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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

Entries in Broadway (239)

Wednesday
Mar062013

Robert Whul: HIT-LIT Interview

Robert Wuhl began his career in stand-up comedy. His acting roles in films have included Tim Burton’s Batman, Bull Durham, Cobb, Mistress and Good Morning Vietnam. From 1996-2002 he wrote and starred in the HBO series Arli$$ as the title character, an agent for high-profile athletes. He won two Emmy Awards for co-writing the Academy Awards in 1990 and 1991. He starred on HBO in a one-man show Assume the Position with Mr. Wuhl

Now Robert's new show HIT-LIT, a mistaken-identity screwball comedy, will play Queens Theatre from March 7-17. It tells the story of Phoebe Saint-Anne, an ambitious young editor who is searching for the next best seller. Click here for tickets!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer/writer? Adam, I really don't know what else I wouldn've done. But, among those who inspired me were Woody Allen, Neil Simon, Kaufmann and Hart, Paddy Cheyevsky, Cary Grat, Myrna Loy, Carole Lombard, William Powell, and Preston Sturgess.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Besides the above, I'd like to work with anyone who's willing to put their ass on the line for what they truly believe in. The Cohn Bros., Theresa Reback, David Mamet, Jason Reitman, and Alexander Payne.

3. What made you want to write HIT-LIT? HIT-LIT actually started out as a film script, but the feedback I got from the studios was that it was "too smart" for the demographics. One film exec actually said he was passing on it because it reminded him of Tootsie in style. When I asked what was wrong with that, he replied, Tootsie would have a hard time getting made today. I wrote it because I wanted to do a better romantic screwball than I was seeing.

4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? A big smile on their faces and a feeling of "that was a fun night of theater."

5. What excites you about having HIT-LIT as Queens Theatre first Mainstage Production of 2013? What does Queens Theatre offer your show that another venue might not? Ray Cullom, Executive Director of Queens Theatre, read a draft of Hit-Lit and within minutes said he would do a reading of it, and within two weeks he had it on his main stage. Among the actors in that reading were Richard Kind and Tracee Chimo. Afterwards, Ray offered to put it on his season. That kind of support and belief was overwhelming.

6. What is your favorite part of the creative process in writing a show? The organic nature of watching a comdy evolve and finding both truth and humor.

6a. Where is your favorite place to write? In my home listening to baseball.

7. You wrote and starred in HBO's hit series Arli$$. Looking back, what did you enjoy most about this time in your life? The fact that I could think of a topic to explore, whether it be steriods, homophobia in sports, domestic abuse, fallen idols, fantasy baseball, whatever, and within two months that story would be on the air. I fondly remember being at a party when Fran Leibowitz came up to me (in her chain-smoking melodious tone) and said, "I hate sports, but I love your show!" That's because Arli$$ wasn't about sports; it was about CHARACTERS in the world of sports -- and that's totally different. Most sports stories are all about "the big game." We never had a big game, we had stories about not only the athletes, but about the people who sold peanuts in the venues, the woman who choreographed the cheerlearders. The college athletic directors on the take,  the female golfer who was fighting alchoholism, etc. Much more interesting to me than just the jocks.

8. You also won two Emmy Awards for co-writing the Academy Awards in 1990 and 1991. What did this honor meant to you? It was fun and working those years with Billy Crystal was terrific.   Unlike today where you'll see a dozen or more writers on the show, it was originally just me and Billy. And then the great Bruce Villanch joined us. And don't underestimate the contribution of Marc Shaiman for the "medleys."

9. What made you want to transition from stand-up comedy to acting to writing? Actually, I was a writer first, then started doing stand-up as way to show off my writing skills. I had a strong drama and acting background from my years at the University of Houston. Among my classmates were Dennis Quaid, and my dorm roommate (believe it or not) was Julian Schnabel.

10. What have you learned about yourself from your career? That anything is possible.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. What's the best advice you've ever received? What makes the unskilled eye laugh makes the skilled eye cry.

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? The power of making Donald Trump and Ann Coulter shut up.

Tuesday
Feb262013

Ann Harada: Cinderella Interview

Photo Credit: Bruce Alan JohnsonBest known for originating the role of "Christmas Eve" in the Tony Award winning musical Avenue Q, Ann Harada continues to dazzle audiences with her talented acting, exquisite vocals, and most of all her comedic genius! I first interviewed Ann back in 2008, just as she was getting ready to open on Broadway in 9 to 5. It's an honor to once again have the opportunity to interview Ann as she is now starring on NBC's SMASH and in the new Broadway musical Cinderella, currently playing at the Broadway Theatre (1681 Broadway at 53rd Street).

Ann Harada on the set of SMASH as "Linda", Photo Credit: Philip Spaeth1. Last time we spoke, you were getting ready to join the cast of Broadway's 9 to 5. Since then, you created Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve, a benefit for BCEFA and are a series regular on NBC's SMASH! What do you enjoy most about being on SMASH? What is the best part about getting to work with Megan Hilty again (the two of you worked together in 9 to 5)? The thing I most enjoy about being on Smash is hanging out with all the theatre people, both regulars and guests. It is so much fun to run into bigwigs like Manny Azenberg and Jordan Roth and to meet up with old friends like Lewis J. Stadlen, who was in my first Equity show, and I hadn't worked with him in the 20+ years between that and Smash! And the cool young dancers are so sweet to me, teaching me how to use my phone.

Ann Harada and Megan Hilty in Broadway's "9 to 5"The best part about working with Megan Hilty again is that even though now she's a big TV star, she's just the same sweet girl she always was. I was in awe of her talent during 9 to 5 and I'm still in awe of her talent...the only difference is the rest of the country knows about it now.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Lots of people, but especially Angela Lansbury.

Ann Harada as "Charlotte" in "Cinderella"3. Now you are starring in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. What made you want be part of this show? I did a reading of the show in January 2012 and I just fell in love with the characters and with Doug Beane's script. I always loved the music. So it was a no-brainer.

4. What do you identify most with about your character "Charlotte" in Cinderella? We both like pink? We're both kind of awkward and have a hard time wearing heels?

5. What does it mean to you be getting to originate a role in a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical? Being able to originate a role in a Rodgers and Hammerstein show is knowing you will be a part of history. I grew up knowing that Rodgers and Hammerstein was the gold standard of musical theatre...even people who didn't go to the theatre much (like my entire family) owned a record of The Sound of Music or The King and I. So to be able to share in that legacy is extremely moving to me.

Ann Harada, Harriet Harris, and Marla Mindelle at rehearsal for "Cinderella"6. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Cinderella? I hope audiences experience the sense of romance and delight that I always felt when I watched the TV version as a child (Lesley Ann Warren...though I do adore the Julie Andrews one as well).

7. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse on your own? Haha! I love the rehearsal period of a show. I love the first few days when we're learning the music the most. My favorite place to rehearse on my own is my bedroom. In my own little corner, I can be whatever I want to be!

8. Since you are starring in Cinderella, if you could have anyone slip a glass slipper upon your foot, who would you choose? I plead the fifth.

9. What do you relate to now about the story of Cinderella that you might not have when you were a child? I actually feel a little sorry for the stepmother now...her dreams for her own daughters are thwarted.

10. In addition to being an actress, you are also a mother. Has being a mother influenced your decisions in choosing what roles you audition for? If so, how? I try very hard not to take long-term work away from NYC. The last time I went out of town for a long time was for the LA tryout of 9 to 5 and I was away from my son for 5 weeks without seeing him...that was too long.

Jordan Gelber, John Tartaglia, Ann Harada, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, and Natalie Venetia Belcon in Broadway's "Avenue Q"Ann Harada in "Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve" 2011, Photo Credit: Peter James Zielinski11. You are known for originating the role of "Christmas Eve" in Avenue Q. Looking back, what was the best part about creating this role and starring in this show? Now that Avenue Q continues Off-Broadway at New World Stages, would you ever consider going back to it? What made you want to revive your character "Christmas Eve" for your holiday show Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve, a benefit for BCEFA? The best part about creating "Christmas Eve" was that so much of her is me. So there's a little bit of me in that show no matter where or who plays the part! Of course I would consider playing her again, but I don't think they really need me Off-Broadway! Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve is special because playing her permits me to indulge my wildest musical fantasies (It was really just an excuse to riff on this character that I love and know so well, and to have a great excuse to hang out with cute guys. What can I say? I'm shallow. (Oh! See question 4!)

BONUS QUESTIONS:

Ann Harada and Marla Mindelle in "Cinderella", Photo Credit: Laura Osnes12. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? You can be as brave as you make believe you are. (see question 5)

13. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Stick your dick out." It means, take a chance, go for it.

14. Favorite way to spend your day off? Reading under the covers.

15. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Flying, flying, flying! Invisibility is cool too but really, flying!

Sunday
Feb242013

Ethan Paulini, Wendy Watson, and Christopher Sidoli: Mama and Her Boys Interview

Ethan Paulini, Christopher Sidoli, and Wendy WatsonOn a recent Sunday afternoon I sat down with the creators and cast of Mama and Her Boys, Ethan Paulini, Wendy Watson, Christopher Sidoli, at one of Hell's Kitchen's hot spots, Gossip Bar (733 9th Avenue, between 49th & 50th), to discuss this fabulous new show! Mama and Her Boys is a musical revue that explores the dynamic relationship between mothers, sons and families. With musical direction and arrangements by William Demaniow, Mama and Her Boys features an eclectic mix of 25 songs from Broadway to Pop, Motown to Country, and even Disco.

