Spotlight shines bright on the Riviere Former Weehawken resident pursues the stage, directs, teaches
by Jessica Rosero Reporter correspondent
Apr 22, 2008 | 187 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Actor, playwright, director, producer, and teacher are just a few of the many hats worn by Hudson County's Patrick Riviere.

A jack of all trades in the entertainment business, Riviere's resume includes over 100 roles in theater, film and television. He has perfected several special skills including speaking in numerous different dialects from New York Brooklyn to British Cockney, and if needed can grow a full beard in two weeks.

"I always felt that if I could make one person laugh then that is worth it to me," said Riviere of his career.

Made for the stage

Originally from upstate New York, Riviere says he has been a performer all of his life.

"I began when I was just a little boy singing and dancing, and as a matter of fact my first professional experience happened when I was 10 years old," said Riviere.

Riviere had his stage debut in the 1976 Bicentennial Touring Road Show in upstate New York, and was cast in the only speaking children's role. However, Riviere almost began working at the tender age of 5.

After meeting with agency representatives in New York and California, who wanted to cast him, Riviere's mother ultimately decided the timing was not right and felt that the decision to pursue an acting career should be his when he was older.

"She said 'I really feel he should have a childhood,' and I was very grateful for that," said Riviere.

In high school, however, Riviere was initially going down a different route, but also became more heavily involved with the performing arts.

"In high school, I was on course to become an engineer, but I determined I wanted to become an actor and my mother was extremely supportive," said Riviere. "I had a mentor that really believed in my talent, and I already had the [acting] bug."

"It was something I really enjoyed and felt like I was making a difference in an audience's life even if for a few minutes," he added.

Pursuing his dreams

Riviere went on to graduate from Niagara University in New York with a bachelor's degree in Theater and English, and made the move to the New York City area in 1988 in order to pursue his passion for the stage.

"I liked the way I felt," said Riviere. "It not only gave me a sense of self-worth, but I was helping others. I had the potential and I knew it would be a lifelong process."

Riviere settled in the town of Weehawken on Gregory Street in 1989, where he lived for a year before moving to Chicago for a short time. Afterwards, he relocated back to Hudson County, where he moved to Union City for a year and then to North Bergen for five years. Riviere has now lived in Cliffside Park for the last five years.

"Most of my adult life I have been in New Jersey," said Riviere. "New Jersey is my home."

New Jersey may be home for Riviere, but the New York metro area has been his stage for most of his career. Among Riviere's stage resume highlights includes off-Broadway productions such as Welcome to Our City and Babes in Toyland, and Anything Goes at Broadway on the Boardwalk at Trump Plaza, Atlantic City. Riviere's performance credits also include small roles on television and film including The Jury with Bruno Kirby and a role in the movie Serendipity starring John Cusack.

Other regional theater work includes You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, where he played Snoopy, South Pacific, Evita, and Oklahoma! among many others. He has also tackled classical works such as Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

Riviere has also had the opportunity to work with some of the most acclaimed names in theater including Broadway directors Michael Greif and Stafford Arima, famed choreographer Gemze de Lappe, and Tony, Emmy, and Grammy-award winning composer Charles Strouse.

"I feel like I was born on the stage and I feel very lucky to have spent most of my life doing what I love to do, and hopefully touching other lives in the process," said Riviere.

Not just an actor

However, Riviere's talents have not been limited to performance on the stage. He has also directed and produced work for the stage, and has worked with aspiring young talent.

"I have found the way for me to be able to do this is to be involved in a variety of aspects in the business," said Riviere.

In the 1990s, Riviere worked for Second Stage Theater, where he served as education director for a year and learned more about the administrative side of theater. He also served as the assistant director for the Weehawken-based theater company The Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center, and still works with them from time to time.

Also in the late '90s to early 2000, Riviere became the first industry/professional liaison at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, and worked as part of the adjunct faculty.

"I ran the internship programs and the high school summer programs," said Riviere. "It was certainly at that time [I discovered] the passion I had for helping young people cultivate and discover passion for the arts."

Riviere even reestablished the Buffalo Children's theater program near his upstate hometown, which introduced the performing arts to special needs students.

"I revived, revamped, and redid [the program] and saved it," said Riviere. "[Around that time] I started dabbling in directing."

Growing up, Riviere remembers spending time with his older brother, who had Down Syndrome and unfortunately died when he was 14 years old.

"A lot of my time spent with him was always in teaching," said Riviere. "Those are the experiences that molded me toward working with people and kids. I love being able to reach people through song and script."

Through the years, he has worked with children's theater programs in both the New York and New Jersey area. Some years ago he established PIE (Project In Education), which adapts a series of classic children's stories for the stage and is available to any local theater company.

In 1992, PIE also launched its now annual holiday series featuring stories about Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza among others.

One adaptation was of the classic story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

"I wanted to do a 10 minute version, so kids could be exposed to the story in a period of time; not overwhelming them," said Riviere. "It has all the main components of the story." The 10 minute version was entitled Old Mr. Scrooge.

Riviere also wrote the book and lyrics for a children's musical Prince Watersplasher, and co-founded The Emerging Artists Project, Inc.

For the past two months, he directed The Wizard of Oz in Westchester, NY for KJK Productions.

"It's a way for me to be creative, work with kids and put on my director's hat," said Riviere. "I always felt reaching young people through theater is the most important thing to me as an entertainer."

What's next?

During the month of April, Riviere will give seminars as part of the New Jersey Drama Festival, which is an annual statewide festival for middle school and high school students, and will run April 17 through 19, and 24 through 26.

The seminars will cover basics such as applying, auditioning, and interviewing for performing arts programs in colleges, and will touch upon the various types of theater and art programs available from within conservatories and at liberal arts colleges.

"I discuss what students should be looking for when looking at colleges," said Riviere. "I discuss the music, acting, and admissions side, [as well as] how to prepare and about scholarships."

In November, Riviere starred as Clarence the Angel in the Surflight Theatre's stage rendition of the classic story A Wonderful Life, made popular by the 1946 film starring Jimmy Stewart. The Surflight Theatre is in Beach Haven, NJ.

Riviere is also in the midst of promoting a book of his poetry works, which also features prints of his mother's oil paintings, entitled "Flowers in Autumn: Endings and Beginnings."

"I did a book tour last year in Edgewater, Fort Lee and Englewood," said Riviere. "The book was published last year and it was my first book," said Riviere. "It's a book of poetry and observations, and also of my mother's paintings. A lot of her work reflects the same themes of my writing."

This coming May, Riviere will also read for a potential new Broadway musical.

"I'm really excited about this project," said Riviere. "It's a legitimate big Broadway musical with 40 cast members, dramatic sets and a giant squid."

According to Riviere, The Really Big Pirate Show, which is a working title, is The Pirates of Penzance meets Les Miserables. Riviere plays a 6 foot parrot named Hamlet.

"I am playing Hamlet the Parrot, who guides the journey and is one of the main comic relief characters," he said. For more information on Patrick Riviere visit www.patrickriviere.com, or for more information on the New Jersey Drama Festival visit www.njdramafestival.org.

Comments on this story can be sent to: current@hudsonreporter.com.
Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet