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Louis Patane

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Switching careers midway through life may be difficult, but after 30 years in city government, Louis Patane decided to become an actor. "When I turned 50, I asked myself, 'What am I going to do for the next 50 years of my life?' " says Patane. "And I said, 'Take acting
classes.' "

An ensemble role in the 1997 Broadway revival of "A View From the Bridge" got him his Equity card, and his résumé includes numerous Off-Off-Broadway shows, plus TV, film, and industrial gigs. Last March found him Off-Off-Broadway as Antonio in the (re:) Directions Theatre Company production of Eric Overmyer's "Figaro/Figaro," an adaptation of Beaumarchais' "The Marriage of Figaro" and Ödön von Horváth's more recent "Figaro Gets a Divorce."

"It's like a mash-up of two very different plays with the same characters," says director Erin Smiley. When Patane saw the casting notice in Back Stage, he was frustrated that it "had only one date," he says, "and I was up in New Hampshire that weekend working on a student film." Fortunately, Smiley wanted to see more actors, so she scheduled an extra audition session. "I wound up coming back," Patane says, "and I had an email saying come Thursday night."

At the audition, Smiley's interest in Patane was immediate. "From the first, he was very gracious and definitely what I look for in an actor," she says, "because I always let an actor's personality weigh in as much as their talent and their read in the room." Impressed with his acting ability and drawn by his kind personality, Smiley brought him in for callbacks.

"In callbacks, he really clicked well with the young man who was reading for Pedrillo, his son-in-law in the play," the director says. "They were just delightfully funny together and just perfect." Auditioning was done in pairs, and Patane was surprised by how little the actors kept to themselves. "Usually people pair off, go off by themselves, and everybody's quiet," he says. "But it was a mass of people standing up, sitting down, talking out loud, and nobody was disturbed by the fact that someone standing 2 feet away from them was reading a whole different scene."

More recently, Patane was cast as Bill in From the Ground Up Theatre Company's production of "The Real American Dream," running Off-Off-Broadway Sept. 4–27, but after that he may work with Smiley on something else. "Lou's absolutely one of those actors I keep in my mental roster for when I'm looking at a piece or looking at directing something," says Smiley. "If there's a character that's similar in type and age, I know that I'll give him a call and say, 'Hey, can you come to callbacks?' "

For more on Patane, visit his page at the Screen Actors Guild's iActor website, www.sag.org/iactor-online-casting.

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