Mama and Her Boys will play an open run at The Underground (955 West End Avenue at 107th Street and Broadway), the Upper West Side's hottest new theatrical performance space. Each week, a special guest "family member" will be featured in the show, which plays Monday nights at 9pm. Click here for tickets!

1. Who or what inspired each of you to become a performer?

Ethan: My mother. She was a visual artist and as I was growing up she just wanted me to be involved in something. My dad was kind of a jock, so they would compete to see which interest I was going to take more of a liking to. I never got that into playing sports, but then I remember one summer when I was six or seven and I didn't want to do any of those things and my mother told me I had to do something, so she took me to the Harwich Junior Theatre where I started taking classes. From the minute I got there, I was like, "I'm home." My mother was always encouraging me to do this as a career, as hard as it was, but she told me I needed to keep focused and keep going.

Wendy: My mother also influenced me. She was a theatrical director, well is, she's still doing it at 85 years old on Cape Cod. She cast me in my first role when I was five. My father was the minister of this huge Presbyterian Church in NYC and my mother would direct these "radical" plays in the old sanctuary...things like The Trial of The Catonsville Nine, these heavy duty political plays, which showed this tension between the good boy (my father, the minister) and my mother doing this radical theatre in the backroom and I guess I picked up on the theatrics and started directing, starring in, and selling tickets to my own shows in the same space by six or seven years old. I can't say my mother was as encouraging. She told me very clearly in my teens, "If you can want to do anything else, do it. This life is really really hard." I took that to heart and as a result, I ended up with two careers (acting and sign language interpretation). Getting to do Mama and Her Boys is really full circle for me...it's coming back to New York and singing, but not taking my entire life. It's very rewarding.

Christopher: I'm going to be the one person and not list my mother, but I do have three women who influenced me. My two grandmothers were very inspirational in my life. One introduced me to opera and the other introduced me to Rodgers and Hammerstein movie musicals at a very young age. That kind of explains a lot of me because I love both old school musicals and opera. The other person to influence me was Lucy Simon, the composer of Secret Garden, who we are showcasing in Mama and Her Boys. I remember hearing a song from Secret Garden for the first time in the third grade and it gave me shivers. It was that moment I knew I wanted to sing, so I auditioned for the school musical of Oklahoma and it just took off from there. 

Ethan Paulini, Wendy Watson, and Christopher Sidoli2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to?

Ethan: One thing I've enjoyed about this process of bringing Mama and Her Boys to the stage is that it's taught me about being a producer and director. There are a lot of directors I'd like to work with like Hal Prince. I love the fact that he has both directed and produced his own work. There are also a few younger directors I'd like to work with: Michael Mayer (who I got to spend a little time with while he was directing American Idiot), Diane Paulus, Doug Wright, and Joe Mantello. I'm very excited about directors right now.

Wendy: I have a couple of answers to that question. I would love to work with Jessica Lange. I think she's incredible. I would love to just have the opportunity to watch her and learn from her. Diane Paulus also came to mind for me. I just finished interpreting the new production of Pippin at ART. That was a really extraordinary pinnacle life experience for me as an interpreter performer. Seeing her vision come to life and getting to be a small part of that was very exciting. I'd love to work with her more. I'd also like to work with Kim Weild. She's done some work with mixed deaf and hearing theatre. We've always interpreted a few of our shows per run and I'm wondering how Mama and Her Boys could be expanded to include sign language as well. And not just interpreted, but further than that, using a dual cast of singers and deaf people that are signing the songs.

Christopher: I would love to work with Maggie Smith. I've enjoyed everything she's done and feel like I take an acting class when I watch her. She is so inspirational. I love the fact that she's going to act until the day she dies. On the creative side, I'd love to work with many composers like Stephen Sondheim and Lucy Simon. I think the world would be really boring without them. I feel they add so much color and beauty to the world, like so many artists do. I've never been able to compose my own music and I think it's amazing to me the people who are able to do that and that they create this opera or musical and how that music can move you.

3. You are presenting Mama and her Boys, a new musical revue about the relationship between mothers, sons, and families at The Underground. How did this project first come about and how did each of you get involved?

Ethan: We've all known each other for a long time. Christopher and I have known each other since we were teenagers doing local theatre together. In 2000, we were cast in a production of Kiss of The Spiderwoman and Wendy was cast as my mother. Since then, we've all worked on different projects together and Wendy kept playing one of our mothers in the shows we were in, so she kind of got this mama reputation [everyone laughs]. Since we liked singing together, we decided to try to find a way and a reason for us to do so. This idea of mothers and sons came about and Cape Rep (where we did Kiss of the Spiderwoman and many other productions) was starting a new winter series and said, "Why don't you put together a show?" and we all thought about it and came together with songs that had a theme, but didn't tell a story and then every time we would get a booking, we didn't want to sing the same 25 songs that don't mean anything, so let's try to find a way to string them together in a way that will create a story. Through everyone's suggestions, the story evolved and then every time we would refine the story, the characters, the conflict, and their resolution some more. Then I gave the story to Linda Kline, who wrote A Class Act. I had been working with her at the time and asked her to look at the piece and suggest ways to further refine it. We've taken feedback very seriously and now we have a piece with a clear story and great songs. This story will continue to grow.

Wendy: To me this process has had a magical quality. I don't think any of us imagined that two years later, we'd still be doing this show. Because we've done it at a variety of venues, there's been this natural evolution that has worked with the natural audience in that area. For instance, what we presented in Brewster was more dramatic than what was presented in Provincetown, which was campier. To me, the most amazing part has been the emergence of the story. We didn't start with a beginning, middle, and end. That sort of showed up partially because of the music and the influence on us and partially because of our relationship between the three of us that naturally occurs and one of the things that exciting now is exploring the use of other performers which reaches to a larger circle of people and how this story is archetypal in a sense and affects everyone who sees the show.

Wendy Watson sign language interrepting4. What has been the best part about working together and what have you learned from each other?

Wendy: The best part of working together is singing together. Today in rehearsal, there is a song that I've been singing for the past two years and I just got so choked up looking at the two of them, I could barely finish the song. There is a genuine familial like relationship between us. These guys grew up together and sometimes they really do talk to each other like siblings and I have come in the middle. Sometimes we have moments where I become more maternal and other times I'm less maternal. There is some microcosm of a family we are enacting here and we all come at it from different places. Ethan has lost his mother and I am transitioning into a period in my life where I'm taking care of my elderly parents and Chris' relationship with his parents is different, so it's like a means to explore the most important relationships in our lives, so it always has this real resonance to it.

Christopher: We've known each other for so long and there is a tremendous amount of history between us already and that all comes into play. When you are performing a piece of this intimacy there are so many memories that come up. Ethan's mother played such a huge role in both our lives and been very supportive of us, so she's so much apart of this show with us. When you go through things like that together, it strengthens you and you are never quite the same, in a good way.

Ethan: My favorite part of working on this piece is not being the director or producer, though I'm very interested in pursuing that, but getting the opportunity to do this show with people I trust so I don't have to pull any punches, but I also learn the way to navigate someone with respect. The people I'm working with know I have a lot of respect for what they do, so if they are doing something that doesn't work, I feel comfortable letting them know, without them taking it personally. I think this will transition well when I work with people I don't know and have to tell them something is not working.

Christopher Sidoli, Wendy Watson, and Ethan Paulini5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Mama and her Boys?

Ethan: Warmth. A sense that they are not the only ones who go through struggles with a family member or any relationship in their life. It's okay to get frustrated by someone and be hurt by someone and it's okay to find a way to forgive and grow. We also want them to have fun. There is something for everyone. You don't have to be a musical theatre lover to enjoy our show.

Wendy: I'm going to answer this question with how I've seen audiences be moved by Mama and Her Boys. There was one family that came to see the show in Provincetown and it was probably a 35-year-old transgendered woman and her parents in their mid-seventies. In Provincetown you have to bark (sell your tickets on the street) and the parents were so clearly uncomfortable, but trying very hard to be accepting. They came to the show and it was so moving to see all three of them go through this process of recognition of where they each stood, their differences, and then the reconciliation of coming together. I remember one woman coming up to me after a show in Harwich, who was about 85 years old, and she said, "Thank You very much. I never realized what my mother did for me." I thought to myself, "Wow, you can be 85 and still look at that." It's these responses that are powerful to me. This is a story that anyone can relate to.

Ethan: We have to remember that parents were children at some point too. That's another thing I love about this show. In the latest version of the show, there is a part in the show where we make a very clear shift to "Mama" remembering being a child and remembering her family relationship. This is an important part to her story because she has to figure who she is beyond "Mama." She has to figure out who she is without her children and who she was before her children. I want the people who are children who come see the show to have a new sense of their parents' point of view and I want the parents to have a sense of the children's point of view.

Christopher: We have seen some incredible responses from people that have come away from the show. As a performer when you go out the stage door and you can very clearly see that they were affected or moved by what you just did it fills you right up, even if your tank is below empty. It's moments like those that you realize; this is why I am here doing theatre.

6. What made you want to bring Mama and Her Boys to NYC? Why did you want to play The Underground? What does this venue offer your show that another one might not?

