So you have worked with Susan Stroman many times as well?
I was so fortunate that my first Broadway show was her first as choreographer. I saw how she worked with her dancing, all of it is done from an acting approach, everything character driven. She wants to see individual people. As an actor who also dances, it is such a great approach for me. She is a very loyal person, so she asked me to come with her for her next project, which was Big, and we have developed this close working relationship and friendship.
So, what is it about The Producers that originally drew you to the show? Was it getting to work with Susan again? The material?
I was doing Contact at the time, and it was right after 9/11. There was someone in the ensemble of The Producers who panicked after the attacks and left New York. Stroman called me and asked me to join the company, which was about 9 months after it opened, and stayed through the end of the run. I had been doing Contact for three years, and it was a killer, physcially, so I was thrilled to go to The Producers. It was a massive hit, and I knew it would be there for awhile. I saw it on opening night and loved it, so it was an easy decision.
What do you like most about playing Leo?
I think a little bit of everything. During my time at the St. James as the understudy, I went on with every single actor who ever played Max on Broadway except Nathan Lane, and they were all completely different. I had to tweak my performance each time with what they wanted to do in terms of the relationship. Because in the end it is really all about the relationship between Leo and Max. There are three actors who I consider my "blue blanket", including the Max I learned the role with and Michael McCormick who is in this production with me. These are actors with whom I have a much closer relationship. You really have to do crazy things together on stage, so having that familiarity is important. It's like all the old comic duos - you know when someone is going to breathe, what the next move is. But it is also about being comfortable with trying new things together as well and going with it.
Do you relate to Leo in any particular way?
Yes, there is definitely a little bit of Leo in me. When you get to the courtroom scene you really see how these two men affect each other and how Max pulls Leo out of his shell and how Leo grounds Max, and I really relate to that connection.
And speaking of The Producers, what do you think it is about the show that brings audiences back to see it again and again?
I think the obvious is that you have Mel Brooks fans who come and know every single line. But if you are not familiar with Mel Brooks, the show has this quality, this punch in the gut comedy. Sometimes you cant beieve they said or did that. It hits you so hard that you laugh three seconds after where the laugh should be. It's hilarious every night to hear that. There are some moments where something happens and you can say in your mind, "Yep, folks, I just said that" and then you hear laughter. I also believe that production-wise it is about the inventive choreography from Stroman.
For people who have seen The Producers before, what can they expect from this specific production?
Of course, the show changes slightly based on the theatres. Also, Michael and I try new things, little tweaks as we go along. The structure is still the same as the Broadway production, but there are a few fresh changes that we have added. I think my portrayal is slightly different than all the guys I saw do Leo in New York. The great part of understudying is you get to see so many that you see what works and what doesn't. You can put it all together and do it how you would do it. I believe comedy out of honesty is much more real, so even though this is a crazy Mel Brooks piece, you have to remember that it is really about these two guys changing each other.
What about other musicals or plays? Do you have a dream role you would like to play one day? What's next for you beyond this show?
Actually, I do. New pieces speak a thousand words. As much as there are roles out there I love, being involved with new pieces, there is nothing else like it. You are the person collaborating to create it. I start this spring, working with Casey Nicholaw doing a production of Tuck Everlasting. He asked me to be associate choreographer and we start in March then go to Boston in May and June. If all goes well we go to New York in late summer. It is really a magical story. So beautiful and touching.
Anything else you would like readers to know about you or this production?
I am excited about doing the show again, but for me it is such a homecoming. I lost my father about five years ago, so to be home with my family, who are all very supportive is going to be great. A lot of them have never seen me perform and many of them are coming to see this. To be able to do what I do and to bring my two families together, my theatre family and my real family, is just great.
THE PRODUCERS will play the Fabulous Fox Theatre from January 25 - 31, 2013. Eight performances are as follows: Friday, January 25 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, January 26 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, January 27 at 1:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; Tuesday, January 29 at 8:00 p.m.; Wednesday, January 30 at 8:00 p.m and Thursday, January 31 at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets range from $25 - $65 and are on sale now at www.FoxATLTix.com or by calling 855-ATL-TIXX (855-285-8499). Special group rates for 10 or more are available by calling 404-881-2000, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.foxtheatre.org/groupsales.aspx. Half-price tickets are available for the Tuesday and Wednesday performances by using the code "AJC".
Follow Us on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/bww_atlanta for the most up to date Atlanta Theatre News on the Web!
Do you "Want to be a Producer"? Going to see The Producers? Talk about it on the Atlanta BWW Message Board