I've been a fan of Nick Cearley's for a while now. I got to interview him back in 2013 when he, Lauren Molina, Nick Adams, Kevin Cahoon, Nick Cearley, Jen Cody, and Jeremy Kushiner all starred in Bucks County Playhouse's production of Rocky Horror. Now Nick is going from one cult classic to another. He is going to be starring as "Seymour Krelborn" in Portland Center Stage's production of Little Shop of Horrors.
It was so great catching up with Nick! We had a blast talking about everything Little Shop of Horrors, the life lessons he's learned from the show, the formation of "The Skivvies," the band he co-created with Lauren Molina, finding love, and how Nick would improve his life by one percent better everyday!
Little Shop of Horrors will play at Portland Center Stage (128 NW Eleventh Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97209) from September 10-October 16! Click here for tickets!
1. This fall you are starring in Portland Center Stage's production of Little Shop of Horrors. What are you looking forward to most about starring in this classic show? Little Shop is that show you see when you’re a little kid, whether it was on a stage or the iconic movie, and you dream about being a part of it your whole life. I remember drawing pictures of myself in it when I was 9. My mom still has the pictures saved in my "baby book." Rick Moranis in the movie (along with Ellen Greene) practically raised me on that VHS. Even cooler though is that this production of Little Shop of Horrors is a co-production with Tony Award-Winning Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
I grew up just outside of Cincinnati and saw so many of the shows at the Playhouse growing up. In fact, the first play I saw there was a production of The Wizard of Oz that my mom took me to see when I was 9. I was sitting in the last row and remember every last detail about it. I also remember that the "Dorothy" was asleep on a bed when the audience walked in to take their seats and I thought, wow, how cool/is she really asleep? I wonder now who that actress was. Getting to be able to play a dream role like "Seymour Krelborn," and for my entire family and hometown friends to be able to see it, is a dream times two. I have been lucky to get to do a lot of shows in my life, but most of the time family and friends don’t get to see them all because they can’t travel across the country every time.
2. What excites you about performing at Portland Center Stage and getting to spend your fall in Oregon? I have never been to Portland, but I have been to Seattle. I have always considered it my favorite city, in fact, because there is something about the Northwest that I have always gravitated towards. The energy of the city, the people, the weather — even though it rains a lot, it is so calming and inspiring. I also get to be there when the seasons change, so I know I will enjoy experiencing the different sides of that change.
3. You will be playing "Seymour" in this production. What do you relate to most about "Seymour" and what do you think your biggest difference is? "Seymour" is the ultimate nerdy oddball. I have always felt like an odd duck with my interests of abnormal things. "Seymour" is obsessed with an odd plant. I think that is a metaphor for the outsider in us all. The odd plant brings him joy, and even success and attention (for a while). To be embraced by all that and feel, if even for 15 minutes of fame, like part of the "cool" club or the "in crowd" is something I think we have all felt in our lives. The biggest difference would be that I actually don’t have a green thumb. Every plant I have ever touched has instantly died.
4. One of "Seymour's" songs is "Grow For Me." In this song, "Seymour" sings to "Audrey II" wondering what will make her grow and pleads for her to do so. What is something in your life that you wanted to grow and you kept wishing and wishing for it to do so? My bank account.
5. Like "Seymour" you've found love as well. When did you know your husband was your "Suddenly, Seymour”? Ha. I love when people ask about Eric. I sort of knew in the first couple of years. At the time we got together, we were both in theatre school at Boston Conservatory. He is now a lawyer for Lambda Legal, but in his theatrical heyday the original cast of Side Show was a thing and Boston Conservatory had just done the first production out of NYC. So when I arrived at school, it was the thing everyone was still talking about ad nauseum. Everyone at school called us the Alice (Ripley) and Emily (Skinner) of Boston because we were inseparable. As cheesy as that sounds, we have been joined at the hip ever since.
6. If you had to live your life according to Little Shop of Horrors, what are the top three lessons you've learned from the show/film?
Embrace your inner weird. — If you have a plant obsession, or similar, and you’re the only one you know with that interest, embrace it. It is what makes you "you."
Be a vegetarian. — If only "Audrey 2" was a vegetarian then she wouldn’t be a threat to the entire human race.
7. What is your favorite song of "Seymour's" to sing? What song of another character do you wish you could sing? Well, let’s be honest, who DOESN’T want to be "Audrey?" I dream of playing "Audrey." So, I would die to one day sing "Somewhere That’s Green."
Of "Seymour’s," I am excited to sing the songs that aren’t necessarily the ones everyone knows as well. For example, "Call Back in the Morning," "Closed for Renovation," and "Mushnik and Son" weren’t in the film, so there’s a mass audience of people who aren’t familiar with those songs from the score. When I was a kid, "Mean Green Mother" (which was only in the movie) was a big dance recital song that I remember being obsessed with. So, maybe I will do a bonus track of it in my dressing room on my guitar/ukulele as a sweet ballad to fulfill that request!
8. In addition to acting, you also perform concerts, with your co-creator Lauren Molina, as "The Skivvies," in your underwear. How did you two come to know each other and how did you decide to form "The Skivvies"? Lauren and I have been best friends and collaborators on musical projects for 14 years. She actually just played "Audrey" at The Cleveland Playhouse! About four years ago, we were trying to decide what to wear while covering a song — we did our own interpretation of Rihanna’s hit "We Found Love" on the Youtube. She was deciding what to wear and was in her bedroom wearing her bra. So I said, "Why don’t you just wear that?" And she said, "You’re right! We are stripping down the music and lyrics!" Bam. Four years later we are still going strong and that is literally my day job. We have created a small business that we are so very proud of.
9. What has been the most awkward or embarrassing moment to happen during one of your shows? Oh, easy. And I didn’t know it until I saw the picture on Playbill. But a ball totally popped out during a performance in NYC one night. Whoops.
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? I want to be less attached to my iPhone and LOOK UP around me more.
Nick Cearley is one half of the critically acclaimed "undie"-rock comedy duo known as The Skivvies (theskivviesnyc.com), co-created with Lauren Molina. Most recently, he completed five regional premieres of Buyer & Cellar, for which he won Best Performance by CityBeat Cincinnati. Off Broadway: "Puck" in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Pageant: The Musical (Original Cast Album on Jay Records, Drama Desk nom.); and Sex Tips... Broadway/First National Tour: All Shook Up. Fave regional: Twelfth Night (dir. Scott Schwartz), Next to Normal, …Trailer Park, …Spelling Bee, Plaid Tidings (dir. Gordon Greenberg), and The Rocky Horror Show (dir. Hunter Foster). Williamstown Theatre Festival, Bay Street Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, American Stage Theatre Company, TheatreWorks, New York Stage and Film, York Theatre, Kimmel Center, City Theatre, Eugene O Neill Center, The Smith Center, Berkshire Theatre Group, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Stoneham Theatre, Serenbe Playhouse, Luna Stage, Diversionary Theatre, Rubicon Theatre Company, Alhambra Theatre, Bucks County Playhouse. TV pilots for Fox, WE, and A&E. Instagram/Twitter: @clearlycearley @theskivviesnyc.