Christopher: Ultimately NY is our home. It's a return for Wendy and we are thrilled to have her back. We all have come and gone over the years. Ethan and I have left to do tours and regional gigs. It always feels great to come back home to NY and rediscover friendships and colleagues. We had always felt it would be wonderful to do the show here. It feels so good to be here. Ethan found The Underground and from the moment I walked in, I knew this is where Mama and Her Boys was going to start its NY run. There is such a comfortable ambiance to it.

Ethan: I am digging The Underground. I really like the location that has a great energy to it that feels like our show. It's a new venue so we can take some responsibility in putting a stamp on it and becoming known as something that spearheaded it. From a producing standpoint, it was the perfect size. It was in a perfect location that allowed us to draw from a variety of pools. The Underground is only 80 seats, so it's the logical next step in the life of our show to get people in the door.

Wendy: One of the things that is special to me with The Underground, in this whole full circle, is that I used live only a block away when I had lived here previously. My parents found the apartment for me and this was before any kind of gentrification was happening there. No one in their right mind would live there, but I did for the longest time. It's nice to be back in the neighborhood again.

7. Each week you will be having a different guest "family member" perform with you. How did you decide who you wanted to join you?

Ethan: I love the idea of this guest "family member" because the reason to do this show for us is to make music with people we like making music with. We all have a lot of friends who do really interesting things, whether they are in Broadway shows or another part of the entertainment industry, and in order to expand our family and keep it fresh for us and the audience I thought we should reach out to some of these people we know and have them find material that resonates with them and makes them feel a part of the show. I went through my wish list for the first group and everybody said yes, which I love. The first group of people are friends like Christina Sajous who's in Forever Dusty (and previously in American Idiot and Spiderman) and Ellyn Marie Marsh who's in Kinky Boots. Some of the people I chose were strategic because they've been in several big Broadway shows and it was a way to get their fan base to come see our show.

Wendy Watson, Christopher Sidoli, and Ethan Paulini8. Since this show is about relationships between mothers, sons, and families, if you feel comfortable talking about it, what are each of your relationships like?

Ethan: I kind of touched on this in the first question, but my mother passed away in 2008. I was very close with her. She was funny, generous, and warm, with a great spirit about her. She was all the things I'm not [laughs]. I got all these qualities from her. She was artistic and musical, but not in the traditional sense like a musician, but she loved music. We would talk about it all the time. She was really great. It was in 2010 when we started thinking about Mama and Her Boys and I felt I had grieved the appropriate amount of time to allow me to talk about anything to do with mothers and then as we started working on the show, I started to crave that maternal energy and fill the maternal void.

Christopher: I believe that when the cards are down and you are going through a particularly hard time in your life, whether it's losing your mother or something else, you quickly learn who your real family and friends are. I remember when Ethan's mother passed, it was an interesting experience because all of our close friends rallied together and were there for him. In many ways to me, I feel like, we celebrate her in this show. Her presence has always been there with us from the start and she'll be there on opening night with us.

In terms of my particular family, I was closest to my two grandmothers, which I also touched on earlier. My mother and my father are very supportive of me currently, however, my maturation process with them was not so easy. They were not supportive of me going into this career. I've kind of done everything I wasn't supposed to. I was supposed to be a doctor, but instead I went into theatre. Theatre in my house was looked upon as something impractical or stable (which it's not stable), but they have come a long way and are very supportive of me and my career.

Wendy: My parents were my cheerleaders since day one. They came to EVERYTHING I ever did, even if it was difficult to get to or they didn't understand why I was doing it, they still came. It has only been with their advancing years that that has changed at all. I think it's really hard for them not to be here for this opening. I feel very fortunate to be so close with them. I think one of the reasons we are so close is because of when I was born. I was the youngest of five kids, so by the time they got to me, they sort of had been through everything already. They already knew what they could and could not control about their children. I had a much easier set of parents in a lot of ways than my siblings did, so I feel very lucky that way.

9. What have you learned about yourselves from being performers?

Wendy: That's a great question. I think at different periods of my life, my answer would be different. Right now, what's so exciting to me is doing it for the love of doing it. When I was younger it, I performed more for the reason of "look at me, look at me, look at me." I used to do a one-woman show for years and I just felt you'd get more bang for your buck. You'd be paying for 45 minutes of me instead of just seeing me to two lines in a show. Now, I noticed I don't want to do that anymore. I want the collaborative experience and for me it's about the heart. It's about being able to create something that touches people and makes a difference in this world. I wouldn't be commuting from Cape Cod to do ANY show. I'm commuting to sing with these guys and to do THIS show because I've seen how it affects people. That's what I've learned...it's not really about the glitz and the glamour; it's about the guts instead.

Ethan: I've learned patience. I have a touch of the OCD and I like things organized and finished. I don't like to leave loose ends hanging. I used to tell myself that until it's finished I couldn't stop. Through being a performer I've figured out how to enjoy the process, to enjoy the moments that it's not finished and that it's not supposed to be finished.

Christopher: In life you have good days and bad days and in theatre you have good shows and bad shows. What you learn from the good ones is just as important as what you learn from the bad ones. Sometimes a light doesn't go on or a door doesn't close and that is one of the things that make live theatre so great. It's okay to have a bad show or bad day. Similar to Wendy, what I've learned has changed for me greatly over the course of my life. The biggest process for me was learning to let go of things, which I continue to try and do.

10. What's the best advice you've ever received?

Wendy: The best advice I've ever received just very recently came to me from a friend when I was thinking about coming to NY and I did vacillate between "I'm absolutely thrilled to death and what the hell am I thinking." I had these thoughts because it's been a long time since I've performed in NY. I wondered "Am I the best person to be doing this in NY? Is this the best approach?" My friend told me "You are the only one who can bring what you bring." That gave me some real genuine groundedness. I was like, "Right, this wouldn't be the same if someone else was standing here doing the same material. This is what I HAVE to offer and that's enough."

Ethan: My advice comes from my last answer. Learning to live in the mess of it, comes from advice I've received. That keep calm and carry on is really the best advice I've gotten.

Christopher: My advice comes from my friend who's a painter and has struggled for many years in his career. He said to me, "I have seen people who are better than me, but they gave up too soon. They didn't fight hard enough. You have to have a fight in you for what you want to do. If you don't have that, you just have to hold on and realize that eventually things will work out."

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?

Ethan: To fly.

Wendy: I like the freedom of flying, but what occurred to me first, was "Beam me up Scotty." That would just make my life easier.

Christopher: I grew up loving horror films and Carrie is one of my all time favorites, so I would love to have telekinesis and move stuff.

Call Me Bios:

Ethan Paulini: After graduating from Emerson with a BA in Acting, Ethan began almost immediately performing in New York, on national tours and regional theatre. His favorite credits have included Oliver! (Cameron Mackintosh's national tour), Forever Plaid (TriArts/Sharon Playhouse), The Who's Tommy (Arkansas Rep/Arts Center of Coastal Carolina), tick, tick..BOOM! (Cape Rep/Provincetown Theatre), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Northern Stage), The Full Monty (Arkansas Rep/Cape Rep/Provincetown Theatre), Side Man (Cape Rep), The Drowsy Chaperone (Cape Rep), and The 39 Steps (ACCC). Ethan was a member of the Equity acting company at the historic Weathervane Theatre appearing in 9 to 5Kiss Me, KateMoon Over BuffaloAvenue Q and the regional premiere of Young Frankenstein for which he received a 2012 NHTA nomination. Ethan created the title role in the regional premiere of Andrew Gerle and Maryrose Wood's The Tutor (SBT/2007 Spirit Award) and "DT" in the original New York production of The Sexless Years at Ars Nova (2006 MAC Nomination). In 2006, Ethan appeared in BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre. Ethan appeared in the world premiere of Larson Award winner Lance Horne's Back in the Day (Cape Rep) and can be heard on the original cast album. He appeared and co-produced, with Provincetown Counter Productions, the pre-Broadway World Premiere of David Caudle's The Common Swallow. He also appears on Lisa Howard's debut album Songs of Innocence and Experience. He created the critically acclaimed musical song cycle Mama and Her Boys and is currently developing Gaylebrity with Kate Pazakis

Wendy Watson: Wendy is delighted to return to  the New York Stage  with this production, having originated the role of "Mama" at Cape Rep Theatre, and performed the show in Provincetown, Harwich and Brewster over the past two seasons. Recent Roles include: "Molina’s Mother" in Kiss of The Spiderwoman; "Old Lady" in Sunday in the Park With George; "Sophie" in A Class Act; "Ruth Sherwood" in Wonderful Town; and "Lead Performer" in Grand Night for Singing. Many New Yorkers will recognize her from her one- woman show, Wendy Watson, I Presume, directed by Barry Kleinbort, which recurred over five years at The Duplex and Don’t Tell Mama. Wendy also enjoys her life as a Professional Sign Language Interpreter, having interpreted well over 100 shows including the upcoming Broadway Revival of Pippin

Christopher Sidoli: Christopher E. Sidoli grew up in Connecticut and began pursuing music at the age of 16. He attended Skidmore College as Filene Scholar where he studied opera and vocal performance under Anne Turner. Christopher has lit up Off-Broadway in The Awesome 80's Prom (swing in the original cast), June Again (EST), and The Children of Children (Merkin Hall). Around the world, he has entertained audiences in the National/International tour of Cats 25th Anniversary (Gus/Growltiger/Bustopher Jones) and in Regional productions of The Secret Garden (Archibald Craven), Side Show (Terry), Kiss of the Spiderwoman (Gabriel), and Closer than Ever (Man 1).  He is one of the creators and performers of Mama and Her Boys (currently running at the Underground in NYC). Last Summer he performed a successful one man concert in Provincetown, Massachusetts called Look to the Stars which is soon to be reprised.

