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Quick Wit: Marc Kudisch

One of the stars of The Wild Party talks to Ricky Spears about his dream role, his pet peeve, and what it's like to spend New Year's eve with Kristin Chenoweth.

By New York City
It isn't easy catching up with Marc Kudisch these days. Hot off The Scarlet Pimpernel, he's now drenched in 1920s Harlem allure in George C. Wolfe's production of The Wild Party at the Virginia Theater.

Kudisch has been racking up a steady stream of flashy Broadway credits (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Beauty and the Beast, High Society) since his first New York show, Tamara: The Living Movie. He also had the title role in Bye Bye Birdie on tour and in the TV version that co-starred Vanessa Williams, Jason Alexander, and Tyne Daly. Though he plays a lost soul in The Wild Party, it sounds like Kudisch is having a blast. He's tall, he's handsome--and he's engaged to Kristin Chenoweth. What more could a Broadway matinee idol ask for?

When you were a kid, is this where you thought you'd be in the year 2000?

I thought I was going to be a politician--even in college. That's what I was going for in school, man. But sophomore year in college changed all that. I was in this Poli Sci class, and the subject was the New Deal and what happened afterwards. All political theory is based on failure, and I thought: I can't base my life on failure! So I focused more on the theater, which I was studying as a kind-of fill in. I'm still a politician, though. Really, I am!

What show brought you your Equity card? Another Antigone at the Caldwell Theatre Company in Boca Raton, Florida.

What's your favorite song from one of the shows you've done?

"One Last Kiss," from Bye Bye Birdie.

If there were a soap opera based on your life, what would it be called?

You Don't Know Everything.

Who's your personal hero?

My dad, who passed away a year ago.

Your personal villain?

I am my own personal villain.

What role would you like to play that you will never get to play?

Auntie Mame. Charles Busch did it in a benefit reading that I was in, and he was the best Auntie Mame I've ever seen. Better than any woman--or man, for that matter. It was an amazing thing to witness.

What role would you like to play that you might actually get to play?

Fred in Kiss Me, Kate. Also, I'd love to do The Desert Song. I'm hoping that someone will write a musical of The Count of Monte Cristo. And I hear there's a musical of Batman floating around.

What's the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you on stage?

I was in Tamara. I played Mario, the chauffeur, and the show was done over in the Park Avenue Armory. I had to go into this antique armoire to get my suit out, and when I opened the door, I tore it off the armoire. It was so heavy, I couldn't even prop the thing up, so the actor who played my nemesis in the show had to come over and give me a hand. We had to stop the show. On top of it all, the armoire was some kind of landmark antique and had to be specially put back together. Another embarrassing thing happened in Bye Bye Birdie on tour: I was wearing this neon blue underwear/tights thing under my costume, and my fly was all the way down. This little burst of blue kept peeking through. Always remember to check your fly before you go on stage!

What is your pet peeve?

The lack of discipline and craftsmanship in this business. There is a lot of great talent, but little craftsmanship. And microphones. I hate microphones! The microphone has been a great undoing of what we do as singers and actors. I think it makes people lazy.

If you could wake up in the morning with a skill that you don't already possess, what would it be?

I wish I could fly, like a bird. And I wish I could really play the piano, the guitar, or some musical instrument.

What did you do on the night of December 31, 1999?

I was in Ft. Lauderdale with my fiancée, Kristin, at the Bee Gees concert. They were awesome. They kicked.

What is your favorite sound?

The sound of a glorious, robust, well-used voice that is attached to the heart.

Who are some of your favorite singers?

Kristin is amazing. Also Howard McGillin, Alice Ripley, Emily Skinner, and Norm Lewis. They all sing completely from their hearts.

What's your favorite four letter word?

F**k. You can add so many things to it!

What's your favorite way to unwind after a show?

To be home in front of the TV.

What was your favorite childhood game?

My brothers and sisters and I, after our parents would go out, we would run our own restaurant--with little pieces of bread, pizza. And, oh yeah, we used to put on strip shows with Ken and Barbie. We'd put some 45 on the record player, and one of us would hold a flashlight.

What gets you all choked up?

Little things that remind me of a place or time. Just yesterday, we were talking about going to the Carnegie Deli. That was my father's favorite deli; he loved the corned beef. I used to run over there and grab a sandwich for him just before I'd jump on a plane to go visit him.

Do you prefer rock or show tunes?

Show tunes.

Morning or night?

Both.

Intimate gathering or wild party?

Intimate gathering. Definitely.

Boxers or briefs?

Boxers. Gotta have room.


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