on: Friday, October 25, 2002
Ex-NFL player tackles acting in
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
Al Noga is putting his football savvy
and experience to the test as he makes his stage debut
tonight in "Lysistrata," the updated Greek classic, at
|From left Cindy Beth Davis, Kristy Miller,
Amy Joy Matsen and Stephanie Kong star in
"Lysistrata," a modern rendering of the Greek play
about women taking charge in a world where men
usually call the shots. Matsen plays the title
Photos by Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu
comedy by Aristophanes, translated by Kenneth
McLeish, produced by Kennedy Theatre
p.m. today and tomorrow; repeats 8 p.m. Thursday,
Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, and at 2 p.m. Nov. 3
$12 general; $10 seniors, military and UH
staff; $8 students; $3 UH-Manoa
play a military extra, a face in the crowd," said Noga,
the former University of Hawai'i Warrior and ex-NFL and
Arena Football defensive end. "It's a little part, but
like football, you have to start somewhere. Someday, I
want to have a leading role. Right now, it's sort of
like first-and-25 to go — I have a way to go to make
that goal. I'm a wannabe, I'm trying to be, and I will
be — someday."
34 and a music major, Noga has returned to the Manoa
campus, intent on carving out a degree and an education
that would figure in an "off season" career he could
maintain while coaching football.
did several parts in 'Jake and the Fatman' several years
ago," he said when the acting bug bit. "When I was
playing in the NFL (for the Minnesota Vikings), one of
the things I really wanted to do, but had no time, was
to become involved in the movie business. One of my
brothers, Peter, works in the industry, so he's with the
Teamsters union on that 'Helldorado' movie, and I want
to be involved, too."
Noga said he's been a longtime fan, from afar, of
director Glenn Cannon, who is shaping the modernized
"Lysistrata," tackling issues of sex, politics and war,
with contemporary elements and costumes. "I tried to
take his course before, when I was a senior in school,
but it was full; I didn't want to miss out, so this
semester, I was able to sign up for a course," said
That led to his involvement in "Lysistrata,"
somewhat of a ribald take on the timeless Greek story
about Athenian women finding a way to take charge in a
world where men customarily call the shots.
Director Cannon said Noga fit into the theatrical
hierarchy nicely — after a sluggish start.
"As far as the play's concerned, he has an
ensemble role — but he's doing as well as a beginner
would," said Cannon. "My only annoyance, initially, was
that he would be late for rehearsals. Tempered by the
football experience, I suppose it was not an easy
transition, to try something new. But I'm using his size
and his strength to set up a moment or two — not to make
fun of him, but to give him a few instances" of
Noga hopes show biz will find a place in his
think this experience (in music, drama and theater) will
eventually help me with a career in coaching," said
Noga. "A good player can turn around and teach kids a
He's mildly amazed at the fun he's having while
going through the rehearsal process.
"Just like football," he said.
"I'm one of the dancers, and I have a lot to
learn — with no experience, no background in theater. So
when the choreographer tells me to be here or there, I
move," he said, likening dance to a football
"Everything is timing in football, and practice.
It's the same in theater; you have to rehearse, you have
to remember where you have to be, or it's not going to
Acting requires specific facial expressions —
"sad, mad, whatever," he said. "I can do mad well —
mad's no problem, because in football, you gotta be
With his football body (6-foot-1,
around 270 pounds), Noga is one of the heftier figures
on stage. "Size-wise, I may be the biggest," he
|Al Noga, right, a former UH and NFL
football player, appears in the UH staging of
"Lysistrata." Noga has returned to school at UH
and hopes to develop an acting career now that his
football career is
"I've been struggling with learning my lines, and
I'm really not ready for a bigger role, because I have
to tend to all the little things first. I'm still new at
the game. Sometimes I feel like I've had too many
penalties, for unnecessary roughness for forgetting a
line. But spending four to five hours every day for the
last few months, I now have some kind of idea of where I
need to be, where I have to go."
Noga has realized that acting, like football, is
a lot of practice and process. "There are no shortcuts
when you're starting out," he said. "You have to take
the long road first."
Noga said he admires the Hollywood success of The
Rock, Dwayne Johnson. "Here's a guy who made it in one
profession (wrestling) and made the jump into another
(acting). He's doing a lot for the people of Hawai'i; to
me, he's like 'Ben Hur,' Charlton Heston, getting paid
$10 million to make this movie."
yes, the fortunes of a Hollywood-linked career are an
"In football, I was making $24,000 a week," he
said. "But it's all about paying your dues first. You
start small — then build."