The Many Roles of Redding's Bob Koroluck
● By Jon Lewis
On with the ShowDecember 2014
By Jon Lewis
Bob Koroluck's debut on radio was somewhat auspicious, considering his first night on the air at Arcata radio station KATA was on a Friday the 13th in December 1973.
“I had just turned 21 and I thought radio looked like a lot of fun,” Koroluck recalls. I thought it paid a lot of money and I’d get a lot of girls. I was 0-for-2.”
Fortunately for all concerned, his acting career got off to a much more promising start. Back to Redding in 1999 after a disc jockey stint in Hawaii, Koroluck saw an audition notice for the Riverfront Playhouse production of “Harvey.” The theater was on his way to a dinner engagement, so he stopped in, gathered up his courage, read some lines and was offered a role.
It had been 20 years since he had last set foot on a stage, but the thrill of live theater returned with a flourish. “It was just a tremendous amount of fun. I had a great time and kind of got the bug. I think I did two shows back to back, then I went back to Maui and didn’t do anything on stage for five years.”
While his theater work was a little spotty during those years, radio work remained steady. After spending “the six longest months of my life” at the Arcata station, Koroluck returned to San Jose to upgrade his radio broadcasting license with the goal of landing a better job. Although he never worked at a station that required that first-class license, Koroluck memorized the answers to 535 questions to prepare for the exam, exhibiting a knack for memorization that would serve him well in the theater.
A visit with a friend in Anderson in 1974 gave Koroluck his first extended look at the North State and led to a DJ gig with the popular AM station KRDG, located in the Cascade Theatre. A year later, he moved to KMBY, “the musical power of Monterey Bay,” but a change
in ownership brought that job to an end after three months.
Koroluck returned to Redding and again secured employment at KRDG, only this time it was in advertising sales. It’s a line of work he’s stayed with for close to 40 years with detours to Medford, Ore., Hawaii and Southern California. Redding became his permanent home in 2004—“I decided that’s where I was meant to be, so I surrendered to the draw”—and he now sells, writes and produces commercials for KLXR AM 1230.
Back in his adopted hometown, Koroluck was a little hesitant about returning to theater after a long layoff, so he sought a small part in the Riverfront production of “Death of a Salesman.” He
landed the lead role of Willy Loman, playwright Arthur Miller’s tortured soul who falls short of the American dream.
“I was hoping to get my feet wet and ended up with Willy Loman and his 475 lines,” Koroluck says, shaking his head at the recollection. “I was emotionally drained after every performance and absolutely loved it.”
An astute character actor with an uncanny ability to quickly memorize his lines, Koroluck became a favorite of directors and routinely started landing choice roles. Some of his favorites include Henry Drummond in “Inherit the Wind,” King Oberon in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Finbar Mack in “The Weir” and, more recently, Tevye the dairyman in the Cascade Theatre production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Koroluck says he enjoys the immediate feedback live theater provides, and the fact that as an actor, “you get to be somebody else. I work very hard to be believable so people will suspend their disbelief and enjoy the story.”
Kathryn Kirk, who has shared the stage with Koroluck on several occasions—including as his wife, Golda, in “Fiddler”—says she’s struck by his dedication to his craft. “Regardless of any offstage distractions or good-natured arguments over staging or dialogue, everything is forgotten when you come on stage with him. He is completely in character; he’s never phoning it in. It’s an honor to work with him.”
“I am a great admirer of him and I have huge respect for him,” says Lisa Murphy Collins, another actress who has worked with Koroluck. “He is a consummate professional. He has a brilliant mind and it is a joy to be on stage with him.”
Darryll Alvey, a friend of Koroluck’s for the past 40 years, credits Koroluck with giving him the acting bug. He says his friend is very supportive of other cast members and determined to portray characters as faithfully as possible.
“He’s my definition of a great actor,” Alvey says. He gives each sentence a meaning. Bob has a way of sifting through all that and getting to what the playwright meant with those words. Bob is really good at that.”
Koroluck has recently branched out into feature film work with Redding filmmaker Rene Perez and has appeared in “The Dead and the Damned III” and “Prey for Death.” In the latter, Koroluck says he got to fulfill a boyhood dream of being in a Western.