Call Answered: Akron Watson: "The Play That Goes Wrong"
Akron WatsonAkron Watson first caught my eye when he was starring in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple. When I found out Akron was coming into The Play That Goes Wrong, now the longest running play on Broadway, I knew I had to go see him.
I had heard countless people say how funny The Play That Goes Wrong was. Others said their mouths hurt from smiling so much because they laughed for two-full hours. Some had stomach aches from the amount of laughter ensued.
After seeing this show, I 1000% agree with them on all accounts. The Play That Goes Wrong is THE FUNNIEST show on Broadway! This show IS the definition of Broadway Magic! Two-hours of non-stop laughter! A master class in physical comedy! I can't recommend it enough!
Akron is great as "Trevor," the lighting board operator. His character doesn't have as much physical comedy as the other actors in the show, but a lot of Akron's genius comes from the subtle looks he gives throughout the show or the way he delivers his lines. He very much reminds of the way Bea Arthur would deliver her lines or looks on The Golden Girls.
I'm so excited to have been able to interview Akron. I just hope this doesn't become "The Interview That Went Wrong!"
The Play That Goes Wrong plays the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street, between Broadway & 6th Avenue). Click here for tickets!
Akron Watson, Photo Credit: Adam Anderson Photography1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was inspired by the men in my life: my dad, my pastor, and Will Smith. My dad was in plays at my church, that my pastor directed. My pastor also taught theater at my high school. And Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was basically all I watched as a kid. It was really inspiring to see a young black man be funny and interesting on TV.
2. I just saw The Play That Goes Wrong this past Wednesday and LOVED it! After seeing the show, I have to know, what was the audition process like for this show? The first audition was pretty standard: a character monologue from the show recited for the creators (who also happen to be the original cast members of the show). It was fun, they laughed a lot and gave a lot of affirmation and feedback.
The call back was very unique: a group of about 30 people all playing improv and clown games. We did a physical warmup, then we dived into improv scenes, half on stage, and half as the audience. THEN, we did two to three scenes from the show as everyone else watched (and provided much needed laughter response). It was exhilarating.
Akron Watson as "Trevor" in "The Play That Goes Wrong", Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel3. I first came to know you after seeing you in Broadway revival of The Color Purple, a very serious musical and now you are in, The Play That Goes Wrong, THE FUNNIEST show on Broadway, where the audience laughs non-stop for two full hours. How do you ready yourself each night for this comedic show as opposed to the seriousness of The Color Purple? I just talk to my castmates honestly. Everyone is SO funny, and smart and full of positive energy. Especially our four swings, two women and two men who basically cover us all, and a huge nod to my dressing-roommate Jonathan Fielding, who is basically the most hilarious person I've met. I interact with the audience a bit in this show, and I've learned that I can rely on my castmates to get me in the right headspace to be my best "Trevor."
4. There was quite a bit of interaction between the cast and audience on the night I saw the show. What is the funniest thing, so far, to happen both between cast members & between the cast & audience? There are so many moments that are "choreographed" to go "wrong" in our show, that the funniest moments for us are usually when things actually go wrong. Once Mark Evans mushed a line, which is super bizarre because he's so consistently perfect. It was one of the rare serious moments intended to give information and the information given that day was not the most accurate.
Akron Watson & the Cast of "The Play That Goes Wrong", Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel5. In The Play That Goes Wrong, you play "Trevor," the lighting board operator, who's only working on the show so he can pass his engineering course. What is one job you took because you knew it would help you get to the next step?The Full Monty. Actually "musicals" in general was my next step job. I just wanted to work more, in certain places with certain people, and musicals were my way in. There were also just more musicals casting at the time. So I went to some open mics to get more comfortable with singing in front of people, and I took a musical audition class at my local community college.
6. This show is like a master class in physical comedy. What part of the show do you just get so excited to perform every night that you can't wait for it to come? What's the hardest part of being in a show that is so physically demanding? I'm not half as physical as my castmates, so I more enjoy watching everything Amelia McClain does as "Sandra": getting knocked out twice and getting yanked through a window are my favorites.
7. Prior to starting The Play That Goes Wrong, what made you most nervous about taking the role? Now that you've been in the show for a bit, what have you learned about yourself as an actor that you didn't know previously? I was nervous I wouldn't be as funny as Rob, who originated the role of "Trevor." I learned that this play is funny no matter what. It's brilliant, and it's only my job to do what I know to do, play it for the truth of the situation. Don't try to be funny.
Akron Watson as "Trevor" in "The Play That Goes Wrong", Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel8. Since the show is called The Play That Goes Wrong, what has been the biggest thing to go wrong for you on stage either in this show or a previous show? And, what is the biggest thing in your life to go wrong that you just wanted or want to go right? I have to be honest, life is really good right now. Family, friends, work, everything is really great and "on track" for me personally. But once, in a little theater in Dallas, I did a monologue in my boxers and the front button wasn't buttoned. With my family and friends all present, things got a little awkward in the theater that memorable evening.
9. What's it like to work with Bette Midler every night? It's nice to know that every night, I get to be on Broadway with Bette Midler. It's really a dream come true.
10. If it were backwards day at The Play That Goes Wrong, aside from everything going right, which other character would you like to play? I think "Robert" is the most interesting. He definitely believes and performs the hardest and most focused. So it's interesting to watch him deal with the constant roadblocks the show presents his other wise perfect performance.
11. I love all the Duran Duran references in the show. If you had to describe the show in 5 Duran Duran songs, which ones would you choose? Please forgive me. "Trevor" is a Duran Duran afficianado. I would be doing their classic music and my show a disservice by even attempting this answer.
12. If this was "The Interview That Goes Wrong," what is one question I could have asked you to make this interview go right (and please provide that answer to said question)? If you could describe this show in five Prince songs, which ones would you choose? "I Would Die For You," "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man," "Thieves In The Temple," "Delirious," "Let's Go Crazy," respectively.
Akron Watson, Photo Credit: Jeremy PopeMore on Akron:
Broadway: The Color Purple Revival. Off-Broadway: The Fortress of Solitude (The Public Theater). Regional: Dreamgirls (North Shore Music Theater); Stagger Lee (Dallas Theater Center); Smokey Joes’ Café (WaterTower Theatre); Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Theatre Three Dallas); The Shipment (Undermain Theatre); Kismet (Lyric Stage); The Royale (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis). Film/TV: NBC’s Friday Night Lights; NBC’s Chase; Seasons of Gray; and Spilt Milk. Voiceover: Borderland the Pre-Sequel (Dunks Watson), The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (Chris Brian), Satoshi-Toonami’s Michiko & Hatchin. Featured on American Idol, "Season 6."