Scheer-Thing: Comments by Sandman’s “bad guy”

The American Theatre of Actors concentrates on dark New York back stories for its summer cutting-edge series. THE SANDMAN, written by Lynn Navarra and directed by Ken Coughlin, tells the story of two beat cops, moonlighting in construction, caught up in a battle between a pub owner and the Irish mob… NYC circa 1979 … will be revived for a limited run, August 9 – 20 (Wed. – Sat. @ 8:00 pm and Sun. @ 3pm). Performances for this revival will be held at The John Cullum Theatre of the American Theatre of Actors. For reservations, call 212.581.3044. Tickets are $20 (cash at the door).

One of the stars of THE SANDMAN spent some time with us, discussing the production and the time period. Tony Scheer joins the cast as its villain – druglord Ian O’Rourke.

So here’s a commentary – some good words – from the bad man!

I play Ian O’Rourke. He’s the big bad guy in the play, the drug kingpin. The mere mention of his name invokes fear in those who know it. Getting into this guy’s head isn’t easy. I think about the character’s defining features, and verbally improvise scenarios/discussions he’s had – what makes him who he is and how he interacts with others. His life experience, his nature, his instincts. For Ian, the restrictions he places on himself for social acceptance are not strong. He does what he needs to in order to get things done. He’s kind of sadistic, but his actions are all motivated by his desire to stay on top (and he definitely is on top, which introduces another defining aspect of Ian – his ego). 

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I’m honored to be a part of this production. The fact that it’s in a historical space just adds to that. There are some big names associated with this place, and that is pretty cool. That being said, more than anything, I’m mostly just focused on giving the audience a performance worth coming out for. 

I don’t really think New York is better now than in the 70s. It’s just different. I feel, for the most part, that depends on human nature, which doesn’t change. If humans were capable of creating the rough time that was New York in the 70s, then there are still people with that same mentality. It’s not human nature that changes with time; it’s the methods used to follow it. 

The Sandman might make a better movie than a play. It’s an entertaining play, to be sure, and it succeeds in its goals. But the presentation of the subject matter, in all its darkness and depth, very well may be better represented on a screen, where visual technologies unavailable to the stage may be utilized. 

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