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Actor Ron Raines: Building a "Made in NY" Career on Stage and Screen

Actor Ron Raines can currently be seen on stage in Follies. Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus.
November 1, 2011 - Currently appearing in the Broadway revival of Follies, actor Ron Raines has spent the past thirty-seven years building his career in New York City. “New York City is much more appealing than living on the West Coast,” he said. “New York has the level of classical music, Broadway, opera, museums. This is why I live here: it’s because of the arts.”

When he was first starting out, more seasoned and mature actors told him if he could do anything else, he should do it because the pain and uncertainty of being an actor can be taxing. “You can talk about perseverance [to young actors], but a lot of times, it just rolls off their back,” he said. “Then something happens, and maybe they’re unemployed for a year.” That struggle, according to Raines, is when they find out whether or not they’re committed to staying in show business.

During the early part of his career, Raines spent nearly twenty years singing and acting on the stage, often on the road. (“New York is where people come to hire you for a production in Kansas City.”) He and his family were grateful when he landed on “Guiding Light,” CBS’ longest-running daytime drama series. “TV was a big surprise,” he remembered. “It kept me home.” Raines went on to spend fifteen years playing Alan Spaulding on CBS’ “Guiding Light,” a role for which he earned three Emmy nominations.

Raines and the cast of Foillies perform. Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus.

Now the Upper West Side resident is appearing eight times a week in the lavish revival production of Follies at the Marquis Theatre. Follies, which boasts an impressive 41-member company and 29-member orchestra, recounts the reunion of the legendary follies dancers as they gather and reminisce about their time on-and off- stage. Raines plays Ben Stone, married to one of former dancers but miserable in his life, his work and his relationships. “The story is all about generations and the journey of where life takes us.”

Performing eight shows a week can be a demanding schedule. “It’s my work,” he said. “It’s my job to keep it alive, to entertain. For the audience it’s the first time they’ve seen it. Life is never frozen. The show we did last night will not be the same show tonight.

“Fortunately, I’ve been able to do what I love.”
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