Brian d’Arcy James Wants to Be a Rock Star
It was a big hit, so James is bringing the show back for three performances (September 5-7). TheaterMania asked him about it, and what we got was a lesson from the Brian d’Arcy James School of Rock (on Broadway):
Why are you bringing this show back to 54 Below?
The material for this show is mostly rock and pop, right?
It’s pop. It definitely has a more driving feel than your traditional Broadway sound. There’s always been a symbiotic relationship between Broadway and pop music. Obviously it was different in the forties when pop music was something else entirely. But with the sound you’re starting to hear come out of Broadway, it wouldn’t be so unnatural or confounding to hear Adele or Genesis. I’ve always loved that about Broadway.
How will this run of Under the Influence be different from last year’s show?
I’m going to do “Seven Days” by Sting. I’m also going to do a Stephen Schwartz song from Godspell called “Beautiful City,” which does fulfill my Broadway requirement for the evening. If anything, people will leave having a good sense of the music I like.
How did you develop your musical tastes?
Have you been workshopping this show in front of a mirror and in the shower since you were a kid?
Hahahaha. Yes. Music is such a powerful thing. Imagining what it’s like to be a rock star — singing your music and people really enjoying it — is an infectious idea. I’m definitely fulfilling my middle-aged fantasy of days gone past.
Now, with shows like Beautiful — The Carole King Musical and A Night With Janis Joplin, at lot more Broadway actors are getting to fulfill their rock star fantasies on stage. If you were to star in a bio-musical or thinly veiled concert, what would it be?
You know what they should do… do know the group XTC? This is an incredible band. They were born out of the British punk phase. Then they moved into this pop-punk stuff. They were led by a singer-songwriter named Andy Partridge. I think there’s something there for an XTC musical. Their music is astounding. You could easily tell stories with their songs. I’m also a humongous fan of Kevin Gilbert. He’s an incredible singer-songwriter. He has this compilation of music that I’ve wanted to breathe life into as a theatrical endeavor. That is an actual pursuit of mine.
You starred as cattle rancher Bick Benedict in Giant, which was a more traditional book musical by Michael John LaChiusa. Do you have any favorite memories from that show?
Now Shrek is getting a DVD. How does it feel to have your work memorialized in recording?
I’m all for it, particularly with Shrek. I’m actually really eager to see it! I haven’t seen the film. We took one night off when they shut down the show and put in six cameras. That was such an extremely challenging and rewarding experience. It required so much. To be able to see it is somehow going to prove to me that I did it. I know I did it, but I can’t quite believe. So this will be proof. Also, my daughter was in second grade at the time. She wasn’t very interested in seeing the show, mostly because of the makeup and seeing her dad in a different way. I was a monster. She just didn’t want to see it. It’s great because she regrets that and now she can see it.
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