Fireside Chats with Cast Member Alain Laforest
Alain Laforest, the man behind the voice.
Alain made his stage debut as “The Clock” in a 1st grade school production of Cinderella. In high school, he concentrated on art and eventually studied to be an illustrator. Later, the acting bug resurfaced, and he began performing in local theater productions. He's had television roles in The Path and Evil Lives Here as well as a series of commercials for Family Dollar stores. His voice has been heard in ads for the Connecticut Lottery. He lives in Queens, NY, with his wife Kacie and their dog, Ripley.
When did you first fall in love with the medium of radio drama or otherwise? Can you recall the first audio drama you heard and what you found compelling about it?
“I was about eight years old when I heard my first radio drama. It was an adventure show that I happened upon accidentally while changing radio stations on a car trip with my father. I don’t recall what the show was but I thought it was very cool. A few years later I came across a guy selling cassette tapes at a flea market and bought a tape with episodes of The Shadow on it which I loved and still own today.”
When did you first get involved in Fireside Mystery Theatre, and what drew you to the creative hearth?
“Ali Silva, who I had become friends with through a theater group in Queens, came to see a show that my wife Kacie and I were performing in. As we were hanging out after the show Ali introduced me to Gus Rodriguez, and they invited me to be in their upcoming Fireside show. I jumped at the chance to do it. It was Fireside Ghost Stories just before Halloween, and I did a reading as the Captain of The Demeter from Dracula, recounting the tale of that tragic voyage.”
As a performer what do you find most satisfying about the process of audio drama?
“I love getting to play multiple characters in each show and often playing parts that I would not be cast in if I were using more than just my voice. I’ve been able to play a middle-aged politician, an Italian clergyman, a mailman from New Jersey, a 1950s teenager, and even a creature that was genetically engineered to be eaten alive! You never know what each script will bring, but they’re always full of fun, challenging roles.”
Tell us about the character you’ve found most satisfying to play so far throughout your Fireside career and why?
“I’d have to say Simon Perdido, a villainous industrialist/occultist who was introduced as the antagonist to Mr. Sheldon in The Return To Sunken Harbor episode, the second of our ongoing Sunken Harbor saga. Despite being killed off in that story, good old Simon hasn’t let that little setback keep him from returning again and again to cause grief for the Sunken Harbor residents—and you kinda have to admire that! I see him as a classic suave, 1940s, Vincent Price type of villain, and it’s an absolute joy to voice him."
Who is your favourite Fireside character you didn't play?
“Cobra Kleinman, also from the Sunken Harbor series; the master of the local dojo. He’s the complete opposite of Simon Perdidio. Cobra is just an average local guy so focused on getting by day-to-day that he’s nearly oblivious to the weird goings-on in his town. But he’s always there when you need him. Michael Pate, who plays him, does a phenomenal job with the character and makes every line of Cobra’s dialogue a treat. It’s sometimes difficult to keep from laughing out loud along with the audience when he’s performing!”
Which play that Fireside has produced are you proudest of and why?
“That would have to be ‘The To-Do List’ from our 2017 Holiday Haunts show. Most of our episodes feature some sort of macabre, supernatural twist but this episode is a truly heartfelt and emotionally resonant Christmas tale with a really poignant message. The performances are wonderful and touching, especially from the leading ladies, Ali and Kacie. If you’re the kind of person who watches It’s A Wonderful Life each holiday season you should make listening to this episode part of your yearly tradition as well.”
When you’re not treading the boards at The Slipper Room performing in Fireside Mystery Theatre what occupies your time?
“I’m kind of a homebody. Recently, I’ve started sketching and painting again. Besides that, I love watching movies, reading, and, along with my wife, finding fun and unique eateries in NYC. For work, I’m a toy demonstrator at FAO Schwarz. I get to showcase various products and interact with kids and parents from all over the world. It’s like performing in a children’s show for eight hours a day. I get a kick out of delighting the kids and seeing them get excited especially when it’s for one our artsy or creative products.”
Which podcast, aside from Fireside Mystery Theatre of course, do you listen to regularly and what do you love about it?
“Currently, my favorite podcast is The Weekly Planet. It’s two Australian guys discussing movies, comics and television. I love it because you get to hear two friends discuss what they’re watching and reading in a witty and insightful way without any arguing or negativity.”
Which horror movie, scary book or play has had the biggest impact on you and why?
“I'm a big fan of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. It’s a great slow burn, psychological horror film with spectacularly nightmarish moments. This story has everything. Emotionally damaged people, family dysfunction, isolation, madness, murder, ghosts, scary twins, ESP, labyrinthian mazes. The acting and direction are superb and timeless. What more could you want?!”
Have you ever had a supernatural experience in real life? If yes, tell us about it. If no, do you believe in the supernatural?
“Unfortunately, I haven't—yet—but I remain open to the possibility…”
Where can people find out more about you or connect with you?
"To find out more about me, get career updates and see pictures of my dog, you can follow me on Instagram @alainlaforest67 and on Twitter @alainlaforest2."