Now Jeremy is taking center stage at Carnegie Hall on April 12 at 8pm with The New York Pops, Julia Murney, Norm Lewis, Jennifer Laura Thompson, and Judith Clurman's Essiential Voices USA to celebrate the music of the legendary Stephen Schwartz in honor of his 65th Birthday in The Wizard and I: The Musical Journey of Stephen Schwartz. Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? When I was a kid I was always a singer. I was influenced by late 80s/early 90s pop music plus my grandmother was in theatre and she kind of forced me to do a few shows when I was a kid and I think that is what got me started.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? While Steven Spielberg is the executive producer of SMASH, I would love to work with him properly as a director. I'd also like to work with Martin Scorsese. Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio have been idols of mine growing up, so it would be wonderful to have the opportunity to work with them.
3. On April 12, you will be performing with The New York Pops in The Wizard and I: The Musical Journey of Stephen Schwartz. What made you want to be part of this concert? I jumped at the opportunity when I was asked to do the concert because it's going to be a really cool event with a lot of great music. Even though I've performed at Carnegie Hall before, when I did the Tony Awards there a few years ago, I have not performed there in this capacity. Carnegie Hall is the top notch venue in New York City and I'm getting to do a few solos and belt my face off. Prior to this concert, I never had the opportunity to work with Stephen Schwartz before. I'm very honored to be able to work with him. I don't know if you've ever stood on the stage of Carnegie Hall, but there's nothing quite like it. It's so grand to look out at the audience from the stage. It's pretty incredible and I feel fortunate for this opportunity.
Me: I've never gotten to stand on the stage at Carnegie Hall, but I have watched people perform there from the audience. It is an amazing venue.
4. How has Stephen Schwartz's music influenced you and what excites you about getting to sing it? It wasn't until college that I really became educated in musical theatre. As I started studying musicals, Stephen Schwartz was one of the biggest names of the time and Wicked had just opened and I was just in awe of him and his work. He writes very inspiring music, very story-oriented, and singer friendly. You really get to show off with his music and it's always fun to do.
5. What are you looking forward to most about performing with Julia Murney, Norm Lewis, and Jennifer Laura Thompson at The New York Pops concert? I'm so excited. I am a big fan of all their voices and I have a big voice too so it certainly will be fun to have all of these powerhouses together. They are all wonderful sweet people. I think it's going to be a great mix.
Me: I agree. I've met them all and they are really nice. You are going to be in great company with them.
6. You have starred on Broadway in the revival of West Side Story, Bonnie & Clyde, and Newsies. What do you get from performing on Broadway that you do not get from your film/TV work? A lot. As a performer, stage work is much more rewarding. There is an immediacy to it, a pull and tug from the audience. You get to be present and tell a story all the way through from start to finish. In TV, it's always in chunks and there is a lot of sitting around and waiting. You don't always know what the product will look like until long, long after you're done. On stage you sort of are the final product. As an actor you seem much more in control of the situation because you are the one delivering the performance right then right there. And if you screw up, it's not really a big deal, it happens and in theatre, you can always try the next day. You aslo have more opportunity to try new things and experiment in theatre. There is just something about having an audience right there with you over a two hour period. It's very satisfying.
Me: Do you feel it gives you more energy to have an audience right there to give you that immediate feedback? Of course because then you can gauge your performance based upon audience reaction. In film/televison, it's all guess work. You just hope everybody going's to like it. Sometimes you get a lot of time to perfect your performance in film/television, but in theatre you have rehearsal time and previews to figure things out as to what works and what doesn't. Ultimately you have more time in theatre. In film, you get to show more with cool effects and you can tell a story very subtly, sometimes with just a look of your eyes, but it's definitely a filmmakers medium while theatre is more of an actor's medium.
7. You are currently starring on NBC's SMASH. What is the best part about joining the show and what do identify most with about your character "Jimmy Collins"? The best part has been going to a studio and getting to do theatre recordings and getting to showcase that part of me on television. I was little hesitant about joining the show because it was another musical project. I've done a lot of musicals on Broadway and I did Joyful Noise which was a musical movie, and I didn't want to get put in a box, but of course when you have a principal character/series regular television knocking on your doorstep, you are not going to say no. Then I thought if I can do it, why not do it and why not show my strengths in all forms, not just in acting, but in singing as well. The whole experience has been nice and the cast is great!