Sunday
Jan272013

George Takei: TEDxBroadway, Star Trek, Allegiance Interview

Adam Rothenberg and George TakeiGeorge Takei as "Captain Sulu"Recognized worldwide as a member of the original Star Trek cast, George Takei is best known for his portrayal of "Mr. Sulu" in the acclaimed television and film series. George's acting career has spanned more than five decades between film, television, and theatre. 

 

 

This Monday, January 28, George will be a featured speaker at TEDxBroadway, a day-long event beginning where the sold out 2012 TEDxBroadway left off, bringing together some of the most passionate and influential people in academics, entertainment, marketing and media to answer the question: "What’s the best that Broadway can be: on stage, as an important neighborhood in New York City and in terms of its cultural impact on the world?" On January 28, at New World Stages in NYC (340 West 50th Street) hear George, Daryl Roth, Rasputina, David Sabel, Ellen Isaacs, Adam Thurman, Seth Pinsky, Thomas Schumacher, Randi Zuckerberg, Terry Teachout, Christine Jones and Josh Harris all speak about "What's the best that Broadway can be." Tickets are $100 and can be purchased by clicking here!

George is also promoting his new book Oh Myyy! There Goes The Internet and gearing up for the Broadway bow of his new musical Allegiance that just enjoyed a record-breaking run at the Old Globe in San Diego, CA this past September. Allegiance is scheduled to hit Broadway in the fall of 2013.

For more on George be sure to visit http://www.georgetakei.com and follow him on Facebook,Twitter, and Pinterest!

George Takei as "Mr. Sulu" on "Star Trek"1. You have had such an illustrious career between film, television, and stage. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was a performer from as far back as I can remember. My mother used to tell her friends I made my theatrical debut in the maternity ward. When I was a kid, my parents would have guests come over, and this dancing, bouncing, singing show-off kid would come in and say "I learned 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' today, would you like me to do it for you?" I was always a performer. I didn't suddenly become one by an inspiration.

I do, however, have people who inspired me. The first feature film I was cast in was while I was still a student at UCLA in the Theatre Arts Department. I was in cast in the movie Ice Palace, based upon Edna Ferber's epic novel about Alaska, and the stars were Richard Burton (the great Shakespearean star from England) and Robert Ryan (the rugged broad-boned frontiersman). Richard Burton was a true inspiration, especially after I met him. I had already been inspired by him from his other movies and his Shakespearean background. When I met him, we were on location, two weeks on location in Alaska and then two months back at the studio. For a young kid, a student no less, to be thrown into that kind of situation, was a heady experience. To get to work with this legendary Shakespearean actor from England was an incredible thrill. He had that aristocratic speech and that carriage, in the way he carried himself, but he was very down to earth. I began by calling him Mr. Burton, but he insisted that I call him Richard. It was awkward for me to call him Richard and I slipped a few times and called him Mr. Burton, after he asked me to call him Richard. I was playing a character named "Wang" in the movie, a fish cannery worker in Alaska, and Richard said to me (George takes on an aristocratic accent), "If you insist on calling me Mr. Burton, I shall call you Mr. Wang. But call me Richard and I shall call you George." I finally got to calling him Richard. I was full of awe and filled with questions about his career, background, advice, and guidance. He loved talking about himself and giving advice, so we were perfectly matched. We ended up becoming great friends during filming. It was a wonderful beginning.

It's very humbling to me because there are some people who don't know who Richard Burton is today. That is a testament to the passage of time. I guess it's like when my dad, who was a big movie buff, would talk about the silent movie stars; I'd only know some of them. There's no continuity with history. I think that's why it's so important that there are people who know history, so we can all know how this society of ours came about and on whose shoulders we stand, and enjoy whatever we have to enjoy or whatever mess they created that we have to clean up.

Dr. Martin Luther King inspired me too. Growing up during the civil rights movement, I was cast in a civil rights play and we got to perform it for Dr. King, which then allowed us to meet him one on one. Collin Powel is also an inspiration to me, even though he's a Republican and I'm a Democrat. I think he represents the best of Republican thinking. I have many political figures that inspire me.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I did the reading of 8 by Dustin Lance Black out in LA last year and got to work with Brad Pitt and George Clooney. That wet my appetite to want to work with them more. I would love to work with people like that. I've also had the chance to work with Christopher Plummer when he did Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I always saw him as this Godlike figure. I had seen many of his stage productions, particularly when he did his one-man performance of Barrymore, where he played John Barrymore, and he was bigger than life. When we worked together, he became a real person for me, but there is an aura about him. He's very friendly and accessible, yet there is this dignity and sense of self-worth around him. I would love to work with him again. 

I want to work with people who have contributed to making this business as well as this art, because it is both, and you have to be savvy enough in order to get to the point where you can really be an artist. In this generation, George Clooney is more than an artist. He initiates productions, he's a producer and so he has that kind of vision, as does Brad Pitt. Christopher Plummer does too, though he's seen as an artist more, but he takes that artistry and just by his choosing to do something, he makes things happen.

George Takei at the opening of The Old Globe world premiere of "Alliegance", Photo Credit: Doug Gates3. You are going to be speaking at TEDxBroadway this Monday, January 28. What made you want to take part in this conference? Well they asked me. The more they explained to me what their vision is, the more I became interested. When one thinks of Broadway, the common thought is great American Theatre. TEDxBroadway's approach about what makes Broadway the best it can be is more than just the business that goes on in that geographic area. It's that geographic area as part of an urban center, Manhattan, and how it's shaped by, but it also can shape the course of that center. Urban planning is one of my interests.

4. What are you looking forward to most about attending TEDxBroadway yourself? To hear some of the cutting edge vision of the art of theatre, as well as the business of theatre is going to be an exciting opportunity to devour those ideas and have time to digest them as well as getting to talk to those people who are sharing those ideas.

5. What do you hope audiences come away with after hearing your specific talk? Broadway isn't perfect yet. I'm going to examine how new shows and musicals (particularly) are marketed compared to how movies are marketed by Hollywood and fully utilizing the communication medium of our time, social media. Broadway hasn't quite entered the 21st century. I'm forever identified with "boldly going where no one has gone before," that vision of our future. I'm going to persuade Broadway to fully utilize social media. Some of these new shows have to be running a long time before the general public becomes aware of it.

Hollywood builds excitement and anticipation long before it's released. I think Broadway needs to do that more because it's an investment of a lot of money as well as talent, time and energy. So many plays close early because they can't find their audience. It's so much better to invest a little energy and imagination in finding the audience before you open so they are there to sustain you until you find your audience.

Me: Some of the shows are starting to embrace social media. Once did a great campaign before it got to Broadway.

George: Yes they did. Allegiance, which is coming to Broadway next fall, used social media extensively for our run at The Old Globe in San Diego before we opened. We had an enthusiastic audience ready and waiting for us. When we opened, we opened to practically sold-out houses and after we opened, they became genuine sold-out houses, so much so, we had to turn people away. They extended our run by a week. We broke all attendance and box office records. That's what we intend to do with Broadway as well.

6. Speaking of Allegiance, what excites you about the show coming to Broadway? That I'm going to be making my Broadway debut! Right after I got my BA in Theatre (I have my Master's in Theatre as well), I lucked out and got cast in a civil rights musical in which the character was patterned after me. I was an activist in the civil rights movement, and the character was named "George." I played "George" in Fly Blackbird in Los Angeles for a year and producers from New York bought the rights to present it Off-Broadway. They told us if we came to New York and auditioned, we would be considered at the top of the list. Confident that we'd have almost a guarantee, more than a dozen of us flew to New York in the cold early December and and we auditioned at the Mark Hellinger Theatre (which is now a church). This was my first trip to the Big Apple. It was thrilling to audition for it, followed by the agony of waiting for two whole days, until the word came down that only one of us from Los Angeles was cast. And I wasn't the one. It was devastating. This was in December and it was cold, yet a magical place being right before the holidays, but that moment really made this a cold, heartless city. Ever since then, I've been determined to get on Broadway and next fall I will be.

Cast of "Allegiance" at The Old Globe Theatre7. Let's go back a little bit. How did Allegiance come to be? Allegiance was born in Broadway theatre. Brad, my husband, and I went to the theatre one night and the house only had a sprinkle of people. Two guys came and sat in front of us. I was talking with Brad and one guy recognized my voice and turned around and said, "You're George Takei aren't you?" That was Jay Kuo, our composer/lyricist and Lorenzo Thione, our book writer and producer. We chatted for a while and then the play began. At intermission we chatted some more. The play ended and we went back home thinking they are obviously passionate theatregoers. The next night we went to see the Tony Award winning musical In The Heights, we took our seats and as we were doing so, there were two arms waving at us and it was Lorenzo and Jay. We waved back, the show began, and near the end of the first act the father sings "Inutil," (meaning useless). He wants to do so much for his daughter, who's a bright girl who wants to go to college, but he can't. For some odd reason that triggered in me my memory of my father in the internment camp and his anguish as he's faced with the loyalty questionnaire, which he explained to me when I was a teenager. That father's love for his daughter and his sense of hopelessness to really help her reminded me of my father. I don't sniffle; I ball (George demonstrates his crying). Tears were cascading down my cheek and of course intermission comes and the house lights come on and Jay and Lorenzo, with their smiling faces, come over to chat with us. Jay sees me wiping the tears off my face and I told him why and that was a brief intermission conversation. After the show we went out for drinks and we talked about my family background and decided to have dinner together and that is how Allegiance was born. Jay's music is transporting. Lea Salonga, as Broadway already knows, is glorious, and Telly Leung is well known amongst Broadway people, but this show is going to make him a star.

