Aspen’s Ed Foran makes his return to Chicago
ASPEN When Ed Forans late father Thomas would go into his dramatic mode, reciting Shakespeare and G.K. Chesterton, young Ed would roll his eyes: Oh, give me a break.But the elder Foran was a trial attorney as the U.S. attorney for the Chicago area in 1968 he prosecuted the Chicago 7 trial following the demonstrations at the 68 Democratic Convention and was using theater technique to polish his courtroom skills.All he ever talked about as a trial lawyer was, its all an act, its a dance, said Ed Foran. My father treated it like theater, would practice his closing arguments in front of us kids. He believed, in order to represent your clients you had to simplify the facts, tell a story. He loved theater and opera; he was truly a Renaissance man.For much of his adult life, Ed had little use for his fathers skills, either the lawyerly or the theatrical. Living for 14 years in Alaska, mostly in the Fairbanks area, he made his living as a carpenter, a commercial fisherman, and racing sled dogs, including a few appearances in the Iditarod. For 10 of those years, said Foran, he lived the traditional cabin hippie lifestyle, which only included a small dabbling in the arts playing old-timey banjo with his wife, Barbara, in a band, Slop Bucket, that he remembers as just awful.Over the years, however, Foran has learned to appreciate fully the theater arts. He is currently featured as Amos Hart, the simple but honest car mechanic in Aspen Community Theatres production of the musical, Chicago. The production earned raves in its opening weekend, and continues its run tonight through Sunday.Foran might wish now that he had paid closer attention to his fathers recitations. The role of Amos is his first starring role, after playing small characters and appearing as chorus member in a handful of ACT musicals since making his debut in 2002s My Fair Lady. Foran said the company he is keeping can be intimidating: His Chicago co-stars Jennica Lundin, Natalie Dulaney and Franz Alderfer are all formally trained in voice and acting, while Foran has been learning on the fly, taking local stage and singing classes when he can.Thats scary. And this is probably the strongest cast of any ACT show Ive been involved with. No weak links, said the 52-year-old Aspenite, a real estate broker with Mason & Morse and a past president of the Aspen Board of Realtors. I guess I feel comfortable. And a lot of that is feeling supported by these people I look up to, all the stars of this community. Theyve all been nothing but supportive, encouraging. And theyve challenged me, vocally. But nobodys ever looked at me like the new guy, wanting me to fail.Much of that respect surely comes from Forans relatively late-in-life dedication to the craft. He has done workshops with the local organizations the Hudson Reed Ensemble and Theater Masters. Three years ago, he auditioned for, and landed, his first and only paying gig as a Realtor in a public service commercial for the National Association of Realtors, which aired in prime time for two years. And Foran has paid his dues with ACT, appearing in seven of the groups last eight musicals. He has moved from the chorus in My Fair Lady and Mame to the Nazi, Herr Zeller, in The Sound of Music, to a bottle dancer and innkeeper in Fiddler on the Roof. Last year, in She Loves Me, he played a minor character, a waiter, but the role came with his first solo singing part.All the while, Foran has had his sights set on something bigger. He had great hopes of getting the role of Georg Von Trapp, the father figure in The Sound of Music, or of Tevye, the protagonist in Fiddler on the Roof. He didnt get either role, and when he auditioned this year for Chicago, the satire of celebrity criminals set in 1920s Chicago, he went in simply hoping for a part. Still, he dove into the role of Amos Hart, practicing the signature song, Mr. Cellophane. When he got the call from director/choreographer Marisa Post, informing him he had earned the part, Foran was thrilled. He then got down to the work of finding his way into the character.Foran finds Amos to be a unique personality in Chicago. While the murderesses/actors Velma Kelly (Dulaney) and Roxie Hart (Lundin) spar for a place in the spotlight with their dancing-and-singing attorney Billy Flynn (Franz Alderfer) also fighting for attention Amos is humble and naive. And most importantly to Foran, sincere.His primary characteristic that resonates with me is his sincerity, he said. Marisa mentioned when we were doing auditions: Be sincere. That went bingo! with me. This character is a garage mechanic, probably an eighth grade education, a working stiff. Im from Chicago, too, but I have nothing in common with him. Except the things all people share: loneliness, the love for a woman thats almost an obsession. And the biggest aspect that he doesnt fell like hes noticed or appreciated. There are times in my life Ive felt that way, so its easy to go there.It would have been especially easy for people to ignore Foran in his stage debut. He had long thought of acting and singing, but had taken no steps toward the theater. The closest he came was bringing Katie, the older of his two daughters, to ballet classes. Forans was a familiar face outside the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet studio when Katie was rehearsing for Romeo and Juliet.Three nights before they were going to open, Tom Mossbrucker [the artistic director of the ballet company] said they needed a Prince of Verona, recalled Foran. I had never done anything onstage at all. There were scenes where I had to break up fights between the Capulets and Montagues but it was a non-dancing, non-speaking, non-singing, pure character role.The experience hooked Foran. Two years after Romeo and Juliet, he and Katie auditioned together for My Fair Lady, and both earned parts in the chorus. The following year, they did Mame together. Katie has since left the stage; she dropped ballet due to an injury, and is now focused on her studies at Columbia Law School. Dad, however, has little intention of curtailing his hobby in the theater.I guess Im feeling like Im not a rookie anymore, he said. I wouldnt have gotten cast in this part, or even had some of the minor roles in the last few years, if the directors didnt think I had an aptitude for it. ACT is such a high level of talent; theyre not going to cast me just because they like me, or because theyre firstname.lastname@example.org
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This summer the Aspen Music Festival is emphasizing this discovery track more than before, as the 2021 season marks the launch of its initiative to spotlight diverse composers who identify as AMELIA (African-American, Middle Eastern, Latin, Indigenous, and Asian).