Thoughts & Musings

Providence Actor Plays Disgraced CEO in Probing Drama

"What I like about theatre is its a great equalizer. Whatever else we do in our lives, when we get on stage we are all equal. We all help each other."

by Joe Seigel, EDGE Providence
  • 22nd October 201422/10/14
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Veteran actor Tom Roberts plays disgraced CEO Ken Lay in the scathing satire, “Enron”, currently at 2nd Story Theatre through November 2.

In 2001, the Houston energy corporation Enron went bankrupt. Many executives at Enron were indicted for a variety of charges and were later sentenced to prison. Enron’s auditor, Arthur Andersen, was found guilty in a United States District Court of illegally destroying documents relevant to the SEC investigation which voided its license to audit public companies, effectively closing the business.

In the play, which premiered in London in 2009 before a Broadway run the following year, Lucy Prebble has crafted an examination of corporate greed run amok.

The cast also features Ara Boghigian, Ed Shea, Tanya Anderson, Michael Zola, and Brendan Macera and Tania Montenegro.

“It’s been a rewarding challenge to play a figure like Ken Lay,” Roberts told EDGE. “It has a lot of complex stagecraft and as an actor we have to work with all that mechanical technical stuff.”

Roberts calls Enron “a great play” and “wonderfully written.” He believes Lay is “a tragic figure” comparable to King Lear or Oedipus.

“He’s someone who built something and through his own folly, it collapsed and he collapsed with it,” Roberts noted.

The Providence native has been acting for most of his life. He worked at Theatre by the Sea in Matunuck, where he met some acclaimed actors.

“I worked in a play, the star of which was Dorothy Lamour who had been a big star in the ’40s, Roberts recalled. “It was also the first play for a young Alan Alda, who played the oldest brother in the family and I played the youngest brother.”

“They were really professional and very gracious,” Roberts continued.

Roberts has been a core member of 2nd Story’s acting company. He has appeared in “August: Osage County” and “The Little Foxes.” He savors the creative process and collaborating with his fellow actors.

“I enjoy the rehearsal process and building a character, understanding who I am and figuring out the best way to convey who I am to an audience,” Roberts said. “What I like about theatre is its a great equalizer. Whatever else we do in our lives, when we get on stage we are all equal. We all help each other.”

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