8. What makes now the right time to bring Allegiance to the stage? I've been trying to get the story of the internment camps done for a long time. I think it's shameful that America doesn't know about the imprisonment of innocent people without due process. In our judicial system, the pillar of our judicial system is when one is arrested, they have the right to know why they are being arrested for, then they have the right to challenge that charge, and if they are found guilty, then they are imprisoned. In my case, my family was taken from our homes and brought to the internment camps when I was five just because we looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. There were no charges. It was a big violation of our constitutional rights. Yet Americans don't know about it. So, now is not the time to bring this story to the stage. It should have been known from 1950s on. Because our history books have been quiet about it, no one has taken the initiative to really explore it, but there are some academics who have written some books on it and some documentaries have been made. There have been some attempts in film, but they were bad attempts. For instance, that wonderful novel Snow Falling on Cedars was made into a movie. This girl in the book is an American. She speaks without an accent, she moves like an American, and she was born and raised in America. For the film, they cast an actress from Japan who has that Japanese body gesture and a heavy Japanese accent. To cast a Japanese actress as a Japanese American was very insulting. It showed the director and producer did not understand what the internment was about.

In Allegiance, we tell the story as truthful as we can. The story needs to be known by as many informed and educated Americans as possible. We tell the story of how this unconstitutional act fractured the Japanese American culture and sometimes split families apart. It's one family's story we dramatize and where better to tell this story than on the biggest and most important stage in America...Broadway. That's our goal.

George Takei in kindergarten in the Rohwer Arkansas internment camp, Photo courtesy of www.georgetakei.com9. I do have a few questions about your time in the internment camps, if you are comfortable talking about it.

George: Mmhmm.

Me: You were four when that happened?

George: I had just turned five. I was four when Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Me: At that time, were you aware of what was happening? My memories are a child's memory. I didn't understand what it was all about. I remember seeing the two soldiers with bayonets flashing in the sunlight come up our driveway, stomp on our front porch and bang on the door and order us out. I remember being loaded onto a truck where other Japanese American families had gathered. My father told us we were going on a long vacation to a place called Arkansas. I thought, "A vacation? How great!" Arkansas sounded so exotic. I thought it was going to be wonderful. I know about vacations. Our parents took us to San Diego for vacation and it was a lot of fun. So when we were loaded on the truck, I wondered why all these people were so sad. When we got to the camps, there were sentry towers with machine guns pointed at us and barbed wire fences around us, but to me, I thought it was just all part of the scenery. When I made the midnight trips from our barracks to the latrine, searchlights had followed me. For my parents that was very nerve-racking, but for me, I just thought they were lighting my way. I was five, I didn't know.

More of my fun memories were catching pollywogs in the creek, seeing my first snow, throwing snowballs at my dad and brother, and making snowmen and forts with them. I remember celebrating Christmas in the camps. I knew what Christmas should be like because before the war, my mother would take me to department stores and sit on Santa's lap. So, we were told that Santa was going to visit us in the mess hall, where we had our meals. They decorated the hall with Christmas ornaments and we were to wait for Santa's arrival. He was supposed to get there around 7:30pm or 8pm. He didn't come on time and I remember thinking, "Maybe he couldn't get past the barbed wire fence." Then, suddenly, we heard this great big "Ho, ho, ho" and Santa arrived with this great big bag and I immediately knew he was a fake because I remembered Santa from the department stores. This Santa had a Japanese face and I knew what Santa really looked like. My brother and sister were so excited about Christmas that I didn't want to ruin it for them by telling them that he was a fake so I played along for their sake. Those are the memories I have. They are very different than my parent's memories.

When I became a teenager, I started reading history books and I couldn't reconcile what the books were telling me what happened with my own memories. So, I engaged my father in long conversations about it after dinner. The civil rights movement, which I was very involved in, was happening during my teenage years. I asked my dad, why didn't he protest about what was happening. I had said to him, if it were me, I would have gathered my friends and done just that. My father said to me, "If I had been single at the time, I might have protested, but I was responsible for you, your mother, and your siblings. He asked me, "If I had protested and they shot me, what do you think would have happened to you, your mother, and your siblings?" I got an adult perspective and understanding from my father's side of what was happening.

George Takei on "Star Trek"10. You are known for playing "Mr. Sulu" on Star Trek. Looking back, what was the best part about being on The Enterprise? There were two best parts about being on Star Trek. One was the vision that Gene Roddenberry infused into the show. That vision was to look to the human future as a good one, where we face challenges confident of our ability to solve problems, to be inventive, and overcome whatever challenge we have and to go on to meet new challenges. Gene said the Starship Enterprise was a metaphor for Starship Earth and the strength of its starship was to find the strength in our diversity. I was very proud to be part of this vision and to be identified with it. The second best part about being on Star Trek was my colleagues. They have become lifelong friends over the years. When Brad and I got married Walter Koenig ("Pavel Chekov") was our best man. For a woman, the traditional term is "Matron of Honor." We asked Nichelle Nichols ("Uhura") to serve as Matron of Honor, but she didn't like to be called Matron. She said, "If Walt is going to be the best man, why can't I be the 'Best Lady'?" So she was the Best Lady. Leonard Nemoy ("Spock") is a dear friend who has presented me with various awards over the years and has traveled to numerous cities to present them to me. Jimmy Doohan ("Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott") and DeForest Kelley ("Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy") have passed, but Jimmy was my drinking buddy and I learned a lot from him. DeForest was a sweet guy and a very private guy. He didn't attend many of the conventions because crowds terrified him. I feel very blessed to have these friendships.

George Takei as "Mr. Sulu" fencing on "Star Trek"10a. What did you identify most with about "Mr. Sulu"? I always tried to add more definition and dimension to him, but when you have seven regulars, it's very hard to do. "Sulu" was very disciplined. He was professional, knew his job, was ambitious, and he admired "Captain Kirk," who was his role model. "Sulu" had aspirations. That's what I tried to get in the character. I kept suggesting to Gene and the writers to humanize "Sulu" a bit more, let's give him a family. The only time I got to do this was when I got to take off my shirt and demonstrate my fencing powers. 

What I identify with "Mr. Sulu" are his ambition, professionalism, discipline, and being the best helmsman in Starfield (and this at a time when Asians had the stereotype of being terrible drivers, I showed them [laughs]). "Sulu" was the best driver in all of the galaxies [laughs].

10b. What has it been like to have such a legion of fans support you throughout your career? The Star Trek fans are amazing people. They are so dedicated, so tenacious, and so very supportive. The year 2013 is the 47th year of Star Trek. We went on the air for the first time in 1966. We lasted only three seasons, despite the fact we announced at the beginning we were on a five-year mission, more destructive than the Klingons were the executives at NBC [laughs]. Despite that beginning, the people who discovered us, kept supporting us, writing letters, urging TV execs to bring Star Trek back. When we went into syndication, the ratings soared because it was programmed at a much more accessible time. (The third season we were on Friday nights at 10pm, also known as the morgue hour). But when the ratings soared, they considered reviving us as early as 1974. We got the date we were going to start filming, but it wasn't until Star Wars became a smash hit at the box office that Paramount decided to really revive Star Trek as a feature film. Then we had spin-off shows: Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. No other show has enojyed this kind of life. After Gene passed away, J.J. Abrams came on board, and revitalized Star Trek yet again. This May another new Star Trek film is coming out. I'm sure three years from now there will be another Star Trek movie because that will be our 50th Anniversary.

The fans are the ones that created this phenomenon. So I do as many Star Trek conventions as I can because I think it's important to say to them personally, "Thank You for the incredible, amazing life you have given us." Gene Roddenberry created us, but this phenomenon has been created by the fans. We have lived much longer than we ever expected. That Vulcan greeting has come true...we have lived long and prospered.

11. You are also very big in social media with Facebook and Twitter, which tie into your new book Oh Myyy! There Goes The Internet. What made you want to start using this media format? How do you feel social media has enhanced the entertainment industry? Brad and I have invested in other plays that just didn't market their show like a movie does before it opens. So, with the birth of Allegiance, I thought, let's show Broadway how it should be done. That's what initiated my use with Facebook and Twitter and once again, those wonderful Star Trek fans took to my pages. Since they were my core base, I started talking about Star Trek and making some funny commentaries about Science (geeks and nerds are into all that) and I got a lot of "Likes" and "Shares" on the funny commentaries. I started to see a trend and I started to put funny pictures up and that got a huge amount of "Likes" and "Shares." Then I started posting those funny pictures regularly and my audience grew and grew. This made me feel comfortable enough to start talking about LGBT equality. Then my audience grew some more with a whole new group of people, with some overlap (a lot of geeks and nerds are gay and they talked to their gay non-geek/nerd friends and they started following me). Then I started talking about the internment of Japanese Americans and some of the geeks and nerds came on board and they talked to their Japanese American friends and that audience grew. It's astounding how there is that growth and that reach.

