Have you visited St. Louis before (for any reason)?
I have yes, frequently. As a matter of fact I was born in Belleville IL, and grew up in East St Louis and Belleville till I was 13. I’m the youngest of 10 kids and 7 of my siblings and their families live in the St Louis area, and my son went to SLU. So I’m quite familiar with St Louis.
Have you performed in St. Louis before? If yes, where and what show were you in?
I have not. Other than the performances we used to put on in our basement and backyard. It means a lot to me to be back performing in my hometown.
1. What was the first show you saw on Broadway?
The first professional show I saw was The King and I when I was 8 years old at the MUNY. It starred Pernell Roberts and Ann Blyth as the King and Anna. I was about 15 when I saw my first Broadway show in NYC. It was the 1974 production of Absurd Person Singular with Geraldine Page, Sandy Dennis, Richard Kiley and Tony Roberts.
2. When did you know you wanted to perform for a living?
I started doing theatre when I was 13. I didn’t set out to become an actor. I took a drama class and speech and debate class on a whim. But I guess I was “bitten” as the saying goes. I think I firmly committed to the idea that I could do this for a living when I was in college. Once I started I just never stopped.
What is the biggest challenge performing in this show?
The greatest challenge for me in performing the role of Jafar is keeping it fresh. We’re on show 612 as I write this. Telling the story anew every night is where technique and craft come into play. The fact that every audience is different and responds uniquely helps keep me in the moment.
What advice do you have for aspiring performers?
Wow, how much time do you have? There’s so much to say on this subject. There’s no one way to become an actor. Like life, everyone’s journey is unique but I believe there are some absolutes. Persistence: You can’t win/get cast if you’re not in the game. Stick with your dream and adjust your dream as you grow. Student for life: once you start on the road to become an actor you never stop learning…learning about yourself, life, history, relationships and telling the truth. Personalization: it’s key to learn to bring yourself to the role; your point of view, bringing the character to life using your life experience. Have fun, they don’t call it a play for nothing!
5. What are you most looking forward to seeing in St. Louis?
My family, gooey butter cake and toasted ravioli… in that order.