Robert Petkoff is an award winning actor who recently completed the run of "Follies" at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, playing the role of "Buddy." Robert's theatrical credits include Broadway's "Ragtime," "Spamalot," "Fiddler on the Roof," and "Epic Proportions." The West End production of "The Royal Family" (with Dame Judi Dench), and Off-Broadway's "Happiness," "More Stately Mansions," and "The Blue Flower." Regionally and on tour, Robert has entertained audiences in "Spamalot," "Tantalus," "Importance of Being Earnest" (with Lynn Redgrave), "Sunday in the Park With George" (After Dark Award), "Hamlet," "Romeo and Juliet" (Jeff Award Nominee), "Troilus and Cressida," and "Complete Female Stage Beauty" (Robby Award).
Robert has also shined in film and television's "Milk & Money," "Loverboy," "Game Day," "Chappelle's Show," "The Good Wife," "Law & Order," "Law & Order: SVU," "Hack," "Quantum Leap," "Married With Children," "Mona," and "Liberace."
Currently, Robert can be seen delighting audiences in Roundabout Theatre Company's Tony Award Winning revival of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" as "Lord Evelyn Oakleigh" opposite Tony Award Winner Sutton Foster (who departs March 11, but the amazingly talented Stephanie J. Block returns to "Anything Goes" on March 15) at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in New York City (124 West 43rd Street, between Broadway & 6th Avenue). Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I initially got interested in acting in High School because a girl I had a crush on was into theatre. I thought if I auditioned I could get closer to her. Young men being harder to come by in High School Theatre, I ended up getting cast in all the shows that year and she got cast in none. Didn't get the girl, but fell in love with telling stories on stage. I also had a teacher, Dan Martinkus, who inspired me to look at theatre as more than just fun and games.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I have to say I have been very fortunate to have worked with a lot of actors I have really admired. I have missed out on a couple of chances to work with some directors who I think are great: Jack O'Brien and Daniel Sullivan are two that come to mind right away. I think it would be exciting to work with them.
3. What attracted you to "Anything Goes"? I think what attracted me to "Anything Goes" is that it is a terrific production of a good old-fashioned, classic Broadway musical. With Cole Porter's phenomenal songs that stay with you when you leave the theater. Not to mention the delightful performances or the eight minute long tap dance finale of the first act. It is impossible not to cheer at the end of the title song.
4. What do you identify most with your character "Lord Evelyn Oakleigh"? What I most identify with in the character of "Lord Evelyn" is that his enthusiasm sometimes comes before his understanding. In the play it leads to comical confusion. In my own life it usually leads to embarrassment...
5. What has been the best part about performing with this cast every night? I think the best part of performing with this cast every night it that we are all still having fun doing this show. I am also spoiled getting to play and dance with Sutton every night. She is doing a lot of the heavy lifting in this show and yet she is always alive and playful.
6. What do you like about taking over a role as opposed to originating one? Taking over a role as opposed to originating one is tricky. Especially following someone as superb as Adam Godley was in the role. A lot of the choices have been made regarding what the character wants and how he is going to get it. You have to step in and find a way of discovering how to marry those choices with your own. There is a freedom to make your own choices, but a bit of an obligation not to stray too far from the playground already established.
7. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? I think my favorite part of rehearsal is early on when you are just discovering who the character is and you can try so many different ideas out. I love feeling the freedom to make horrible mistakes and terrible choices. My great flaw is trying to be "right" so to let go of that and dare to make a fool of myself can lead to very happy accidents. I'm ridiculously shy about being heard singing so when practicing on my own I lock myself in the bathroom in my apartment and shut the windows. It is the room that is the most soundproof so I am less self-conscious. Self-consciousness is the enemy of creativity.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? What I've learned about myself from being a performer is that I need to listen in life as much as I listen on stage.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice I've ever received in regards to acting was repeated over and over during Spamalot by Mike Nichols who was quoting Jack O'Brien: "You aren't funny, the material is funny." Just act the scene as honestly as possible without a lot of decoration and the comedy or drama will take care of itself. The best advice I've ever received in life was: "Just kiss her."
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? If I could dream about anyone while I sleep it would probably be my mom. I lost her a few years ago and it would be nice to talk with her again.
11. Favorite way to spend your day off? I'm an avid photographer so, if I ever get a day off again it would be nice to set up a shoot. I do a lot of voice work and so I rarely get a genuine day off.
12. Boxers or Briefs? Actually, Boxer Briefs.
14. Superman or Wonder Woman? Without a doubt, Wonder Woman. Maybe I should go back to that question about dreams again...