The other part of social media is all these fans talk amongst themselves. Then they come to me as friends and they bring their friends along and the growth is exponential. Now I can talk about internment and some of them will go off to do their own research, but that can then move into talking about this new musical Allegiance, from the story to the glorious music. We are trying to secure our box office success from the beginning and then once they are inside the theatre, I know we will have artistic success.

George Takei in NOH8 Campaign, Photo Credit: Adam Bouska12. I admire that you advocate for many causes that are close to you, especially the LGBT community. In 2005, you officially came out of the closet to the public. What made then the right time for you to do this? The press always calls your "official coming out" when you talk to the press, but actually, I've been out long before, but quietly. The process is ongoing...first to your family, then to your close friends, then if you feel confident enough, to a larger circle of friends. I was out to most of my professional colleagues, but silently. You work with some people for weeks on end and Friday night you have the wrap party with the pizza and beer and people bring their husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, and I might come with a guy friend. The second time there is another guy friend and the third time another guy friend and basically they think "Oh George...hmmm," but it's not spoken about. Then I started bringing the same guy and they are like mhmmm. The first time I realized my coworkers knew about me was when I went to the set one morning to get my make-up done and I was hanging around the coffee urn, chit-chatting with Walter Koenig and all of a sudden he starts making the head gesture for me to turn around, to look where the extras were gathering. I turned around and right behind me was this stunningly good looking guy wearing that tight Starfleet uniform, with a fantastic build, flashing blue eyes and jet black hair. I drank that in and I turned back around to Walter grinning and Walter winks at me and that's when I knew he knew and I appreciated it. It was never spoken about becuase they were sophisticated people and they knew in Hollywood if word got out, your career would be over. Walter just wanted to let me know that he knew and that was alright with me.

Photo Credit: PicBadges.com12a. How did it feel to come out to the press? How do you feel it has enhanced your life? Well, it was anger that made me talk. In 2005, something historic happened in California. A few states had marriage equality, which came through the judicial route. Never, in any of the states that had marriage equality did it come through the Legislative route. For the first time, both houses of the California Legislative, the Senate and the Assembly, passed the same-sex marriage bill. All that was required for that to become the rule of the state was the signature of our governor, who happened to be, Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he ran for office, he campaigned to the LGBT community, "I'm from Hollywood, I've worked with gays and lesbians, and some of them are my best friends." The feeling was he was going to be supportive. I thought he was going to sign the bill, but he was a Republican, and he played to his Republican base, and vetoed the bill. That night I was watching TV and I saw all these young people pouring out onto Sana Monica Blvd and expressing their anger. I shared their anger with them, but I was at home with Brad, comfortably watching it on TV. I knew at that moment that I had to speak out. For me to do that, my voice had to be authentic. I spoke to just one journalist and that made it easier for me. That was deemed as my coming out, but it was Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto that made me decide to publicly talk to the press for the first me.

Me: I think it's great that you did because I feel it helps a lot of young people who are struggling with coming out. They see someone who's successful and has so much going for him and who happens to be gay. It shows them that they can have a real complete life. You and Brad have been together for 25 years now and it really shows them you can have everything everyone else has and it just happens to be two guys.

Photo Credit: Toyo Miyatake Studio Toyo Miyatake Studio

George: Well, we don't have everything yet, but advances are being made. Four years ago when we elected the first African American president, California had a heartbreak that same night when Prop 8 was passed. That election was bittersweet. It was wonderful. It was historic that an African American won as President of the United States, but on that same ballot was Prop 8 and it passed by a sliver of a margin. Four years later we had four marriage equality bills on the ballot in four different states in that election last November. The amazing thing that happened that election night was not only did Obama, our first African American President get re-elected, but we won all four states, three marriage equality bills and the fourth was stopping the attempt to add to the constitution of Minnesota that marriage equality would be bad. Just earlier this week, for the first time ever the President's inaugural address included the gay community when he said, "It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law -- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well." I think great things are going to happen this summer when the Supreme Court hears the two bills: the challenge to Prop 8 and the challenge of DOMA. Prop 8 has already been ruled unconstitutional by the Federal District Court and Circuit Appellate Court. We are sure Prop 8 is going down. I am the optimist; I think we will get rid of DOMA. Amazing things are happening and it is changing and that should give us the confidence to continue to break down all the laws to equality.

George and Brad Takei on "The Newlywed Game"13. What was it like when you and Brad were invited onto The Newlywed Game as their first gay couple? That was fun, but what was really a breakthrough was when I served as President Clinton's appointee on the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, and while I was serving on the commission, the Prime Minister of Japan made a state visit to Washington DC. The President and First Lady Clinton hosted a State dinner for the Japanese Prime Minister and we, Brad and I, received an invitation. There we were at this dinner, dressed up amongst all these dignitaries, and when it came our turn to be announced for the welcoming line, they said Mr. George Takei and Mr. Brad Altman. I don't know whether this was a first time or not that at Mr. & Mr. were introduced to the President of the United States, but it was thrilling nonetheless. We hope to be there for another State dinner when the President and the First Gentleman are introduced to us [laughs].

BONUS QUESTIONS:

14. There are some celebrities have not been able to handle the success and fame they've had. How have you been able to stay grounded and continued to have such success? I have taken to heart that Star Trek mission statement, "To boldly go where no man has gone before." I like new challenges and new opportunities to contribute to society. When I'm doing advocacy for LGBT equality, generally, when I go on speaking engagements to universities or corporations or government agencies, there are kindred souls there already, whether they are LGBT themselves or friends of LGBT people or those people who are open minded. In order to bring about real change, we need to get to the broad middle that's made up of decent fair-minded people, who in their daily course of working keeps them from thinking about issues other than what their personal issues are. They're decent people, but if they should be confronted with a situation or ballot measure, they are going to be fair about. We've got to get them thinking and find that group of people. Brad is addicted to The Howard Stern Show. I'm not, I wasn't. Brad said a lot Stern's listeners are good people, but some of them say homophobic things. They don't think about the issues because they are not personal to them. We've got to reach those people. Brad urged me to go on Howard Stern, so I "boldly went" and I discovered Howard to be a good guy. He's one of those decent, fair-minded people. His cache is making outrageous statements or doing outrageous things, but he's a keen interviewer. When he smells hyprocrisy or evasion, he hones in on that. If he can't get an honest answer from this way, he'll get it from this side, or this side, or if he still doesn't get the honest answer he's looking for, he'll go this way (as if pointing to someone's behind) [laughs]. He'll "boldly go" wherever to get the truth. Going on his show allowed me to humanize what it means to be gay. I gave a face to what it means to be gay. I reach a whole new audience. Life is more interesting when you make those discoveries with people like Howard. So taking on new adventures keep me grounded.

Original cast of "Star Trek"15. What's the best advice you've ever received? My father gave me a lot of advice, but the best advice he gave me was what made me be an activist and engaged in the political process. When I was a teenager and we had those discussions about the Japanese American internment, he said, "Both the strength and the weakness of American Democracy is in the fact that it is a people's Democracy and it can be as great as the people can be, but it's also as fallible as people are. So our Democracy is dependent on good people and by good people, he meant, people who are informed, rational, who don't panic into hysteria, who are actively engaged in the political process, and be there to keep the ideals of our system on a straight line."

More on George:

George received a star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame in 1986 and he placed his signature and handprint in the forecourt of the landmark Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood in 1991. He has more than 40 feature films and hundreds of television guest-starring roles to his credit.

It began in the summer of 1957, between his freshman and sophomore years at the University of California at Berkeley, when George answered a newspaper advertisement placed by a company casting voices for a motion picture. The film was Rodan, a Japanese science-fiction classic about a prehistoric creature terrorizing a southern Japanese city. In a sound stage on the MGM lot in Culver City, Calif., George dubbed the original Japanese lines into English, creating distinct voices for eight characters.

George's professional acting debut occurred on a 1959 episode of the pioneering live television drama series, Playhouse 90. His motion picture debut was in Ice Palace starring Richard Burton, released by Warner Bros. in 1959. His other films include six Star Trekmotion pictures (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryStar Trek V: The Final FrontierStar Trek IV: The Voyage HomeStar Trek III: The Search for Spock,Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanStar Trek: The Motion Picture), Larry CrowneThe Great Buck HowardThe Red Canvas, You Don't Mess With the ZohanNinja CheerleadersDC 9/11: Time of CrisisThe Green BeretsMajority of OneNew World Order aka Noon Blue ApplesWho Gets the House?TrekkiesThe Best Bad ThingPatient 14Chongbal aka VanishedLive by the FistBug BustersKissinger and NixonPrisoners of the Sun aka Blood OathReturn From the River KwaiRed Line 7000Never So FewWalk Don't RunAn American DreamP.T. 109OblivionThe LoudmouthWhich Way to the Front?Bicycle Built for Three, and Hell to Eternity.

