I think all actors have a wish list, a dream lineup of great parts in the repertoire that he or she hopes to tackle at least once in a career. I have been chasing a couple of them for the past several years, preparing and performing audition after audition, coming just so close... and never quite getting there. So imagine my elation that I suddenly get to do two of those cherished parts in one season; in fact, back to back!
There are few roles I identify with as much as I do with John Adams. I feel like I can get inside this guy's skin. I relate strongly to his passion, his outspokenness, his commitment to what he believes is right. We're both from Massachusetts, and both of shorter stature... how many heroic leading roles are there for shortish, middle aged guys? Adams is for me one of the greatest in musical theatre, a real actor's role... akin, in my view, to roles like King Arthur in Camelot and Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady. The show is a true ensemble piece with an incredible book, and Adams anchors the show.
I am thrilled and honored to be playing the part at Cape Playhouse, America's oldest summer theatre, on gorgeous Cape Cod, and to have Tony nominee Christiane Noll as Abigail. Add to this the fact that James Brennan, one of my favorite directors, is at the helm. To share the experience of preparing this cherished part, I am doing a video blog series, "Becoming John Adams," which will be posted on my website and as a guest blog on BroadwayWorld.com. In it, I will capture the process of preparing for, rehearsing and performing John Adams, as well as some research trips to Independence Hall in Philadelphia and the Adams birthplace and farm in Quincy, Massachusetts.
From the American Revolution to a French Revolution....
If there is one thing I love playing, it's a deliciously evil villain. And there are some gems that I have been hankering after, with Thénardier right at the top of the list. Les Misérables has been a part of my consciousness since I saw the show in Boston in the mid-80s. I became obsessed with it even before that when I got the London cast album. It had an electricity that I hadn't experienced before. I did a scene, as Marius, for my senior showcase in college! Now that I am at the right stage of my career to play that scheming immoral bottom feeder, Monsieur Thénardier, I have done numerous auditions for the role. I am extremely thrilled that my first production of Les Misérables will be at a Shakespeare festival, the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, and it will be directed by my Buddy Holly Story director D.J. Salisbury. More news on Les Misérables as casting is announced etc. Stay tuned.
Whereas Adams's character is rooted in morality and a sense of his country's good, Thénardier is completely immoral, a nihilist who only looks out for number one. Whereas Adams is a true hero, Thénardier, for all the comedy in the role, is a repulsive villain. Playing these kinds of contrasting parts is what I got into acting for! Two epic roles in two of the finest shows in the repertoire. I am so excited and extremely grateful. I am keenly aware that so many actors don't get the chance to play their dream roles, and how fortunate I am to do two of them back to back! Watch this space for posts about both productions, and be sure to subscribe on youtube to follow all the segments of "Becoming John Adams," launching in early June.