Call Answered: Craig Ramsay: "Mamma Mia!" at ACT of Connecticut, Bravo TV, Fitness
Mamma Mia! (ABBA) + Fitness + "Grindr Guy" from 2 Broke Girls = an interview I want to do! I was thrilled to get the opportunity to interview actor & fitness guru Craig Ramsay about his co-starring turn in ACT of Connecticut's production of Mamma Mia!
One of Mamma Mia!'s original cast members of the pre-Broadway touring company, it was so wonderful getting to speak with Craig about coming full circle with one of the shows that started it all for him. I loved getting his viewpoints on this show as well as his experience on Bravo TV's Newlyweds: The First Season. As an aspiring fitness person myself, I was very intrigued to get his perspective on healthy living!
Mamma Mia! plays at ACT of Connecticut (36 Old Quarry Road, Ridgefield CT) through July 1. Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was a hyperactive kid who wouldn’t shut up...ever...until my parents took me at 8-years-old to see the musical Anne of Green Gables in Charlottetown PEI (Prince Edward Island in Canada). I was hooked! 12 years later my first professional equity contract was in Anne of Green Gables at the Charlottetown festival. This show had me fall in love with theatre.
2. This June you are starring in ACT of CT’s production of Mamma Mia! which you initially were part of the pre-Broadway touring company. What's it like to return to this show? It’s surreal at times! It never crossed my 22-year-old mind that I would be playing one of the "Dad’s" in Mamma Mia! in my lifetime. Honestly, I never thought I’d grow up and I probably haven’t in many ways.
Mamma Mia! brought me into the United States from Canada, where I was born and grew up. It provided me a salary I didn’t know existed in theatre. I am so grateful to this show that continuously brings me new opportunities, new friendships and so much love and excitement.
3. What will you bring to this production that you learned from doing the pre-Broadway tour? I can’t help but chime in with stories and memories of this show such as working with Benny & Bjorn of ABBA, how I used to have to contractually tan "fry" my skin for this show & slather KY Jelly all over my half naked body for "Voulez-Vous" for the effect of sexy sweat. Many other stories that aren’t appropriate to share here in writing (haha). BUT, I also have to catch myself to not be "that old guy who won’t shut up about the past."
ACT of Connecticut’s director of Mamma Mia!, Daniel Levine, was also in the original pre-Broadway production with me and I think he along with Binder Casting’s Chad Eric & Justin Bohon knew how to make this production amazingly similar to the original cast. We have incredibly talented artists who have fun together, put their egos aside and get along! I’ve been disappointed with other productions of Mamma Mia! including some of the Broadway castings, it’s obnoxious when performers use their current show and performance selfishly as if it’s an audition for their next gig. This cast is in the moment, and like the dancing queen lyrics "having the time of your life."
4. What do you relate to most about "Bill"? What is one characteristic of his that you are glad you yourself don't possess? The obvious similarity is that my "Bill Austin" is from Canada. Both the director Daniel Levine & I thought this would give this "Bill" a fresh & unique twist. I also want my "Bill Austin" to be multidimensional. He’s an adventurous world traveler, has an incredible sense of humor but is also very sensitive like I am. In fact the “Name of the Game” scene & song with "Sophie" (beautifully played by Emily Rogers) is where you really see "Bill" let his guard down and he shows how emotionally invested he is with the possibility of "Sophie" being his daughter.
I’m glad I don’t live out of a back pack like "Bill." I much prefer the Four Seasons and a beautiful wine & cheese spread over a cold beer.
5. I LOVE that you are going to be my friend Sheri Sanders' love interest in this show. What has been the best part about working with Sheri so far in the rehearsal process? What is one funny story you can share with us about something that happened during rehearsal/tech that just made you both crack up? Sheri is not only a brilliant performer but she is one of the most sought after audition coaches with www.rock-the-audition.com. As soon as I received the cast list I stalked her online @rocktheaudition and knew instantly that we would get along and have chemistry on and off stage.