In addition to his role in the original Star Trekseries, other television appearances include Celebrity ApprenticeEllen: The Ellen DeGeneres ShowLate Show with David LettermanConan,The Wendy Williams Show,True JusticeThe Big Bang TheoryCommunityThe Tonight Show with Jay LenoSuite Life on DeckParty DownI'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!Late Late Show With Craig FergusonLate Night with Conan O'BrienHeroes, Secret Talents of the StarsWanna Bet?Thank God You're HereThe Bronx Bunny Show,Jimmy Kimmel Live!Cory in the HousePsych,Comedy Central Roast of William ShatnerWill & GraceMalcolm in the MiddleFreddieScrubs3rd Rock From the SunMurder She WroteWatching EllieGrosse PointeEarly EditionDiagnosis MurderThe Young and the RestlessAlienatedIn the House, John Woo's Once a ThiefHomeboys in Outer SpaceMuppets Tonight,Brotherly LoveMission: ImpossibleTwilight ZonePerry MasonHallmark Hall of FameMiami ViceI SpySon of the BeachMarcus Welby, M.D., Hawaiian EyeHawaii Five-OIronsideKung FuMr. NovakMr. RobertsThe Six Million Dollar ManVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wackiest Ship in the ArmyDeath Valley Days,Baa Baa Black SheepBracken's WorldCombatChico and the ManGeneral HospitalThe Courtship of Eddie's FatherMacGyverCaliforniansChrysler TheatreU.S. Steel HourMy Three Sons, and many others.

George Takei voiced Akira, the sensei of a karate dojo and the owner of a sushi restaurant, Photo Credit: Harrison/GettyGeorge is always in demand as a vocal artist. Among his credits is a music industry accolade -- in 1987, George and Leonard Nimoy shared a Grammy Award nomination for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (cassette) in the "Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Recording" category. George's distinctive voice is heard in The National Parks: America's Best Idea, a six-episode series directed by Ken Burns and written and co-produced by Dayton Duncan that aired on PBS in the fall of 2009. George's voice was featured in two episodes of George Lucas' cartoon version of Star Wars: The Clone Wars airing on the Cartoon Network in January 2009 as well as in Walt Disney Pictures' full-length animated features, Mulan and Mulan IIStar Trek audio novel recordings, Fox Television's The SimpsonsFuturamaAdventure Time, and in numerous voice-overs and narrations.

Widely recognized for his vocal talents, George has been a guest narrator with numerous symphony orchestras. In February 2012, George narrated A Survivor from Warsaw with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Philip Mann. He narrated Sci-Fi Spectacular with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in June 2012, Toronto Symphony Orchestra in May 2012, Detroit Symphony Orchestra in March 2012, Kansas City Symphony in January 2012, Naples (Florida) Philharmonic Orchestra in January 2011, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in July 2010, Cleveland Orchestra in August 2009, Ottawa Symphony Orchestra in April 2009, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in January 2009, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in January 2008, and Seattle Symphony in September 2007. All "Sci-Fi" concerts were conducted by Jack Everly. George narrated Look to the Future with the San Francisco Symphony in July 2009. In February 2008, George hosted To Boldly Go with the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Sarah Hatsuko Hicks. In November 2004, George narrated Copeland's Lincoln Portrait with the Honolulu Symphony conducted by Samuel Wong. He has narrated Johan de Meij's Symphony No. 1: The Lord of the Rings with the Springfield, Mass., Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kevin Rhodes as well as with the Long Island Philharmonic, Denver Symphony Orchestra, Orange County California Wind Orchestra, and the Imperial Symphony Orchestra of Lakeland, Florida, all conducted by David Warble.

Serving as co-hosts, George and actor-comedian Margaret Cho provide the narration for the 2006 Peabody Award-winning Crossing East, a radio documentary produced by Dmae Roberts divided into eight hour-long installments that trace the history of Asian American immigration to the United States.

In October 2007, an asteroid was named in honor of George. The asteroid's official, scientific name is 7307 Takei. The name was approved by the International Astronomical Union's Committee on Small Body Nomenclature. The asteroid is located between Mars and Jupiter and is approximately 5 miles in diameter.

George Takei on The Howard Stern ShowGeorge is a regular guest on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius XM Radio. George was the announcer and on-air personality during Stern's debut week in January 2006. George has made in-studio appearances on the show in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

George is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Actors' Equity Association, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Screen Actors Guild, which he joined in January 1959. He is also part of The Equal Employment Opportunities Committees of Actors' Equity Association and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee of Screen Actors Guild, awarded George the 7th annual Ivy Bethune Tri-Union Diversity Award in June 2009.

Publicity photo for the play "Undertow" by Shimon Wincelberg, Edinburgh, Scotland 1988, Photo courtesy of www.georgetakei.comGeorge's theatrical credits include Shimon Wincelberg's Undertow, winner of the Scotsman First Award at the Edinburgh Festival, andThe Wash, written by Philip Kan Gotanda and presented in New York at the Manhattan Theater Club and in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum. He performed in Frank Chin'sYear of the Dragon at the American Place Theater in New York and in Fly Blackbird! at the Billy Rose Theater in New York and the Metro Theater in Los Angeles. George played in a musical version of Snow White at the Dome Theater in Brighton, England, and was the genie in Aladdin at the Hexagon Theatre in Reading, England. George starred in Peter Shaffer's Equus, directed by Tim Dang, at East West Players in Los Angeles, in 2005. Also in the theatrical arena, George appeared in The Human Race Theatre Company concert production of Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures at the Loft Theatre in Dayton, Ohio, in June 2002. More recently, George played the "Emperor of China" in a holiday pantomime production of Aladdin at The Central Theatre in Chatham, England. In March 2012, George performed in an all-star reading and Los Angeles premiere of 8, a play written by Dustin Lance Black and directed by Rob Reiner, at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. The fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights raised $2 million for AFER's fight for the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian Americans.

George Takei, Lea Salonga, and Telly Leung at the Old Globe World Premiere of "Allegiance", Photo Credit: Doug Gates George and Tony Award winner Lea Salonga just developed the new musical called Allegiance (music and lyrics by Jay Kuo, book by Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione). The musical is an epic story of love, family and heroism during the Japanese American internment. Allegiance's world premiere at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego in September 2012 broke box office and attendance records. A Broadway run will take place in the Fall of 2013.

In addition to his acting career, George always has been extremely involved in civic affairs. Along with actress Beulah Quo, George produced and hosted a public affairs show, Expression East/West, which aired on KNBC-TV in Los Angeles from 1971 to 1973. Always a political activist, George ran for the Los Angeles City Council in 1973, losing by a small percentage. At a crossroads, he had to decide whether to pursue a political career or an acting career. He decided on acting, but to remain involved in civic affairs to whatever extent he could. George was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley to the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, serving from 1973 to 1984. George was one of the driving forces behind the Arts in Transit program in which every Metro Rail subway station is given its own distinctive look, thereby fostering neighborhood pride. He also served as a vice president of the American Public Transit Association. In the international arena, George was appointed by President Clinton to the board of the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, where he served two terms. He is a member of the board of directors of the US-Japan Bridging Foundation. The Government of Japan recognized George's contribution to the Japan-United States relationship by giving him the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette. The decoration was conferred by His Majesty, Emperor Akihito, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in November 2004.

George Takei at the LA HRC DinnerBrad and George Takei Wedding, Photo Credit: Toyo Miyatake Studio Toyo Miyatake StudioA member of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender political organization, George was a spokesman for HRC's Coming Out Project. In April 2006, he embarked on a nationwide speaking tour called "Equality Trek" in which he talked about his life as a gay Japanese American. Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy presented George with HRC's Equality Award at its San Francisco gala dinner in July 2007. George and his husband, Brad Takei, are residents of Los Angeles. They met while running with the Los Angeles Frontrunners in the early 1980s. Life partners for more than two decades, they were married on September 14, 2008, in the Democracy Forum of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. By a narrow margin, California voters approved Proposition 8 on November 4, 2008, restricting marriages in California to opposite-sex couples. However, the California Supreme Court ruled that approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place during a four-and-one-half month period prior to November 4, 2008, remain legally valid. On October 13, 2009, George and Brad made television history when they became the first gay couple to be invited to appear on The Newlywed Game, the long-running show now airing on GSN cable network. They won the game, earning a $10,000 donation for the Japanese American National Museum.

Monday
Jan212013

John Behlmann: The Steadfast Interview

From theatre to film to television, John Behlmann does it all. He has delighted audiences on stage in Broadway's Tony Award winning revival of Journey's End, Off-Broadway's The 39 Steps, Ghosts, Wild Animals You Should Know, and regional productions of Betty's Summer Vacation, As You Like It, The Glass Menagerie, the world premiere of Bill Pullman's Expedition 6, Doubt, Measure for Measure, A Christmas Carol, A Flea in Her Ear, and The Madwoman.

John's film and television credits include Revolutionary Road, Pretty Bird, Unstoppable, The Good Wife, 3 lbs., recurring roles on All My Children & The Guiding Light, and the voice of "Neptulon" in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. He is also the national spokesperson for Edge Shave Gel and Dairy Queen.

Photo Credit: Gregg Le BlancIn addition to performing, John is the Co-Artistic Director of NYC's aerial theatre company "Fight or Flight" that explores classical and original texts by performing them not only on the ground but also up in the air, on the low-flying trapeze. 

John has written several original web series for CBS.com including "Heckle U" and "Dudes" and served as a regular writer for the long-running Webby-nominated series "Wallstrip." He has had a number of his one-act plays produced in New York, Denver, and Washington D.C.

