[Ed. Note: This newly-edited version of TheaterMania's December 2000 interview with Patrick Boyd is published to herald his upcoming shows at Don't Tell Mama in April.]
"I was seven when I started doing magic," Patrick Boyd recalls. "I got the magic kit that all the kids get at Christmas--and, unfortunately for my mom and dad, I never got tired of it. I was always spending time and money on mail-order magic."
Though musical theater is his bread and butter nowadays, it was magic that sparked Boyd's interest in show business. "There was no theater where I grew up in southern West Virginia," he explains, "and magic was something I could do that nobody else could do. People just love magic. Even when it's bad, they seem to be thoroughly entertained! I would watch magicians on television when I was a kid, and I really thought they had powers that nobody else had. It was a disappointment when I figured out that it's all tricks, lies, and mendacity--but I still find it fascinating. If you can make the people who are watching it think it's magic, well, then it is."
Boy, Oh Boy, the talented Mr. B's debut cabaret show, is returning to Don't Tell Mama in April for two performances only. "I had been to see some cabaret shows at Mama's," Boyd says, "and I had wanted to do one of my own for a long time. I thought cabaret would be a perfect venue for me to do my magic as well as to sing. As for the choice of songs, I realized that the music closest to me was the 'boy' material from popular Broadway musicals--and it would allow me to blend in the magic as well, because that's how I got started as a performer."
In his still-young career, Boyd has garnered some impressive musical theater credits: Fresh out of college, he played Tony in a national tour of West Side Story. He later toured throughout the U.S. and abroad in such shows as Crazy for You and A Chorus Line, and he played the Tin Man to the Wicked Witch of Roseanne [Barr] in The Wizard of Oz at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. His Main Stem debut came in the ensemble of the Grease! revisal. "I always thought my first time on Broadway would be as a fork in Beauty and the Beast, or something like that," he jokes, "but this was a major revival with a high-profile cast. And I got to understudy Sam Harris as Doody. We did the Tony Awards, the Macy's parade, the Tonight Show. Megan Mullally played Marty, and working with her was a lot of fun." Boyd went on as Doody quite often during the show's run...but he had a big moment in Grease! even when he wasn't subbing for Harris. "I was the 'dream mooner,'" he notes. "As Roger sang 'Mooning,' there was a fantasy couple upstage, and at the end of the number I would moon the audience. I dropped my pants on Broadway every night for a year!"
High on the list of Boyd's most exciting ventures was his appearance as one of Dainty June's farm boys in the TV film of Gypsy starring Bette Midler. "That was amazing," he says. "They spent a lot of money on the project and they didn't change one word of the Broadway script, which I thought was commendable. Bette was extremely professional, but accessible. Really classy. She would sometimes suggest how to do things, but she always deferred to the director, Emile Ardolino."
Though he's had no shortage of work in musicals, it's the shows that got away--e.g., Miss Saigon and Les Misérables--that are the source of much humor in Boyd's cabaret act as he offers wickedly funny parodies of "Why, God?" and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," the male ingénue showcase numbers from those blockbusters. The takeoffs in question are full of hilariously bitter observations: "They won't cast me in Les Miz now, but they're hired all my friends," Boyd sings to the tune of "Empty Chairs...," while his version of "Why, God?" includes the following lament over his failure to get into Saigon: "My bod's not that bad; must I be a recent college grad?"
Cabaret has proven to be the perfect venue for Boyd to joke about such things, though he confesses that he doesn't much enjoy the business end of the art form. "I don't like having to do the publicity myself," he says frankly, "but I don't have the funds to hire a P.R. person. On the plus side, I just love cabaret as a medium. It's been fun to put my own twist on songs, to create a different story with the music and lyrics every time. That's something you really can't do in a book show."