I was really hoping that my "Rosie" would not only have great comedic timing but also have a sexiness and passion to her and Sheri definitely brings that! We staged the show in order, which means our “Take A Chance” number together did not have a lot of time, so I just love how Sheri & I barely knew each other and instantly tried everything from my head in her boobs “motor boating” to a dirty dancing lift, and M.C Hammer dancing around each other. We found what worked for us and the director but we laughed our asses off at what our two “out of the box” minds came up with in such a short time.
6. You and Sheri perform "Take A Chance On Me." What is something you still want to take a chance on that you haven't yet? I desperately want children! My husband & I have been on again off again trying for the past four years and I just don’t know what to do next or who or where to turn to. But I’m willing to "Take a Chance."
7. In this show you also perform "The Name of the Game." When have you been in a situation that made you wonder "What's the name of the game"? Yes! I’d love to know “What’s The Name of the Game” with this current administration and their loyal followers. I’m baffled! It’s such a humiliating & abhorrent time for America.
8. Now we have to switch gears and talk about some of your other endeavors. First and foremost, let's talk reality TV. You were the standout couple (with your partner Brandon) on Bravo's Newlyweds: The First Year and you have been on Thintervention, Real Housewives of Orange County, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Vanderpump Rules & Shahs of Sunset as well as Lifetime TV’s This Time Next Year with Cat Deeley. What has been the biggest adjustment from starring on reality TV, especially after Newlyweds: the First Season. Our Newlyweds show producers did not do us or the viewers justice. They continuously gave us resistance with filming and airing our professional endeavors. Our relationship & marriage apparently makes good TV, but our work changes people’s lives and makes this world a hell of a lot better and more beautiful. Since that show, our main objective is to showcase what we can do and the impact our work can make. My stretch class paired with wine tasting "Stretch a Reason to Wine" is changing the fitness & health industry. Brandon’s makeovers are much more powerful than a hair and look change. We paired up with Shah’s of Sunset star Mercedes Javid “MJ” and have a podcast coming out in July with “Hey Qween TV.” I host & film “Hey Qween” & Canada’s “OutTV”’s “He’s Fit” new show this summer. And we have a ton of other projects in the works that will be making a difference for people during these difficult times. We are finally being recognized for that since doing Newlyweds where it was never mentioned.
9. What made you want to become a personal trainer? What do you get from teaching fitness that you don't get from acting? Since 2002, I overlapped personal training while performing all of my Broadway shows. My approach to fitness and health is entertaining because of my performing background. This sets me apart because fitness and taking care of yourself under my guidance is fun and makes life exciting!
My intent with my fitness endeavors is very similar to my intentions with my acting and that’s to shift people's energy and make them feel good, feel empowered and leave me being a more grounded person.
10. If you have to give one exercise to get a flatter stomach, what would your go to exercise be? Exercise restraint when it comes to eating. I feel “better choices” help you lead a healthier more balanced lifestyle than pressured & unrealistic “best choices” which most of the time lead to guilt and gluttony. Abdominal exercises don’t give you abs, healthier eating and proper cardio help shape your body to allow abs to peekaboo and show them sexy selves.
More on Craig:
Originally from Canada, Craig was one of the original cast members in the pre-Broadway touring production of MAMMA MIA!. Other credits: Stephen Sondheim & Hal Prince’s BOUNCE, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, and Actors’ Fund Benefit Concerts of HAIR and ON THE 20TH CENTURY. Regional: "Tugger" in CATS (Marriott Lincolnshire), "Rocky" in ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (Universal Studios), ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (Charlottetown Festival). Television/Films, Once Upon a Mattress, An Englishman in New York, All My Children, General Hospital & 2 Broke Girls, This Time Next Year, as well as numerous notable BravoTV credits, including Thintervention & Newlyweds: The First Year, Real Housewives of Orange County, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Vanderpump Rules & Shahs of Sunset. An internationally renowned Fitness Expert, Craig is the author of best sellers Anatomy of Stretching & Anatomy of Muscle Building.