New York actor Peter Galipeau is a long way from Yonkers as he takes
one of the leads in the Shawnee State University production of DRACULA.
Galipeau portrays madman Renfield in the production while working with
SSU students to help them improve their acting
"It's very rewarding to work with the students," said Galipeau. "I
take the approach to try and instill in them the simplicity of life.
That you don't always have to be this huge, over the top
incredible character. That you can be very simple in what you do and
with simplicity comes realism. Once you can get the student to understand
simplicity, they tend to ba a lot more real, a lot more human. The
hardest part of acting is making it real. The secret is to lose your
own identity and have the audience see you as the character you are
Originally from Bedford, MA, a little Colonial town outside of Boston,
Galipeau studied opera for two years then attended the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst, where he graduated Cum Laude with a B.A.
in Theater with a concentration in Directing.
" I started school originally thinking that singing was all I
wanted to do. After trying it for a couple of years I realized my happiness
lay in just being on stage not necessarily singing.
So that's when I transferred to University of MA."
Galipeau was having trouble believing in himself as an actor after
graduation from college so he took his first job as a Residential Professional
for two years at a college in New Hampshire. Some of the students knew
how much he wanted to act so they told him about an audition that was
being held for "Evita" which was to be given at the Palace
Theater in Manchester. Galipeau auditioned and got a part.
"The Palace Theater is a beautiful 900 seat vaudeville house,'
said Galipeau, "I loved acting there. I saw other actors who had
Guest Artist contracts, like I have now, and I decided I wanted to
do that too. I heard there was summer work doing this in the White
Mountains, so I drove up there and I told myself, if I get the job
I'm going to quit my job and just pursue acting. Well, I got the job
for the summer so I resigned my job as a Residential Professional the
next day and I have been doing this for the last seven years."
Galipeau moved to New York City two years ago and lived in Manhattan
for six months. He then moved to a town called Bronxville, which is
in the community of Yonkers and commutes to
New York City by train in twenty minutes.
"I have trees and grass and can have pets in Bronxville," said
Galipeau. "New York is a great city, but I would rather live
on the outskirts of it, besides you don't always work. On broadway
the casting is done 10 or 12 times a month, but the actors line up
at 5:00 in the morning, waiting to try out for the part. The last cattle
call I was on was RAGTIME and there were 500 signed
up on the chorus sheet and you had about 45 seconds to show your talent.
Out of the 500 people there may be two roles cast."
"I now have an agent in New York, which is a far better way to
approach the business. People who see you from an agents call are far
more open to see you and to take the time to listen to
Galipeau has done a lot of Musical Theater, such as H.M.S. Pinafore
and Little Shop of Horrors. He has also appeared in many plays such
as To Kill a Mockingbird, A Funny Thing Happened at the Forum, Much
Ado About Nothing etc. and has done Commercials.
"Every role you do is extra©ordinarily different," said
Galipeau "I play mostly character parts, the unusual people who
creep up on you and have small roles that are very intense. The role
Renfield is a very complex role, he's the guy in Dracula who eats bugs
and started out insane, It's a challenge to create such a character.
When I first started acting I wanted to be six feet tall, have blond
hair and blue eyes and get romantic lead parts. But I realize now that
character actors work far more than romantic leads do because you are
versatile, you can play a large span of roles and never have to worry
being socked into one category. I work far more that the beautiful
The way Galipeau ended up in Portsmouth at SSU was an indication of
the ways of show business. When he first moved to New York and was
a struggling actor, he read an ad in a professional audition magazine
called BACK STAGE. Vivian Mason, was auditioning actors for a play
called GOD'S COUNTRY which she was producing at that time. Galipeau
sent her a head shot and resume and she didn't call.
"Later I called her at the University in Chicago where she was
casting," said Galipeau," and told her I was going to be
in Chicago the next day and could I audition for a part. She said yes,
so I had to rush to the bus depot for a ticket so I could be there
the next morning. She didn't give me the role, and that was OK, because
that's show biz, but you never know when the
contacts you make are going to pay off." "Two years later
this past July, she called me and asked if I was available to do the
role of Renfield in Dracula. I was available so I said I would do it.
Vivian Mason is now a SSU professor and the director of Dracula. So
here I am in the lovely city of Portsmouth, Ohio. To come to places
like Ohio is a great job. Working with the students, you feel good
about what you do."
Tickets are now on sale at the Vern Riffe Center's Mckinley Box Office
for the production of DRACULA, adapted for the stage by American playwright
Steven Dietz. This 1995 version of Bram Stoker's novel is fast paced
and cinematic in style, yet captures the gothic sensuality, romance
and horror of his original story.
DRACULA is suggested for high school ages and above due to mature
themes and situations, as well as staged blood and horror effects,
which may shock or frighten children. There is no
offensive language in the production.
Performances will be held Friday and Saturday evenings, October 30
and 31st at 8:00 p.m., in the Main Theater of the Vern Riffe Center
for the Arts. Ticket prices are $6.00 for students,
seniors and active©duty military personnel, $8:00 for adults.