Victor Garber
(© Tristan Fuge)
Victor Garber
(© Tristan Fuge)
Victor Garber's appearances on the New York stage come far more infrequently these days than his fans would like. On Monday, December 5, the four-time Tony Award nominee will take part in the Roundabout Theatre Company's benefit concert staging of the classic musical She Loves Me at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, alongside Kelli O'Hara, Josh Radnor, Jane Krakowski, Gavin Creel, and Rory O'Malley. TheaterMania recently spoke to Garber about the concert.

THEATERMANIA: Is this your first professional experience with She Loves Me?
VICTOR GARBER: No, it was my first professional job in Toronto. I was in the ensemble and the understudy for Arpad. So I have great nostalgia for this show.

TM: Could you imagine back then that someday you would play Mr. Maraczek?
VG: I certainly didn't think it would be this fast. Scott Ellis, who is directing this show, asked me to do Kodaly about 20 years ago for the Roundabout, and I wouldn't do it. But this is a much easier role. I sing one song and I don't have to dance. And it's a wonderful part; he's the owner of the perfume shop, and all these interesting people come in. It's sweet and dramatic, and I am loving doing it.

TM: Tell me about working with this cast.
VG: I sat through the first read-through on Sunday and it was just daunting to be around these amazing people. Kelli O'Hara and I recently did Knickerbocker Holiday together and the thing is, when Kelli opens her mouth, you just wonder how that happens. I think this is a perfect role for her. I worked with Jane Krakowski on 30 Rock, and she's just perfection as Ilona. Michael McGrath and I did Follies together at Encores, and he's just great. And there are the people I haven't worked with before. I think Gavin Creel is astonishingly good, and Rory O'Malley is ridiculously talented. And yes, I am sucking up to him to get his house seats for The Book of Mormon if it's the last thing I do.

Victor Garber and Lisa BanesinPresent Laughter
(© Joan Marcus)
Victor Garber and Lisa Banes
inPresent Laughter
(© Joan Marcus)
TM: As a rule, do you enjoy doing these one-night benefits?
VG: I don't always like doing them; they're kind of stressful and nerve-wracking. But Scott Ellis is one of my best friends, and I can't refuse him anything -- except playing Kodaly 20 years ago. I did A Little Night Music with him for the Roundabout, and that was such a special evening. He really is a genius about putting these things together. And the Roundabout is very important to me -- it's where I did Present Laughter -- and I do whatever I can to help them.

TM: Have the show's creators been involved in the benefit?
VG: Sheldon Harnick [the show's lyricist] and his wife Margie, who are old friends, showed up the other day, and Joe Masteroff [the show's librettist] was at our read-through. They're royalty, and of course, everything feels heightened when the creators are in the room. So I was so pleased that our read-through couldn't have gone better; that could have been the performance.

TM: So, are you ready to tackle a Broadway musical again for real?
VG: No, I don't think I could do eight shows a week of a musical. And I am not sure what show I could really do at this point in my career. The one thing I even considered a couple of years ago was doing My Fair Lady, and I know that after Knickerbocker Holiday, someone suggested Kelli and I should do it. But at this moment, I think it's too hard. Doing Present Laughter eight shows a week nearly killed me.

TM: So what are you doing next?
VG: I am not sure. Right now, I have nothing in January. But the way my life has always worked is someone comes up with something, and if it's someone I want to work with, then I say let's do it. That's the way it always happens. I'm open to lots of things, but I'd really like to stay in New York.