Call Answered: Dr. Bradley Jones: "A Chorus Line" + "Dr. Bradley's Fabulous Functional Narcissism…" at Don't Tell Mama
What an interesting interview Dr. Bradley Jones makes. From his nearly ten year stretch in the Broadway production of A Chorus Line, to becoming a psychoanalyst, we talk about every step, kick, and soul wrenching examination that makes up his one-man show Dr. Bradley's Fabulous Functional Narcissism…The Psychoanalytic Odyssey of a Once Glorified Chorus Boy Continues. Directed by internationally renowned cabaret singer KT Sullivan, Dr. Bradley's Fabulous Functional Narcissim chronicles Dr. Bradley's childhood as a budding theater queen, his turn in the spotlight, right through the present and his successful, post-Broadway career in New York City.
Dr. Bradley's Fabulous Functional Narcissim returns to Don't Tell Mama (343 West 46th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue) on July 26 at 7:30pm. Click here for tickets!
For more on Dr. Bradley visit http://www.drdbradleyjones.com!
1. This July you are returning to Don't Tell Mama with an encore performance of your show Dr. Bradley's Fabulous Functional Narcissism…The Psychoanalytic Odyssey of a Once Glorified Chorus Boy Continues. What are you looking forward to most about bringing this show back? I love the repetition—the doing of it over and over. Every time I have a chance to do it again it becomes more and more a part of me, I have more freedom to breathe, to ground myself in the material, and to hand it over to the audience in small, bite size, manageable pieces. When I do not feel as if I have been shot out of a cannon, and can lay back a little, I find myself going a bit deeper, and my audience has a better chance to metabolize the material.
2. The show chronicles your childhood years as a budding theater queen, ten years on tour, then on Broadway in A Chorus Line, as well as your post A Chorus Line career as a psychoanalyst in New York City. As you were initially putting this show together, what went through your head in recounting these events? The passage of time and all the change that can and does occur if one puts their mind to it. My ability to self reflect has grown immeasurably. I’m proud of the growth I have made, and I hope it is reflected in Dr. Bradley's Fabulous Functional Narcissism.
3. What was the hardest part of the show to write and what was the part that made you just smile all over again? The script of Dr. Bradley's Fabulous Functional Narcissism emerged quite freely, almost as if “it” was telling me what was important to say. I love the honesty contained within, and I have had the best time creating a script that includes simplified psychoanalytic theory for a lay audience to ponder. It is so much fun, and very gratifying to see people in the audience nodding their heads in identification with what I’m talking about. Many people understand their own narcissistic vulnerabilities, and are happy at the conclusion of my show to feel less shame about that part of themselves. I love it when the audiences can laugh at our proneness to injury, envy, and reactive aggression.
4. Directing this show, is the illustrious KT Sullivan. How did you decide that you wanted to have her direct the show? What is it about her vision and yours that lined up so perfectly? Enormous question. KT and I share a vision about “direction,” especially with regard to an autobiographical piece. Neither of us want someone “in" our life story telling us what we should say or how to say it. It needs to be collaborative, curious, and supportive. Getting around someone else’s vision to get to your own takes too much time, and can be enervating. KT just keeps telling me how fabulous I am, and how much she loves my writing. I have to be honest, support like that is all too often underrated. Instead of talking about what isn’t right, KT helps me to focus on what is working and the rest falls into place. But KT is a “pit bull” about things like diction, and specificity with regard to text. She is like a hawk around the consonants at the end of singing phrases. I am just hopeless around that, so she keeps me in line.
5. What is one story about A Chorus Line you can share with us that you do not talk about in your show? I go “balls to the walls” in Dr. Bradley's Fabulous Functional Narcissism about all that happened in A Chorus Line in the ten years I was there. I talk about excessive drug use, and abuse at the hands of the people who worked for Michael Bennett. A Chorus Line was an incredible show, but there was a darker side. I tell the stories that, because of their own shame, are hard for other people to tell. All told, I think living to tell the tale is the best part of it. Although I do talk about the AIDS pandemic in Dr. Bradley's Fabulous Functional Narcissism; I do not talk about my being HIV positive. I leave that out. My health is stable, and it has been for many years. Other than a lingering bit of survivors dysphoria - How did I get so goddam lucky to have made it through?—my status is a fact, but not intrinsic to the story I am telling about narcissism.
6. What was it like to be in the same show for 10 years? It was everything. Fun, exciting, a chance to work your craft over and over again. At other times it was very much a factory job. I consider myself one of the worker bees that kept the show running such a long time. Mostly it was secure, and gave me the resources to get into therapy and face my drug dependancy. By way of the resources A Chorus Line afforded me, it helped me to recover from my unhealthy narcissism. Or at the very least it gave me to opportunity to start the process of “getting better.” Gee, I hope I have gotten better….
7. I am fascinated by your career change, going from a performer to a psychoanalyst. What was the moment you decided to make this change? I left A Chorus Line due to a knee injury about nine months before it was to close on Broadway the first time around. I was so distraught I would not be the last "Gregory Gardner" on the line. I was walking around in a fog one afternoon wondering what my next move was going to be, and then I saw Fordham University up by Lincoln Center glistening in the distance. It was like a siren calling my name. I had an inkling I wanted to be a psychotherapist—I had very much idealized the woman who was my shrink at the time. I wanted to be like her, so I applied to Fordham and was admitted into the adult program in about two weeks. In Dr. Bradley's Fabulous Functional Narcissism I discuss my transition into being a psychotherapist, so I don’t want to give away all the fun in this interview. All I can say is that I did not initially want to be a psychotherapist to help people.
8. What was the most challenging part of transitioning careers? Writing. I went to three very "writing intensive" schools. I was not a writer, but I turned into one by bleeding from my nose and ears. I find writing to be bloodletting, painful, exhausting, and incredibly gratifying - IF I have created something worthwhile. Writing was the worst and the best of it. The paper I wrote that served as the thesis of my dissertation was published. I’m very proud of that.
9. What do you miss most about performing? Do your remember "Brick" from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof when he talks about “the click?” When I step onstage I feel a similar release into ecstasy. I feel empowered, emboldened, and vastly in control. At the same time I am vulnerable. Performing is dynamic, emergent, and is completely reliant on the interaction with each different audience you’re in front of. From a psychoanalytic perspective, being in front of an audience is an experience of mutual and self regulation. That means we're all connected at some basic level, and during each performance the audience and I have the chance to become exquisitely emotionally attuned to each other.
10. What has been your greatest reward as a psychoanalyst? I love seeing people get better. I also love when I fall just a little bit in love with one of my patients, because I know they are more than likely loving me just a little bit too. And when that happens things really start making sense.
More on Dr. Bradley Jones:
Dr. Bradley Jones made his Broadway debut in 1978 in a revival of Jesus Christ Superstar at The Longacre Theater. After that, Bradley worked steadily doing Off Broadway, national tours, and regional work until he was hired to play the role of Gregory Gardner in Michael Bennett’s A Chorus Line. Bradley made his home in ACL on tour and at New York’s Shubert Theater for almost a decade. When he retired from ACL due to a knee injury, he pursued his undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate studies to open a private psychotherapy practice in Manhattan. Dr. Jones has now been in private practice for over 20 years. He works with people in the performing arts, and also with people living with long term HIV infection. Bradley is very pleased to have reignited his love for performing and feels so gratefully alive to be on stage again in Dr. Bradley’s Fabulous Functional Narcissism.