Patrick Boll is a powerful
Bolingbroke.  His striking
height, lithe form and
piercing eyes add to the
portrait of this highly
ambitious, politically
adept usurper of the
throne.  His Bolingbroke is
a man of action, not
The Star Ledger
Boll’s steely usurper
Bolingbroke is a figure
of regal authority,
acted with heroic
presence and a focused
measure of calculating
New Jersey
Actor Tackling Shakespeare
Boll opens in 'Richard II'
at Shakespeare Festival at Drew University

By Jim Hague

   Patrick Boll has enjoyed an interesting career as an actor. He's portrayed
Heather Locklear's love interest on the ABC sitcom "Spin City." He spent time on
Broadway with Brian Dennehy in "Death of a Salesman," and just recently had a
role in the Broadway production of "Twentieth Century" starring Alec Baldwin and
Anne Heche.

   Boll also had a recent important role - as one of the narrators for the
re-enactment of the famed Alexander Hamilton - Arron Burr duel during the
bicentennial commemoration in Weehawken, NJ last month.

   But none of Boll's acting roles can compare to the one he is currently
tackling, doing Shakespeare's famed "Richard II" for the Shakespeare Theatre of
New Jersey (formerly known as the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival) at Drew
University. In its 41st season, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is the
longest running Shakespeare theater company on the East Coast.

   "It's been a while since I've done Shakespeare," said Boll.  "It's been about
seven years or  so, since I did 'King Lear' with the Whole Theater in Montclair
(run by Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis). There's almost an element where
you're speaking a foreign language when you do Shakespeare. The language is so
rich and so different. It's a different challenge, but it's a great challenge."

   Boll grew up in Michigan in a Detroit suburb and caught the acting bug when
he was in high school. He first went to Michigan State University to "make a go
of it in the business world," but found out that he craved the stage more than
the almighty dollar.

   "I really wanted to do theater, so I went to NYU to study acting," Boll said.

   In the late 1980s, after trying to break into acting while waiting tables and
doing odd jobs, Boll received a break as a non-Equity actor to do summer theater
work in Williamstown, Mass.

   "My first professional acting job was in a play called 'Death Takes a
Holiday,' in Williamstown, where I got to meet and work with Christopher Reeve,
Blythe Danner and Maria Tucci," Boll said.  "I've known Gwyneth Paltrow (Danner's
daughter) since she was a teenager. I was able to work there a couple of years.  
It was an amazing experience."

   Boll also traveled wherever the work was.

   "I worked in Utah, Alabama and Texas," Boll said. "Probably my most memorable
job was as a ringmaster for Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus in Dallas. I
never worked with baboons before."

 Better than baboons

   But the work as a ringmaster led to better acting roles, like supporting
roles in a handful of "Law and Order" episodes and roles in two feature films,
"Love Walks In," starring Denis Leary, and "Somewhere in the City."

   However, with all the roles in television and movies that Boll has enjoyed,
his true love is theater.

   "It's what I've always wanted to do most," Boll said.

   But doing Shakespeare isn't just theater. It's elite theater, the crème de la

   "I can't lie," Boll said. "It's a lot of work. It's an incredible challenge.
It's not just about remembering the lines, but it's interpreting the play. It's
fascinating to pull the lines apart, realize what he's trying to say in those
words. It's an interesting story, a fascinating part of history, great history."

   The play is set in England in 1398, in the court of Richard II. It remains
one of Shakespeare's most rarely performed works. It is the first installment in
Shakespeare's royal trilogy about the fall of the Plantagenet Dynasty and the
rise of the House of Lancaster. Richard's detachment from the common people,
combined with his flagrant spending habits, shady funding sources, reliance on
ill-chosen counselors and penchant for war, ultimately leads to his epic downfall.

   "It's totally fun in a different way," explains Boll, who portrays Henry
Bolingbroke in the play (a man who later in life becomes King Henry IV). "Every
actor dreams of doing Shakespeare. It's a great opportunity for me."

   Boll also likes the fact that he's commuting to Madison for a change and
doesn't have to handle the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.

   "It's been a wonderful experience," said Boll. "This is a fantastic theater,
a great facility that is very intimate.  Madison is a beautiful little town.  It
has wonderful people.  I've really enjoyed this."

   After Boll's performance with "Richard II" is completed at the end of the
month, he will focus his attentions on an original musical that he has written,
called "Dream Street," using the music of popular folk singer John Gorka.

   "It's about an actor from New York who goes to Los Angeles to shoot a
television show," Boll said. "And it becomes a total story of mayhem. I call it a
story of a man on the verge of keeping it all together. The play takes place in a
three-hour span in one day. I just want to see where it goes."

   "Richard II" begins its run at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey Tuesday
and runs through Aug. 29.

©The Hudson Reporter 2004
Boll, looking a good deal like
John Kerry (at least in the era
before the candidate’s hair
turned gray),  has a stunning
stage presence.  He is
outstanding... playing
Bolingbroke as an honorable man,
he makes an audience rest  
easier about England’s future.