Columbus Makes Art Presents Ralph Scott on an Early Love of Comedy and the Theater
Columbus actor Ralph Scott, a graduate of Otterbein University’s theatre program and The Second City comedy club and improvisation school in Chicago, has established himself as one of central Ohio’s best-known actors over the past 20 years. Frequently seen on the CATCO stage in such acclaimed productions as The Final Table, The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and Ken Ludwieg’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, his acting portfolio includes numerous regional and national commercials, as well as roles in independent movies produced locally and throughout the Midwest.
Next month, Scott will perform the role of movie mogul Victor Fleming in CATCO’s upcoming production of Moonlight and Magnolias, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Gone With the Wind. He recently took time from acting and his role as Mr. Mom to his three children to discuss his acting career, how he got his start and the Columbus arts scene.
Sarah: Can you share details about your early acting career? How did you end up at The Second City in Chicago?
Ralph: After graduating from Otterbein University with a BFA in theater performance, I performed in Tecumseh! for two seasons playing Wasegoboah, Tecumseh’s best friend and brother-in-law, and, ultimately, Tecumseh. From there, I joined Art Reach touring theater. I then moved to Chicago with the goal of going through The Second City training center. All of my idols were educated there. Long story short, after five years I had graduated and had my own improv troupe, The Players to be Named Later, performing all over the city. We were named third-best improv group in Chicago by the Chicago Sun-Times, right below Second City and Improv-Olympic.
Sarah: When did you first become interested in acting?
Ralph: When I was in fourth grade at Eastside Elementary School in Athens, Ohio, I was playing George Washington chopping down the cherry tree in a musical number. As the chorus sang and I was chopping away, the cardboard axe came apart and hit the tree played by another actor. He screamed and ran off stage. I turned and said my line: “It was I. I cannot tell a lie.” The audience roared with laughter and I was hooked.
Sarah: What has been your favorite role and why?
Ralph: Every role is very special to me. I immerse myself deeply in every character so they all hold a special place in my heart. I do, however, prefer comedy. Laughter is healing. It is a goal of mine to heal the world with laughter.
Sarah: When did you launch your film career?
Ralph: I was fortunate enough to do my first film role right out of college in Columbus after responding to an audition ad in The Columbus Dispatch. It was a horror movie called Heartland of Darkness. I played a corrupt district attorney who eventually was forced to inject himself with poison. I was so happy to have my first death scene in a movie.
Sarah: Which art form do you prefer — film or theater — and why?Ralph: Theater. It will always be my first love! Nothing beats the audience and performer connection during a show. I adore that. It feeds my soul.
Sarah: What do you do in your spare time?
Ralph: Spare time? What is that? I have three kids, ages 13, 16 and 23, and I am Mr. Mom, so family keeps me busy. But when I do have spare time, I write comedy skits and work on a play I’ve been writing for quite some time. I also might watch a movie or listen to my favorite band, the Rolling Stones.
Sarah: What’s the best thing about the Columbus arts scene?
Ralph: Diversity, passion and talent. I am constantly delighted and amazed at the incredible artists Columbus has to offer. I believe any producer could come to Columbus and make a highly successful play or movie using only Columbus artists.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art and sharing information about exhibitions, performances, concerts and more at ColumbusMakesArt.com. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.