Few Broadway actors travel the path taken by Corey Cott. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in the spring of 2012, he quickly joined the cast of Disney's Newsies as the alternate for Jack Kelly, the rabble-rousing newsboy who leads a strike by his fellow newsies against price-gouging newspaper baron Joseph Pulitzer. Cott took over the role full-time on September 5 of that year when the role's originator, Jeremy Jordan, left Newsies for NBC's Smash. That's a newly minted BFA to a Broadway lead in just a few months.
Two years on, Cott is now saying goodbye to his Broadway debut: Newsies is set to close August 24. He shared with TheaterMania a few of his memories, including his most awkward stage-door encounter.
1. What is your favorite line in the show that you deliver?
Without a doubt, "Dreams come true, yeah they do." I am truly living my dream every day. The first time I sang that lyric during my debut performance was one of the most cathartic moments of my life.
2. What was the most "interesting" present someone gave you at the stage door?
An intoxicated middle-aged woman grabbed me and kissed me on the mouth. I don't really consider that a gift, but it was definitely interesting, and terrifying and violating.
3. Who is the coolest person that came to see your show? (You can't say your family.)
The coolest? Hmm. Lots of incredibly important people came to our show, people I will forever cherish having the opportunity to meet. Naomi Watts. James Franco. Phylicia Rashad. Sir Ian McKellen. Gloria Steinem. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas. Elvis Costello and Diana Krall. But the two people who came who impacted me the most in my life were Anthony Rapp and Robert DeNiro. Rent was the first OBC [original Broadway cast] recording I ever fully memorized, and Anthony was an icon to me, not to mention the fact that I met him inside the Nederlander Theatre, where Rent also played. DeNiro is a legend and a master of our craft. I made an effort to study him as much as I could while I was in college. The fact that he sat and watched me perform for two and a half hours still baffles me.
4. If you could steal one costume piece from the show, what would it be and why?
Probably my cap. The Newsies cap is an essential element of our costume. Early on, our associate choreographer always gave the note that the cap is an extension of our personality. When we remove it, it still needs to have a life. Whether we are using it to hit someone, throwing it up in the air, or simply letting it sit on our lap, we must endow our caps with pride and dignity.
5. Have you ever actually been to Santa Fe? If so, what did you do there?
No, I have never been to Santa Fe, but I order the Santa Fe salad at Chop't all the time. That counts right?
6. Newsies was your Broadway debut. What did you learn about working on Broadway that you wouldn't have guessed by watching from the outside?
No matter what anybody tells you, no matter how many classes you take, no matter how many BFAs you have, no matter how many @AnnoyingActorFriend tweets you see, nothing can prepare you for doing eight shows a week. Nothing. It is a schedule that demands so much. Specifically doing a show like Newsies that is so physically and vocally challenging, an astute focus is needed at all times. Even after two years I still feel like I am getting the hang of it.
7. After two years of playing Jack Kelly, what kind of role would you like to play next?
Frankly, something where I don't have to sing. A gritty Sam Shepard play like A Lie of the Mind or a Shakespeare farce like Comedy of Errors. Definitely Shakespeare. I feel like just recently I gathered enough courage to admit that I would love to tackle Hamlet. That new Larry David play sounds friggin' awesome. Hey Larry David, I am available.