It’s always gratifying for a father when his son follows him into the family business, but in the case of the Foxworths, whose family business is the theater, it means they don’t get to connect all that often.
Robert Foxworth — the veteran actor who’ll be remembered for TV’s “Falcon Crest” — and his son Bo each perform on stage for a living. And this month, they’re working just a few miles apart — Robert enacting the malevolent king, Claudius, in South Coast Repertory’s “Hamlet” and Bo tearing up the stage at the Laguna Playhouse in the world premiere of “The Verdi Girls.”
I had a chat with the younger Foxworth last Saturday and, at that time, neither father nor son had seen the other’s performance since the two plays are running simultaneously. Some scheduling quirks have since allowed each to catch the other in action before the final curtains.
Brendan Bogard Foxworth, who shortened his professional name to Bo, is one of the primary reasons for seeing “The Verdi Girls.” His ultra-competitive character, Pete, is a hilarious exaggeration of type A (or “AA,” as our review put it) alpha males we’ve all known. And he’s getting a tremendous kick out of the experience.
“The show is surprisingly difficult,” Foxworth said. “The playwright, Bernard Farrell, was here through rehearsals and we were making changes all through preview week.”
For instance, the first-act closing gag, as Foxworth drops the coveted trophy off the balcony when the old lady toots her horn, was originally written as a gunshot sound effect, when the bellhop drops his pistol. The degree of laughter is raised considerably by the new version.
“This is one of the best casts I’ve ever worked with,” he declared. “We’ve really bonded during the show.”
Of the difference between the tasks he and his father are performing, he quotes his director, Andrew Barnicle: “‘Hamlet’ is easy. ‘The Verdi Girls’ is hard.”
Foxworth is well acquainted with both forms of theater. Last year he took on the role of the melancholy Dane in a production of “Hamlet” for Shakespeare Orange County in Garden Grove.
“It was one of the best theater experiences I’ve ever had,” he said.
While Bo’s talent may be inherited, his dad wasn’t a constant presence in his life as a youngster, since the elder Foxworth and his wife were divorced and Bo grew up with his mother. As a child, he could catch his father on the tube each week on “Falcon Crest” through much of the 1980s.
That was enough to spur Bo toward acting, and he capped a series of school plays with his first professional show at 18 and becoming an Equity professional at 21. The Foxworths’ paths have crossed occasionally. They teamed up for a Baltimore production of “Galileo” and an episode of “Law and Order SVU,” but for the most part their careers have followed separate paths.
“We’re still very close, though,” Bo noted. “He’s been an amazing inspiration for me. I only hope to be a tenth of the actor he is.”
During rehearsals for the two plays — which opened on the same night, June 2 — father and son would run lines together. This week, with no Sunday evening performance of “Verdi Girls,” Bo finally caught a performance of “Hamlet,” while Robert dropped in for a Thursday matinee of “Verdi Girls” at the playhouse.
As for the future, Bo and his acupuncturist wife, who now live in Los Angeles, will be heading to New York where her relatives live. But professionally, the Foxworths are looking for a project to share. “We want to work together again,” Bo said.
reviews theater for Coastline Pilot.