As for what I identify most with about "Jimmy," I would say I relate to "Jimmy's" struggles. I think he's a bit of a perfectionist and I can relate to that because I am overly critical of myself. I think "Jimmmy" is overly critical of himself, but he just doesn't like to show it to people. He doesn't want any of his work put out there unless it's what he deems to be a perfect finished product. I think it's scary for him to put things out there in the first place. I relate to that as a performer. It's hard to leave yourself open to criticism and expose yourself like that and feel vulnerable. That's what ultimately provides the most rewarding experience of the day, but it definitely is a little scary.
Me: I get that. You are putting yourself out there for everyone to make their own judgements of you.
Jeremy: I really try to not let that stuff bother me. I try to grow from every performance and I hope I'm getting better and better. I think that is something "Jimmy" is trying to learn to.
Me: I got to see you in Bonnie & Clyde, and from what I've seen from then until now, I think you are definitely growing and headed in the right direction.
Jeremy: Well Thank You, I appreciate that.
8. Speaking of Joyful Noise, which you got to star in. What did you learn from working with Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah? First of all they are just wonderful human beings. Dolly Parton is probably the kindest person I've ever met. I can say that without hesitation. These are two huge names. These women are so incredibly famous for their music and work in film and the truth of the matter is they are very humble and sweet. They get recognized everywhere they go in the world. A lot of people would not able to deal with that level of fame, but they are just so kind to everybody. It really taught me a lesson that as you get more and more recognizable, not many people get to their level, but if you do get to that level, you have to see why they got there and that is because they were very personable, nice, kind and treat people with respect.
9. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Oh gosh. I've learned a lot from being a performer. Being an actor, you are sort of a student of the human condition and you begin to notice things in other people becuase you have to play a certain character and you need to understand the reason why people are the way they are and you begin to look at yourself in a very critical way as well. I'd like to think that as I become a better actor, I become a better person because you start to understand why people do the things they do. As soon as you can understand why, you can find that within yourself and make better choices for yourself.
I really think I've learned how to be a better person from being an actor because you learn what is at the core of your good nature and you try to bring that within yourself. As an actor you see criticism very differently. You see how that criticism has a very negative effect on people. The more I see criticism or read it, the more as a person I try to find the positive with whatever it is I am seeing. If I go see a movie and didn't like it, I still try to remember the good things about it and try to keep that with me. What's the point of completely dissing something that somebody put out there. The more I read criticism about myself or other people, it makes me just want to be a positive voice in the world.
Me: I feel the same way as you. When I started my blog a little over 4 years ago, I felt there was enough negative reviews out there, so I made it a point to only write about shows and stuff I enjoy.
Jeremy: Oh that's wonderful.
Me: Thank you. You know, just because I didn't like something, it's like you said, it's not my place to trash it just because I didn't enjoy it, doesn't mean other people won't.
10. What's the best advice you've ever received? There are a few pieces of advice that have stuck with me over the years. In terms of being an actor, I'd say the best advice is just always take risks and never play it safe because you are going to fall on your face and choices are going to be wrong, but at least they are going to be interesting and be bold and it's not just going to be blah.
In terms of life, one of my teachers in college told me you can change your negative attitude with a breath. I always thought that was so hippie. Sometimes I find when I'm in a really bad mood, I try to remember that and focus all my energy breathing in positivity and breathing out all that negative energy. It's great advice.
Me: This is great advice and it's advice that I haven't gotten before, but look forward to taking with me.
11. Favorite way to spend your day off? In the sun, if it's sunny. I love hanging out with my wife and dog. Play video games or go to a movie. A day off I think should always be a day off, turning everything off and just relax.
12. Favorite way to stay in shape? Hahaha...favorite way? I hate having to stay in shape and I hate not being in shape. It's a constant battle. I kind of like doing exercise videos. I recently got into Insanity and it kicked my ass, but it's better than going to the gym.
13. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I would fly, absolutely. You can get to places so much quicker. You could go to places you would never imagine. You could go spy on people.
Me: Now that's an angle I haven't heard. I like it.
14. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer-briefs.
Jeremy is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas and studied at Ithaca College, where he earned a BFA with honors in performance theatre. In 2009, he got his Broadway start understudying the lead in the hit musical Rock of Ages. He went on to star as "Tony" in the revival ofWest Side Story and as "Clyde Barrow" in the Frank Wildhorn musical Bonnie & Clyde. Last year, Jeremy starred opposite Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton in the Todd Graff-directed Warner Bros. film Joyful Noise, and he originated the role of "Jack Kelly" in Disney's hit musical Newsies, for which he received a Tony nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical.