I am a big fan of Jonathan Tolins' Buyer & Cellar, a hilarious play about an underemployed actor working for Barbra Streisand. I have seen two different productions of it. The original New York run starring Michael Urie and then George Street Playhouse's production which starred Avenue Q's Tony nominee John Tartaglia. It is such a well written show that no matter who plays the part, it's going to be a hit! Which brings us to Trey Gerrald, who will be starring in Cape May Stage's production of Buyer & Cellar this fall. I have enjoyed seeing Trey on Netflix's Orange is the new Black and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, TV Land's Younger, the CW's The Carrie Diaries and in Zachary Halley's short film Grind.
It's so exciting to get to interview Trey about one of my favorite plays which was inspired by one of the world's greatest entertainers! Buyer & Cellar will play Cape May Stage from October 19-November 18 (405 Lafayette Street, Cape May, NJ 08204). Click here for tickets!
1. This fall you are starring in Cape May Stage's production of Buyer & Cellar, a hilarious play about an under-employed actor working in the basement of Barbra Streisand's home. What made you want to star in this show? What are you looking forward to about performing it at Cape May Stage? I was fortunate to see the original star, Michael Urie's, invited dress at the Barrow Street Theatre and was mesmerized. I suppose if I'm being completely honest, multiple times in my career I've found myself in for roles where casting is seeking a "Michel Urie type actor" so clearly I've decided to study his path. I guess on one hand that was part of it, "if I can put it on my resume, it can secure that branding for myself as a performer." But truly the reason I sought out opportunities to audition for the show is because it's an incredible challenge to play six characters in a 100 minute play, and the playwright, Jonathan Tolins, is a genius. The text is beyond hilarious while being incredibly moving and poignant.
I'm looking forward to the Cape May audiences joining me in the basement because they're a sophisticated crowd and when you're in a beach town, you're generally in the mood to laugh and have fun. Plus the victorian aesthetic of Cape May is right up Barbra's ally.
2. One of the show's bylines is "It’s an outrageous comedy about the price of fame, the cost of things and the oddest of odd jobs." What have you learned from the price of fame? What is one decision that cost you more than you ever thought it would? What is the oddest of odd jobs you've had? I'm obsessed with this question - it's hilarious that you're asking ME about the price of fame. I've worked with a few famous people and, so far, they've all been very kind. From what I can tell from observing them, the price of fame is a tremendous amount of wasted time posing in selfies with strangers.
I have actually received hard copy fan-mail (almost always from overseas) which is a beautiful juxtaposition to all the emails I send asking for auditions.
One decision that cost me more than I ever thought it would was once, after an audition I mistook the casting director opening the door for me as an invitation to hug her. This was almost three years ago and I've never auditioned for her since. Oops. (This is totally true and not a joke).
The oddest job I ever had was probably greeting very rich people entering a themed fundraiser dressed as Tom Hank's character from The Polar Express. I've still never seen the movie and the event planner was thoroughly (and aggressively) disappointed in my performance.
3. I have seen two different productions of Buyer & Cellar and think it's a strongly written show. What is your favorite part of the show? I totally agree. The more we work on it, the more I realize how smart Jonathan Tolins is. There are so many references layered throughout, but the way in which he incorporates them is so subtle and clever. I think "Fifi the Doll" is one of the most fun sections. The moment when "Alex" stands alone in the barn and spins around is my personal favorite, both as a viewer and also now doing the show.
4. Buyer & Cellar is a one-man show, so what is it like to rehearse a solo show? What do you enjoy about it being just you and the director during the rehearsal process? What do you miss about having other cast mates around? When I left the first day of rehearsal I felt like I had just placed bronze in a mental olympics. Being the single person speaking for seven hours of rehearsal is incredibly taxing. As the process continues, I feel my stamina building. I actually really love the fact that it's just the director, Roy Steinberg, and the assistant stage manager, Barry Marks, in the room. Instead of conferencing with cast members on breaks, I get to sit down my director and ASM. I actually got my equity card as an ASM so I feel a camaraderie there. There's a nice casual energy, like we're just pals meeting every day to discuss Barbra.
The obvious thing I miss is other people. At the moment I share an actor house with the cast of the show currently playing at Cape May, so I don't feel too lonely just yet, but once they close and I open, I will be in a six bedroom house alone...I anticipate that feeling a bit isolating.
5. With no other cast members to interact with, how do you relieve your stress when rehearsals get to be too much and you don't want to talk to the director in a particular moment? Thankfully, I am married to a wonderful human being named David who is always willing to FaceTime with me and point the phone towards our rescue dog, Winnie. I also have two incredibly talented friends who have both done Buyer & Cellar multiple times. I have been in frequent conversations with them both. I'm so thankful to them. I love you Nick Cearley and Nic Cory!
6. Your character, "Alex," is a struggling actor. What kind of struggles have you faced as an actor, aside from not getting called back or booking a job? Unlike "Alex," you have had a lot of success with acting. What has been the greatest reward of being an actor? Thanks for saying that. It's always a struggle because every job ends and you're back to needing employment. I really felt a shift in my career when I started pursuing television, that's really when a lot of success started coming my way. Before I got crystal clear with what kind of performing I most wanted to do, I was expelling a lot of energy trying to do anything and everything. I was so desperate for a job and I wasn't booking. I was waiting tables full time which left me drained and most disturbingly I didn't WANT to audition. That's when I started taking classes and focusing on TV which helped me zero in on OWNING the qualities in myself that were uniquely me. Nurturing and embracing my specific take on material unlocked a new joy and I began taking ownership of material instead of trying to "be right."
The greatest reward, in my opinion, of being an actor is not having to spend my time doing something I dread just to pay the bills.
7. There is one scene in Buyer & Cellar where your character gets to have ice cream with Barbra Streisand. If you could have ice cream with Barbra Streisand, what do you think you would talk about with her? That is such a great question. Ok, if I was sharing coffee flavored fro-yo with Babs, I would love to hear her talk about getting over the fear and anxiety that kept her from performing live for 27 years. I'd also ask if I could get a manicure with her. Duh.
8. How has Barbra Streisand inspired you and your career? I'm similar to the character of "Alex" in the fact that I wasn't really hip to Barbra prior to working on Buyer & Cellar. I knew who she was, of course, but I didn't really know much...not even Funny Girl. But since studying her, I really am inspired by the diversity of hats she wears. Sure, there are crazy rumors and stories about her, and yes, the book My Passion For Design is incredibly over the top, but I do have a deep respect and admiration for her. She's also yet another example, that if you want to work in this business, you have to create your own opportunities.
9. Who or what inspired you to become an actor? I was (intensely) obsessed with I Love Lucy and everything Lucille Ball growing up. I recorded the whole series on VHS and would transcribe episodes and act them out in our dining room to imaginary cameras hidden in our walls. I think I always knew acting was what I wanted to do. I'm thankful to my parents for always encouraging my pursuit.
10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Being present. I spend a lot of time in my head, wondering, wishing, hoping, scheming, dreaming, & comparing. In this business there is always a new goal, a new level of achievement to strive for. I'd love to get 1% better each day at being grateful and present for each moment I'm given.
Trey has recurring roles on Orange is the New Black, Hulu’s Deadbeat, NBC’s Next Caller with Jeffrey Tambor and Dane Cook, and guest starred on FX’s You’re The Worst and BET’s Comedy Get Down opposite George Lopez. Other TV includes The CW’s The Carrie Diaries, TVLand’s Younger, Steven Spielberg’s TNT series Public Morals, and Tina Fey’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Film: Todd Solondz’s Wiener-Dog (opposite Danny DeVito), Fourth Man Out, Ce Sentiment de l’été, Grind (with Anthony Rapp), Kate (Best Supporting Actor Award) and Carefree. Web: Abstract Poverty. Theatre: La MaMa, Florida Rep, Maine State Music Theatre, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Ogunquit Playhouse, Teatro Circulo, Theatre 54, Dixon Place, Waterfront Playhouse, and NYC’s Slanted Story Initiative (Associate Company Member). Trey assisted the UK directing team on the reimagined Les Miserables, which played Broadway.