Many years ago, in another lifetime and place, I was writing an entertainment column for NightLife Magazine in West Hollywood, California. I was assigned to review a new movie called Parting Glances starring Steve Buscemi and a handsome Hollywood up-and-coming actor named Richard Ganoung. It was the late ’80s and the subject matter was AIDS. The movie was groundbreaking and the performance by that young actor was wonderfully charming and heartbreaking.
During my research for the review, I discovered that Richard was from Madison. I never got the chance to meet or interview him and tell him how much his performance touched me and hundreds of other moviegoers. Ten years or so later, he returned to the silver screen in Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss, co-starring with Sean Hayes. Another opportunity missed to meet and interview this handsome and talented Madisonian.
Fast-forward to December 2013 and to the lobby of Sundance Cinemas on Madison’s west side, where I’m finally getting my long- awaited interview with the man who is now my friend and colleague in the Madison theater community.
MICHAEL: When did you leave Madison for New York?
RICHARD: I graduated from the UW in 1981 and left in 1983. I was working with Circle In the Square when I got cast in Parting Glances in 1987, which got me to Los Angeles. I returned to Madison on Nov. 7, 1992, with my partner of 33 years, Norm Eberhardt.
MICHAEL: It’s so odd that we knew so many of the same people and yet never worked together until recently. I left for LA in 1983 and came back in 2001.
RICHARD: And our first gig together was co-hosting the theater award presentation for AIDS Network of Madison’s Red Ribbon Affair in 2011. That was my first time ever doing stand-up, and you turned me into a comedy whore that evening. What a rush it was to ad-lib with you and get all those laughs. It’s a drug, really.
MICHAEL: You’ve done several projects that have taken you out of your comfort zone since returning to Madison—other than being my stand-up comedy partner.
RICHARD: That’s right. I did my first musical-theater performance in BIG for First Stage Theater in Milwaukee in 2012. I had never been in a musical and never thought I would ever be singing and dancing onstage during my career in the theater. It turned out to be one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, things I’ve done so far. Also, I was thrilled to be in the Madison premiere of 8: The Gay Marriage Play at the Bartell Theater, directed by…who was it? Michael Bruno? (laughs)
MICHAEL: Your performances in StageQ’s production of The Dying Gaul and your role in the movie Scrooge & Marley are such brilliant examples of your versatility as an actor. Is it getting easier or harder becoming an actor “of a certain age?”
RICHARD: (laughs) I like the fact that I can now audition for the “Anthony Hopkins” roles. When I look in the mirror I still see the 35-year-old Richard. That was my ideal age. Inside, I’m still that age.
MICHAEL: So what’s on the theater horizon for you now, Richard?
RICHARD: I’ve got an upcoming staged reading of a trilogy about Edwin Booth in New York and I’m continuing my relationship with Forward Theater Company on their advisory company. (Richard is also a founding member of Forward Theater.)
MICHAEL: Madison is so very lucky to have you here enriching our community and bringing professional theater to our audiences. And I’m lucky that our paths have finally merged, back home in Madison.