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The Collaborator 

  Roberson works with many of the same writers, performers and directors on projects, but one of his most frequent collaborators is local theater stalwart Ricky Graham. Most recently, the pair appeared together in reprised runs of Scrooge in Rouge and Auntie Mame at Le Chat Noir, and Graham appears in the upcoming Varla Jean and the Mushroomheads film.

click to enlarge Roberson and Graham star together in Scrooge in Rouge, a British music hall-style take on A Christmas Carol that has run at Le Chat Noir for the past four years.

  The two were familiar with each other as performers, ("I had seen Ricky Graham at the Mint with Becky Allen," Roberson says. "He would do these shows and they were so funny, and I thought, 'I wanna do that'.") but they didn't officially meet until 2006, when Roberson moved back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to produce Shut Up, Sweet Charlotte at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre.

  "For me, it was creative love at first rehearsal," Graham says.

  The two share a strong work ethic and a perfectionistic streak, constantly revising the shows they work on together.

  "That's why Ricky and I work so well together, because he's like me. I don't care how many times I've done it, I'm not going to freeze something if it can be fixed," Roberson says. "Even Ricky in the Scrooge in Rouge show has rewritten songs, and we've done it for four years now."

  Although Graham and Roberson are similar in that they are talented performers who also write and direct, neither upstages the other, Graham says.

  "Jeff is a generous collaborator — he's willing to cut some bit he's doing if it doesn't add to a scene and isn't afraid to let other actors have focus and get laughs," Graham says. "And after many years of producing and writing shows for other performers, Jeff is the only fellow actor I know who gets me work. It's nice to be on the receiving end."


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