Entertainment » Theatre

Hector Coris brings latest revue to Manhattan

by Kevin Scott Hall
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Nov 6, 2008

As a co-founder and associate art director of Opening Doors Theater Company, Hector Coris is in the process of planning the three productions for the coming year. He fields daily questions, does publicity and plans events for the Manhattan Association of Cabaret and Clubs for which he is a board member. Coris is a marketing associate at Second Stage Theater and does graphics arts jobs on the side. And he is back on stage this month in New York with his third revue "What's the Point?"

Welcome to a day in the life of Coris, 37, who seems to be single-handedly keeping the city's small clubs afloat.

He's in the habit of saying things like "Next month I'll be freed up." This month never seems to come.

"I have an inherent need to please people," Coris told EDGE in a recent interview. "I will go the extra mile and I'm a sucker for performing. If someone wants me in a show, I usually say yes."

Born and raised in Richmond Hill, Queens, Coris described himself as "the non-existent, chubby, Mama's-boy kid" who was neither outgoing nor adventurous.

He began to study film at Queens College, but Coris eventually settled on theater with a focus on improv. From there, he did mostly community theatre until Rick Crom cast him in his "Our Life and Times Revue" in 1997.

"That was two years of pure bliss," Coris said as he cited Crom as a major influence on him as a songwriter and for instilling in him a love for the revue art form. "This was not only my first exposure to New York City cabaret but the first time I had worked with an original songwriter."

Coris became hooked on the process of getting a new song and rehearsing it the same day.

"The immediacy of that fed into my training in improv and with a revue you get to play ten or twelve characters per show," he said.

His current show, "What's the Point?," is his third satirical revue and his first with composer Alan Cancelino. It follows "Not Me" and "What's Your Problem?," both of which Coris wrote with composer Paul L. Johnson. MAC nominated the latter for a couple of its awards in 2006. And "What's Your Problem?" ultimately won three Fresh Fruit Festival Awards and two Montr?al Harvest Festival Awards.

"One of the problems I have with gay theater in New York is that it’s all naked-boy-based. Buff guys without shirts [are] nice to look at, but it’s not doing anything for the arts, it’s doing something for the producer’s pocke

"I definitely have a skewed, almost negative view of the world," Coris laughed. "When people get into serious conversations, I'm the first one to crack a joke."

"What's the Point?," which co-stars Eadie Scott and Patrick Garrigan, features songs about multitasking cell phones, a Manhattan woman's plight of trying to find a straight man, a power-ballad send-up of "American Idol" and then . . . "Dirty Sanchez," perhaps a song that would not have been done in those mid-century nightclubs. Coris also seeks to recreate the kind of venues Comden and Green, Jules Styne, Phyllis Newman and others made popular in the 1950s and 1960s.

"They would write songs based on what was happening at the time, songs about anything with no real through line," he said.

While Coris is trying to become more politically aware-a new song in the show is called "I Hope You're Happy Now" sung by Hillary Clinton, and which may have to be tweaked depending on the outcome of the election-he admits his songs about relationships have been more successful.

A song called 'Lowering My Standards' (from "What's Your Problem?") has been sent all over the country. And there is no shortage of gay material in Coris' shows. He has been known to skewer marriage for same-sex couples, Fleet Week and "Brokeback Mountain."

"One of the problems I have with gay theater in New York is that it's all naked-boy-based," Coris explained. "Buff guys without shirts [are] nice to look at, but it's not doing anything for the arts, it's doing something for the producer's pocket. I like to do a show with good gay content."

In the meantime, Coris will continue to criss-cross the city's small stages. He hopes to write a longer off-Broadway show some day.

"Something like those Howard Crabtree shows, 'When Pigs Fly' and 'Whoop-te-Doo,'" Coris mused.

And while he continues to wear all of his showbiz hats, his love of performing will always come first.

"I love to entertain," Coris said with a shrug of his shoulders.

"What's the Point?" will be at the Laurie Beechman Theatre (407 W. 42nd St.) on Nov. 14 and 21 at 7 p.m. Log onto www.wtpoint.com for more information.

Kevin Scott Hall is the author of Off the Charts! (2010, iUniverse) and the memoir, A Quarter Inch from My Heart (2014, Wisdom Moon).


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