Five Question with STL actor Kent Coffel!
Kent Coffel is a full time Systems Architect at Maritz and a part time actor/singer. Most recently he’s appeared in All is Calm at Mustard Seed and Zorba the Greek at New Line Theater. Next up for him: Sweet Smell of Success at New Line in June.
Q: What was your first experience in theatre?
My very first show was my Junior year of high school. In my tiny little town, the high school did one show a year, put on by the Junior class as a fund raiser. I was in a farce called “See How They Run” (done not too long ago by Theater Guild of Webster Groves). After that, fast forward almost 30 years to 2003. My church choir accompanist (Sue Goldford) talked me into auditioning for a show she was playing for. It turned out to be “Titanic” at Spotlight – a terrific show that I was lucky enough just to stumble into. That’s where I caught the acting bug. Thanks, Sue!
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
Practically, when I got my first lead role in a non-musical I was freaking out a bit over the number of lines I’d have to memorize. Pat Wheatley told me that all I had to do was go through all my lines every day and I’d be fine. He was right. Artistically, Scott Miller has helped me learn to be funny by playing it straight (never for laughs) and to make sure my character appears fearless no matter how scared I am inside.
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.
So many to choose from from split pants to the wheel falling off Tevye’s wagon! In “Joseph” at FMT, during the big Elvis/Pharaoh number a cable holding up a huge sphinx head broke and the thing crashed to the floor just inches from several actors. But we grabbed it and kept if from falling over and the show went right on. Probably the worst was when the entire band lost power in the middle of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels just as we were starting a critical song. A Capella time!
Q: What is your dream role/show?
I’ve been lucky enough to play some terrific roles. Probably Max in The Producers, Lawrence in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Zorba (in Zorba) have been my favorites. At this point in my life, I’d love a chance to play Tevye in Fiddler.
Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?
I honestly don’t get a chance to watch a lot of TV. When I do it’s usually a quick episode of Key and Peele, “Grace and Frankie” or reruns of “How I Met Your Mother”.
Thank you Kent!! Can’t wait to see Sweet Smell at New Line- what a fantastic show!
Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.
See her work here.