What was the first show you were in at The 5th?
The Rocky Horror Show, in the fall of 2003. I had just graduated from UPS that summer, and I went right into the ensemble of that insane production alongside Cheyenne Jackson, Louis Hobson, Laura Griffith, Billie Wildrick, Nick Garrison, Steven Taylor, Brandon O’Neil, Daniel Cruz, and SO many others who became local and national stars, and made friendships that have lasted to this day. What an introduction to the 5th!
How many shows have you done at The 5th in total?
Including the collaborations with ACT (First Date and Jaques Brel), Holiday Inn will be my 15th 5th Avenue Show as an actor. Add in directing ELF and Grease, plus Associate Directing jobs, concerts, readings, and workshops, I’ve been in this building for more hours than anywhere other than my actual house over the past 15 years.
How do you feel you have evolved as an artist over the years?
The saying “the more you know, the more you realize you know nothing at all” rings in my head constantly. I firmly believe that I learn something new in every show I do, in every rehearsal really. I used to want to prove that I belonged in such an impressive room by being prepared and having “answers” to questions. Now, I realize that the best art resides inside of the questions without answers and that in many ways the questions themselves ARE the art.
Who are some of the people you have acted for or with who have inspired you or motivated you to be better, particularly at The 5th?
Bill Berry has been my director, mentor, boss, friend, and agent ever since I graduated. I owe him so much. I’ve watched David Armstrong build this theatre into a nationally recognized incubator for world-class theatre, whether locally produced or Broadway-bound. As my choreographer on ELF, Dennis Jones inspired me with his combination of preparedness and willingness to listen to suggestions and change his own ideas if he identified something more clear. Kendra Kassebaum lays her broken, scared heart on the stage floor every time she enters a scene. Rodney Hicks is as brilliant as he is humble. There are far too many to list here. But I feel lucky to have crossed paths with these people while at this amazing theatre.
What are you looking forward to about Holiday Inn?
Doing a show with some of my best friends. Matt, Sarah, and Taryn are all so dear to my heart, and it will be true “play” up there on that stage. You can’t teach chemistry, and having such a bond with your scene partners before a process begins will only free me up to be completely open, and ready for anything. And David is so good at giving his actors long leashes to explore, that I know magic will be created inside of that freedom. It is going to be a special show.
You worked on ELF – obviously behind the creative table as opposed to onstage. What is special about being at The 5th at the holidays?
I almost start to cry every time I think about how many children will come see this show. I remember going to the theater as a child, and falling in love with the magic up on that stage. Knowing that this show will be the first exposure to theater for many of the kids in the audience makes me so grateful to do what I do. Bringing joy and community to family members, creating memories that kids will recall in good times and bad, that’s one of the main reasons I do what I do as a theatre maker. And there is nothing like a Holiday show to make an impact on young people’s lives. I can’t wait!
Holiday Inn plays November 24-December 31, 2017. Click here for tickets.
Photo credit Mark Kitaoka