Richard Leighton's Bio
Richard Leighton is enjoying his sixth decade on stage and screen, making his debut--at age three--as the baby in Puccini's opera MADAME BUTTERFLY, then going on to a variety of venues ranging from the Metropolitan Opera (children's chorus and soloist) to live television dramas such as ARMSTRONG CIRCLE THEATRE and plays like AUNTIE MAME with such stars as Greer Garson and Rosalind Russell. Teen years moved him into musical comedies, then the Vietnam conflict led him to a four-year active duty tour as an Air Force paramedic. After returning to civilian life, he completed his education at NY's Hunter College (where he enjoyed the tutelage of Harold Clurman), then left New York to get a degree at Florida Atlantic University. While in Florida he won a CLIO award for his portrayal of a trans-racial (white to black) job applicant in a commercial for the Urban League. On returning to New York, he was co-founder (with international director Michael Lessac) of the Colonnades Theatre Lab, an experimental resident theatre with--among others--Jeff Goldblum, Danny DeVito and Peter Scolari as company members.
As an actor-singer, he scored off-Broadway successes as original cast in Terrence McNally's IT'S ONLY A PLAY, Ronald Ribman's BUCK (with Morgan Freeman and Jimmy Smits), the title role in Dennis McIntyre's MODIGLIANI and a score of revivals, including critically-acclaimed renditions of Richard Dudgeon in Shaw's THE DEVIL'S DISCIPLE, Marc Antony in Shakespeare's JULIUS CAESAR (with Brian Dennehy as Ceasar) and Jud Fry in the 80's Broadway/National Company revival of OKLAHOMA. He was also a member of the Mirror Repertory Company, appearing with fellow-members Geraldine Page, F. Murray Abraham, Tovah Feldshuh and scores of other theatrical luminaries. Television audiences saw him in a continuing role on ABC'S ONE LIFE TO LIVE, as well as starring roles in the PBS series AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE. Regional theatre gave him the opportunity to appear in many productions, including the world premieres of James McLure's NAPOLEON NIGHTDREAMS, Ray Bradbury's FARENHEIT 451, Don Nigro's DARK SONNETS OF THE LADY and Nagle Jackson's adaptation of A TALE OF TWO CITIES at such theatres as Actors' Theatre of Louisville, The Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and The McCarter Theatre Center at Princeton University where, from 1986 to 1999, he was on the faculty as a resident teacher and director with the McCarter Training Wing and Outreach Departments.
He has directed over 50 productions in the New York and regional theatres, including the world stage premiere of Rod Serling's REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT and, most recently, the off-Broadway premieres of Leonard Post's CARLA and KENTUCKY RAIN. His recent regional directing credits include A DELICATE BALANCE, THE TEMPEST, THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE, TALES FROM THE VIENNA WOODS, LAUNDRY AND BOURBON, LONE STAR, and his own adaptations of Chekov's THE THREE SISTERS, THE SEAGULL and THE CHERRY ORCHARD. He served as Co-Director of New York's Amato Opera Theatre, where he directed the world premieres of Martin Kalmanoff's EMPTY BOTTLE and Donald Grantham's THE BOOR, as well as productions of Gounod's FAUST, Mozart's COSI FAN TUTTE, and his own critically-acclaimed adaptation of Lehar's THE MERRY WIDOW.
The year 2001 led to an "epiphany" of sorts; Sept. 11, 2001 saw Richard using his paramedic skill sets as a volunteer EMT on Manhattan's Chelsea Piers waiting for the thousands of WTC victims who were anticipated to be needing treatment, but who never came. This sobering event led to his decision to return to his first calling, his acting career, and subsequently the varied roles in New York ran the gamut from the flamboyantly effeminate and homicidal piano player Wilbur Hightower in the world premiere of John O'Hara's VERONIQUE to the maniacal, uber-military Colonel in Sam Shepard's STATES OF SHOCK, as well as leading roles in the world premieres of Eric Pfeffinger's CLOSET CHRONICLES, the Reiser/Price/Engelstein musical THE EMBRACERS, Tony DiMurro's MINNESOTA FATS IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER and the world stage premiere adaptations of two classic short stories: Jean Paul Sartre's INTIMACY and Anton Chekhov's THE BLACK MONK, and the title role in the OOBR Award-winning revival of Ibsen's JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN (see "Still Images" page for sketches by Al Hirschfeld).
Relocating to Los Angeles in 2005--where he lives with wife Lisa and kids Whimsy, Sophie, Lilli, Timothy and Tabitha--his Los Angeles stage credits include the world premieres of A SPLINTERED SOUL and the DreamWorks production of GLADIATOR/THE MUSICAL, as well as the US premiere of AIRSICK, the West Coast premiere of Colin McPherson's SHINING CITY and Peter Shaffer's reworking of AMADEUS for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with Michael York at the Hollywood Bowl. The last few film seasons have seen him complete the title role in BROWN (dir. Chris Groban), The President in RED ACE COLA PROJECT (dir. Susan Metzger), Charles in TWO NIGHTS (dir. Oriol Bernat), Bruce in BOYCHIK (dir. Benji White), Ernie in SUDDENLY EVERY DAY BALLOONS (dir. Paul Gleason) and, for Fox, the lead role in THORNS (dir. Neil Thompson) which was featured at the 2009 Cannes Festival, as well as a commercial for designer Ellie Tahari and the recently released AFI feature ON THE OUTSIDE, directed by Brad Tucker. He has just garnered rave reviews for his work in the production of Arthur Miller's A MEMORY OF TWO MONDAYS at the Ruskin Group Theatre (which won him the 2011 StageScenesLA Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role, Drama), will be starring the upcoming webisode series ANA AND THE FUNERAL, and has just wrapped shooting ON TEACHING KILLER WHALES COMPASSION, directed by Raphe Wolfgang, COLD FEET, directed by Courtney Dixon and MURDER IN RETIREMENT, a comedy directed by Peter Hall.
Richard now resides in a lovely, quiet neighborhood of LA--overlooking the sea--where he tends to his garden, his kids, his koi, his white picket fence and his wife...proof positive that rebirth and reinvention are, in fact, possible for us all.