Starting out as a dancer at the young age of seven, actor Colin Bates knew that the stage is exactly where he wanted to be in life.
“I started as a dancer and I was living in California,” Bates recalled. “I was friends with this girl who told me to come to dance class with her. So I went to dance class and I guess I liked performing. I think I liked the attention and the community and all that. It was dance that got me into acting and then it was musical theater, then straight on to acting and now I’m back doing musical theater many years later.”
Now you can see Bates on the Great White Way in the musical Girl From The North Country in which celebrated playwright Conor McPherson boldly reimagines the legendary songs of singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Bates plays Gene, who like everyone else in the musical, is struggling to get by in life.
“The musical takes place in Duluth, MN, and it’s just a bunch of these bizarre characters that are in and out of the house,” Bates said. “It takes place during the Great Depression in the 1930s, so everyone is having a bit of a crisis in their life somewhere or another. Gene is the son of the main family who owns the Laine Boarding House. My father is my father, my mother is losing her mind a bit and my sister is African-American who was adopted off the streets. So we have Dylan’s music to kind of set the mood and it’s more of a dramatic play, but it’s a very interesting show. I’m the young, lost, alcoholic artist in the 1930s who dreams of making a living off his art and it’s hard to do. It’s still hard to do for so many people.”
Now that Broadway is finally back in business after almost a year and a half shutdown due to COVID-19, Bates said it’s great to finally be back on stage.
“It is so amazing to be back,” he said. “The energy we’re getting from the audience is better than ever. People were yearning for theater I guess and we’re getting big crowds. People are pumped about it and they’re very vocal. The energy is very strong, so it’s a special time to be there.”
Throughout his career, Bates has been featured in many television shows such as American Rust, FBI: Most Wanted, Mayans M.C. and films. So does he have a preference on which one he likes better?
“I like them both for different reasons,” he laughed. “The best part about theater is the community and it’s just a family that we create. I love the collaboration of television and creating it. It’s like instant collaboration and it feels more like playing honestly. I think independent film is my favorite medium just because you get to take your time and work with the director.”
Colin Bates’ Favorite Bob Dylan Songs
Ever since Colin Bates was a kid, Bob Dylan has always been on his radar.
“I was actually listening to Dylan with my father in the car the other day and he was telling me all the times he listened to him when he was young,” Bates said. “My dad played Dylan’s music when I was growing up. Then of course when I became a young teen, I got into Dylan as well. The musical is very interesting with the arrangements [of the songs].”
Bates added that when he first got the job years ago to be a part of Girl From The North Country in London’s West End, he and his girlfriend took a road trip across the country for six weeks and went up to Duluth, MN.
“We tried to listen to Dylan’s music the entire time and it was pretty amazing,” he said.
Bates’ top three favorite Bob Dylan songs are:
- “Alberta #1” from the 1970 album Self Portrait.
- “Something There Is About You” from the 1974 album Planet Waves.
- “I Want You” from the 1966 album Blonde on Blonde.
Girl From The North Country is currently playing at the Belasco Theatre located at 111 W. 44th Street in New York City. For more information, visit www.northcountryonbroadway.com.