’ Boy, Steve Froehlich. This world premiere closes Sunday October 18, 2015 so don’t wait to get tickets!

You play a really fascinating character that’s different from the other characters in ORANGE JULIUS. Can you tell us about him?

My character’s name is Ol’ Boy. He is an Army Soldier in Vietnam, created out of the main character Nut’s imagination as she explores in dream-like sequences what it would be like to be present with her father Julius when he was fighting in Vietnam.  Basically all of my scenes are exploring this dynamic with Nut and Julius: she’s trying to be manly, I’m extreme craziness and Julius is full of fear. It’s a unique dynamic. Nut has a wonderful line where she states her “father made me watch Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now every single year Veterans’ Day when they all played on television,” and Ol’ Boy is an amalgamation of the most gonzo caricatures of those films. Ol’ Boy has seen the worst of it and has learned how to use those experiences to keep him—and everyone else around him—alive.  With his temper he can snap at any moment, but he is the type of guy you want next to you when the shit hits the fan.  Oh yeah, and this is an understatement, but he swears A LOT!  Every time he enters from backstage he’s swearing immediately, and sometimes it seems as if every other word spewing out of his mouth is an expletive. He is a tornado when he comes on stage.

How are you alike and different from him?

Just like Ol’ Boy, I am: Athletic, Committed, Focused, Funny, Intense, Loud and Loyal.

The famous acting teacher Uta Hagen taught (impressed upon her by Harold Clurman) that you must know yourself fully so you can bring all of yourself—or what is required of you—to that character.  So in this role I rely a lot on my natural physicality to bring Ol’ Boy to life.

Unlike Ol’ Boy, I am not: Extremely fearless, nor do I have an uncontrollable explosive temper.

When I was younger I swore profusely, having to do with always playing competitive team sports, but I worked hard after college when I entered the professional world to tone down that behavior.  Although, last week at coffee a friend of mine asked, “Why are you swearing so much? I’ve never heard you talk that way.” I guess Ol’ Boy has rubbed off on me a little bit; at least temporarily.  Thanks for writing this Basil! Haha

As a child we moved around every three years or so because of my father’s career in the U.S. Coast Guard, but that was the closest I came to the military. So, no matter how much I can prepare being a soldier, I’ve never been there.  During the “actor” talkback one Sunday after the show, multiple audience members expressed how they served during Vietnam, and they all had different and personal experiences to share.  I just hope that I could bring truth and believability to Ol’ Boy and not let those patrons down.  Thank you to everyone that has served our country! God Bless you and your families.

What research or preparation did you do to get into character?

When Casting Director Jennifer Berry called me about auditioning for the role, she specifically told me to think Robert Duvall during the napalm beach scene in “Apocalypse Now.”  I’ve seen all the movies mentioned in the script and knew immediately what they wanted. And it felt beyond great when Basil Kreimendahl (the writer) told me that my audition was exactly how Ol’ Boy was imagined when he was being written. That took me by surprise!

My senior year in high school I took a military history class and we watched “Full Metal Jacket.” That was my first exposure to understanding the Vietnam Conflict. For the next few years, when I wasn’t reading a textbook in high school or in college, I was reading a book on Vietnam, the Korean War and World War II.  I really enjoyed learning about those periods in history, so when I was offered this role, I had a lot of useful information floating around in my head to draw from in creating the back-story of Ol’ Boy. Plus, my father served 30+ years in the military, and so did his father, so growing up I was a military brat and I liked learning about the military and war.

One of my first acting teachers implored upon his students to watch a movie or TV show everyday as a way to learn, and for the past three years I daily watch just as much as I read.  War movies and documentaries are a genre I routinely consume, so I had a lot to draw from visually when bringing Ol’ Boy to life: both the drill sergeant’s barking orders and the 1000-yard stare quote from “Full Metal Jacket;” Tom Sizemore getting shot at and standing fully upright in “Saving Private Ryan.” Creating the physicality of Ol’ Boy and how he moves in the jungle guided my approach.

What moves you most in the script?

What excited me more than anything in the script was that this is a World Premiere and I get to originate the role of Ol’ Boy.  I wasn’t informed of this fact until after I was hired for the role.  This is a first for me.  Another first, which is a by-product of a doing a World Premiere, is that I get to work with the writer during the rehearsal period. Both of these firsts created a superb atmosphere for creating a character.

But in reference to the script, the Vietnam-era is something I’ve studied copiously so any script relating to that timeframe is always of interest to me.

From Ol’ Boy’s perspective, the camaraderie that’s required to stay alive in the Vietnam scenes is parallel to the relationships we all need in order to overcome the challenges and obstacles that real life brings.

Overall, the topic of family and relationships is poignant, especially trying to remember those that have passed on good terms and having to recreate those memories in our mind so we never forget them.  The mother France chastises her daughter Crimp for the way Crimp remembers her father: “sometimes, I think you must’ve grown up in a different house.” Crimp remembered her father in a sweet way, even if it wasn’t necessarily true from the mother’s perspective.  But sometimes that’s okay.

My mom grew up outside of Chicago and came from a huge family.  So, every winter/holiday season, I would see all of my aunts/uncles/cousins and I always cherished those times. We’d sometimes have up to 25 people all staying for a week in my grandmother’s tiny house! After both of those grandparents passed away when I was about 14, since then the family has never gotten together like that again; so I have to hold onto “my” memories to keep that wonderfully warm time alive. Therefore, someday when I have a family of my own, we can do it the same way.

Catch Froehlich and the rest of the cast of ORANGE JULIUS before they close this Sunday October 18th at 2pm. Tickets available at http://www.moxietheatre.com or call 858-598-7620

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