The first time I heard Brian Charles Rooney sing, I was mesmerized! His voice is like no other! Since then, I have seen him perform in several concerts and readings, always loving when he is on stage! My most recent time seeing Brian belt it out was last December at 54 Below during Singing Cyndi Lauper: 54 Just Wants To Have Fun! His rendition of "I Drove All Night" was unreal and then pairing him with the dynamic Molly Pope on "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" was genius!
Now, fast forward to Friday, November 6 at 9:30pm when Brian will go at it alone at Feinstein's/54 Below with his brand new show Trouble, a rich musical evening including a few gender-bending comedic moments that will leave you wondering whether or not what you’re hearing is real! Expect a theatrical mix of favorites from the canons of Broadway, popular music, and classic standards. Click here for tickets!
1. On November 6, you are returning to 54 Below with an all new show called Trouble. What are you looking forward to most about performing this show? I think that what I'm looking forward to most, aside from performing songs I've not tackled before, is interacting with the audience! There will be familiar faces, but there will also be new faces, and that's a huge thrill for me!
2. You have performed in over 30 shows at Feinstein's/54 Below. What do you enjoy most about performing there? I love the staff at the venue! As you've mentioned, I've done many shows there, so I've been able to get to know the staff pretty well. They are always incredibly supportive and kind! Then, of course, there are the people that run the venue, and help produce the shows, like Jennifer Tepper, Dylan Bustamante, KJ Hardy etc. They are all great people, and they make it easy to work there!
I think the reason that presents most prominently for me is just the ambiance the venue offers. I don't know that anyone could argue against the statement that Feinstein's/54 Below is one of the most beautiful clubs in town. There's this wonderful balance of modernity and a respect for the past in the design of the venue. I love that…Maybe it's just how I view it, but it makes performing there all the more magical.
3. Why did you call this show Trouble? Trouble can fun, it can be stimulating...It is everywhere...And it isn't always bad! In fact, I think a lot of good can come from a little bit trouble. I wanted to embrace my love for songs and characters in the American and European Song Books that might live in the dark.
4. If you could give people one reason as to why they should come see Trouble at Feinstein's/54 Below, what would that reason be? If I had to throw down a single gauntlet, it would be my voice. I've worked hard over the years to cultivate the gift I was given. I never stop challenging myself as a vocalist and an actor. Actually, I hate separating those two roles. For me, acting is singing, and vice versa.
5. Since this show is titled Trouble, what has been some times in your life when you've gotten in Trouble? What did you learn from those experiences? I have to say that I have probably witnessed more trouble, than I've caused. Well…I say that now, perhaps because I have never been caught?! My show celebrates the kind of troublemaker that makes people think in a new way, who doesn't apologize for having an opinion, or the kind that inspires people to go on an adventure...Or simply the kind that turns someone on, makes someone laugh. I've learned a lot from some famous troublemakers, and I'd like to think those lessons have made me a better man, with a sharper wit, and a greater sense of humor.
6. I've seen you perform in several concerts & think you have an unbelievably gifted voice! When did you realize you wanted to be a singer/actor? Who or what inspired you? Thank you! I didn't sing in public before doing a talent show in 8th grade, and then I did plays in high school (the person running the Drama Club didn't produce musicals because he thought they weren't "real acting;" clearly he was wrong). I saw The Phantom of the Opera as a child, and the overture made me want to do theater (don't roll your eyes, people). I studied drama at Duke University, which also has a wonderful music department, and a fantastic dance program, so I was exposed to a lot of incredible artists and potent work. I owe all the people who educated me a huge debt of gratitude for encouraging me to be an artist who refuses to be put in a box...Or as a Talent Agent might call me: Trouble. During my senior year at Duke, I played "John Wilkes Booth" in Assassins (I was definitely exploring the low end of my voice). I vividly remember the first night, during the curtain call, thinking, "it's not about the applause for me - it's about that story we just told." The show was the high; the applause meant that was over.
7. What have you learned about yourself from being a singer/actor? I've learned that I'm resilient, and that I rank honesty and loyalty highly above most values.
8. What's the best advice you've ever received? As a performer? The best advice I have received was from Petula Clark. Anyone, with whom I've worked, would tell you that I am a perfectionist, sometimes to a fault, and that I am always looking to improve. I was doing a show with Petula early in my career, and most of the other cast members would chastise me for beating myself up, if I had done something that I considered sub par. They would tell me that I needed to be less hard on myself. One night, Petula pulled me aside, and said, "You are a very special talent. Don't ever let anyone tell you to stop being a perfectionist. Just don't ever stop enjoying what you do." I'll never forget her words. I followed her advice, to be sure.
9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I'm a huge fan of comic books, and other fantasy properties. I go to San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con, so this question is a favorite of mine! I think as a kid I probably would have chosen flight…But as an adult, I think it would be a toss-up between shape shifting, and psychic abilities (mind control, telekinesis, etc.). A shape shifter is the ultimate actor!
10. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it & what ingredients would you put in it? Vodka.
11. Favorite way to stay in shape? Biking! I live close to Central Park, so I try to bike the 6 mile loop as often as I can!
12. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs. Boxers are shorts for bedtime.
Brian Charles Rooney was recently lauded by both The New York Times and Time Out NY for his performance as "Dionne Salon" in the hit Off-Broadway musical, Bedbugs!!! In a critically acclaimed performance that Entertainment Weekly said "ignited the stage," he made his Broadway debut as "Lucy Brown" in The Threepenny Opera for The Roundabout Theatre Co., co-starring Alan Cumming, Cyndi Lauper, Jim Dale, Nellie McKay, and Ana Gasteyer.
He won the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for "Best Actor in a Musical" as "Candy Darling" in Anna Jacobs & Maggie Kate Coleman's musical POP! at Yale Repertory Theatre, directed by Mark Brokaw. He has won two NY Musical Theatre Festival Outstanding Performance Awards for Bedbugs!!! (2008) & Bayonets of Angst (2014); as well as the FringeNYC Award for Outstanding Performance as "Satan" in the new rock musical, Winner Take All (2011), directed by John Carrafa.
Brian appeared with Kristin Chenoweth and composer Andrew Lippa, at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in I Am Harvey Milk, an oratorio celebrating the life of the famous activist. He has appeared as a soloist in Martin Charnin's new theatrical revue, Rodgers &..., a retrospective of Richard Rodgers' monumental body of work at the Emelin Theatre; and in the Carnegie Hall Concert Production of Guys & Dolls, starring Nathan Lane & Megan Mullally.
He was a featured soloist with UK Pop legend Petula Clark on the North America Tour of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. He received a Carbonell Award Nomination for his performance as "Homer Collins" in Floyd Collins at The Actors' Playhouse, in Coral Gables, FL; as well as a Metro-Carolina Award Nomination as "Jinx" in Forever Plaid at The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC. He played the title role in Bat Boy! The Musical at Charleston Stage Co., in Charleston, SC.
His Television credits include Camelot, Live from Lincoln Center and Sondheim! The Birthday Concert, both directed by Lonny Price for PBS at Lincoln Center.
In 2007, Brian won The Kurt Weill Foundation's Lys Symonette Award for Dramatic Excellence. He has appeared in concert at 54 Below & Joe's Pub, and as a soloist with the Oregon & Seattle Symphony Orchestras.