Now, John is taking to the stage once again in Slant Theatre Project's production of Mat Smart's The Steadfast. This gripping new play that looks at eight U.S. soldiers across the sweep of American history – from theRevolutionary War to the War in Afghanistan – and the common thread that connects them across continents and centuries. The Steadfast is inspired by Mr. Alpert’s Legacy painting (which can be viewed at: http://www.stevealpertart.com/2010/10/20/a-painting-called-legacy/)

The Steadfast runs through February 3 at TBG Theatre (312 West 36th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on John follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? It wasn't a natural course for me. I did a lot of theatre and speech and debate in junior high and high school, but it wasn't a career decision for me until way later in life. It wasn't something I grew up wanting to do. My family had very "Fisher Price Jobs," jobs you understand like lawyer, doctor, businessman, etc. I wasn't in that world of wanting to be a professional actor. I went to college and did theatre, but I majored in Politcal Science and French. There was this one time someone assumed, during a play, that I was going to be a professional actor and treated me as such and that was when the idea first entered my mind that being an actor was a career possibility. While I applied to grad school and got in, I quickly learned acting was something that I wanted to do full time and so I spent a lot of time around professional actors and saw they were regular people and not just people on TV who live in far away places that you'll never ever meet. It was at the point my career as an actor began. I'm very glad I chose this path. Being an actor allows me to dabble in a variety of jobs with the roles I play.

Photo Credit: Eric Laurits2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? So many people...Julie Taymor and Joe Mantello are two directors I'd love to work with. There are a lot of actors I'd love to work with, but there are also people I'd like to work with again. There are those people I've been with in a workshop or full production that I just didn't get to spend enough time with and I feel our paths will cross again. I think that's a great way to guide a career. You've worked with someone once by circumstance and then you maybe get the chance to go work with them again and you think oh yeah, that's the one I want to continue to work with. People like that for me are Mariah Aiken. I would do anything she does because I adore her.

3. What attracted you to "The Steadfast"? This kind of ties into the previous question. The people mostly attracted me. I've known the founders of Slant Theatre project Wes Grantom, Adam Knight, Mat Smart, and Matt Dellapina for a while. Wes and I go back to High School, even though we didn't go to the same high school. When I got to NY, Wes was already here and I did an early show with Slant called "The Obstruction Plays" in fall of 2006ish. It was group of young actors that all just got out of grad school who now have these crazy careers. They were one of my first introductions to NY theatre and that work led to so many things that I feel like I owe them a lot and would do almost anything they asked me to be in.

4. What do identify most with about your characters? The show was inspired by this painting by Steve Alpert and it's about all these soldiers in various years of American conflict. Everybody has a main soldier they play, but everyone has other parts in the show too. My main character is "Aaron," this young guy/kid who is in the Vietnam War era and trying to doge the draft with his friends by going to Canada. Out of the three guys he goes with, "Aaron" is the one who decides to go back and not dodge the draft. The thing I identify the most with is this character's first adult decision. I remember making a choice that you have to think hard about and it not being the popular choice. It kind of reminds me of the time I was in high school and it came time for Confirmation and we went through this whole process to get me to Confirmation, but I was not enjoying it, so I made the decision, much to the dismay of many family members, to not go through with getting Confirmed. That was an important and hard thing to do. 

5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I hope that audiences will come away with a better understanding of what may make someone decide to get involved in a war, whether it be in combat or another capacity.

John Behlmann in "Betty's Summer Vacation", Photo Credit: Jerry LamonicaDaniel Stewart Sherman, Gideon Glick, John Behlmann, Patrick Breen, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Photo Credit: Joan Marcus6. In addition to seeing you soon in "The Steadfast," I've had the pleasure of seeing you in "Betty's Summer Vacation" at Bay Street Theatre and "Wild Animals You Should Know." What did you enjoy most about starring in these two productions? What do you look for in a character when auditioning for a role? There seems to be a theme in my answers. Both those shows were all about the people. I didn't really know anyone going into "Betty's Summer Vacation," but I auditioned and got the part. Because of the environment of the show, getting to do this play out in Sag Harbor on Long Island for the summer, which is already great no matter what because you are by the beach in the summer. Aside from that it was the most wonderful group of actors and people I have worked with. I had the greatest time doing that show. I became friends with Veanne Cox, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Bobby Steggert, Heidi Schreck and all these great people that were there doing this play. It was great getting to know Trip Cullman who directed "Betty's Summer Vacation," because he got me into "Wild Animals You Should Know," which Trip also directed. He just assembles the greatest people to work with. I did these two plays on the heels of each other and that was a great balance. "Betty's Summer Vacation" was so ridiculous that it was nice to get to do "Wild Animals You Should Know" which had more emotional content behind it.

As far as what I look for in a part, I feel it's all about having balance in your career. It's so timing dependent. I don't have dream roles I long to play, I mean, maybe I do, but I don't know what they are yet. It's more about where I am at in my life. Parts that were not interesting to me two years ago are now interesting to me because of my life experience. When I see a role I can present some kind of unique point of view about or perspective or that relates to me in some way, that's the kind of role I go for. I've had to turn down auditions because while they look good on paper, they don't feel like the right part for me. 

Trapeze performance at STREB NYC, Photo credit: Jonathan Koifman7. You are one of the founders of Flight or Fight Theater. What made you want to start your own theatre company? What has been the most rewarding part of this venture? Flight or Fight Theater is a trapeze theater company. We didn't set out to form a theater company. We were just a group of actors who were trained in trapeze. Traditionally aerial shows involve a lot of tricks, but we started doing these aerial shows of telling stories while on the trapeeze, using it as an interesting abstract to the staging. We did a retelling of Top Gun in about 10 minutes. We also did Richard II and Henry V. Those are the moments to speak of, when you are in a room with your friends, but also artists you respect and get to make something special and walk away knowing you created that thing from the ground up is tremendously rewarding experience every time. The main draw of this profession to get to work with the people you want to on projects that speak to you. It's not get rich or have the most convenient life all the time.

8. You have also been the face of many commercials: Dairy Queen, DISH Network, and Edge Shaving Gel. What do you enjoy about filming commercials over theatre, a TV series or film? I think I have been lucky in my commercial life to not only book them, but to do awesome commercials. I've had things that were tremendously fun to do. I filmed 14 Dairy Queen commercials in 9 days and it was the greatest two weeks of my life. I got to do a variety of things...sword fighting, kicked through a plate glass window, water skiing, met Mary Lou Retton, and held a live falcon on my arm. I flew to LA for the Dairy Queen commercials; I filmed the Edge commercials in South Africa. To get to do things like that are the great moments of being an actor. The money I made from the commercials really allowed me to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to, which is so important for an actor, especially one in NY. I've been lucky that my commercials are fun. Though now I'm sure I'll book a really boring commercial that will play for years.

Me: You can blame me for that. Hahaha.

John: Good, good. I'll see if I can work in a "Thank You" into the 30-second spot. Hahaha.

Me: That would be awesome!

Dairy Queen Commerical - Falcon

Dairy Queen Commerical - Waterski Boxing

9. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse on your own? There is always something special about that first day and read through, but I'm usually nervous. I think the most fun part is a few weeks into rehearsal, right before you go into tech when you know the structure and movement and you can be free in those moments, where you can screw everything up, fall flat on your face, and be an idiot in front of your colleagues, but you've built a trust with them, so it's all okay. For previews, the first few are always a bit like a "deer in headlights," you don't know what's going to happen, but after a few of those and you know where the show is going, you can really get into it then.

I like rehearsing in my house, but I do do a lot of talking to myself on the subway. Most of my at home rehearsing is learning lines or looking at scripts, but if that can happen somewhere else, I will do it there too.

John Behlmann in "The 39 Steps" at New World Stages in NYC10. What's the best advice you've ever received? I don't know what the best advice I've ever received is because I probably haven't realized how good it was yet. Hahaha. In all seriousness, a few people have told me, in relation to this business to "Respect your champion." There are people in this career who adore and respect you and whom you adore and respect as well and if you are lucky enough to find them, you have to stick with that person. They might have a part in a show for you, even if it's a smaller role than usual, but then their next project might be a bigger role. The same thing might happen for them from you.

11. What have you learned about yourself from your various ventures? That I like to be busy. One of the things I love about acting and being in NY (specifically) is the opportunity to be in all kinds of stuff. It can allow you to be in some very rewarding stuff that gives the best expression of you, which can be very rewarding. When you commit yourself to something you really believe in, it becomes a great project. I had a knee injury a few years ago and I was laid up in my house and I made a rap music video invitation to my birthday party and it was a hit and I made another one and another one and now I've made about 5 or 6 of them and it's gotten me some of jobs, like the Dairy Queen commercials. Now, I've done rap benefits for Jack O'Brian and Julie Taymor, and now I'm doing one for Judith Light. That's just one example of how you can make yourself when you are yourself.

Behlmann Birthday Rap 2008 - The video that started it all

BONUS QUESTIONS:

12. Favorite way to spend your day off? I usually get anxious when I have a day off because I always think I have something that needs to get done, but when I have a day off, I like to try to get up early, make some coffee, be around my house for a bit, tie up some loose ends, make some breakfast, go to the gym, meet up with people, just basic simple stuff.

13. Favorite way to stay in shape? Trapeze, hands down. I do it twice a week.

14. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer-Briefs. No question about it.

15. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I would like to be able to freeze time like "Evie" on Out of This World, the 80s sitcom when she would touch her fingers together and everything stops and you can add people to be frozen in time with you. It was like the world stopped progressing, but she got to do things.

Funny Edge Shave Gel Commercial - Ready Rooms

Dish Network Spot #2 - Satellite Spot