Jacob Young lights up Beauty and the Beast; Christian Hoff recalls his winning Tony night; and Hamish Linklater enters The Busy World.
On June 20, Beauty and the Beast celebrates its 5,000th performance, and the man who will literally be lighting up the stage that night -- as Lumiere -- is All My Children star Jacob Young. He joined the show for a limited run last month, and reports all is going well with his Broadway debut. "I was very familiar with the story, but I only saw the show a couple of times before I auditioned and I wasn't sure what to expect," he says. But I knew Lumiere was the only part that was right for me. The other males are more brooding, and I don't have the height to play them. I had about three months to prepare, and thanks to my voice teacher, Marianne Challis, I've gotten my voice to a good place. Thankfully, I'm not doing six big songs -- it's just three small parts -- because the costume is kind of tight around the diaphragm. But I'm glad all the hard work has paid off."
Young is working doubly hard, since he spends his day filming the soap, where his character, J.R. Chandler, has been trying (so far unsuccessfully) to kill his wife, Babe. "It's a completely different stretch to do this show at night," he says. "Each day, I have to find a way to decompresss and relax before I go on stage. But being Lumiere has proven to be a great form of release after having to be so serious. On the other hand, I can't ad-lib onstage, which we often have to do on daytime."
Has he discovered a secret to living this double life? "Lots of naps," he says. "I have a chaise longue in my dressing room on the soap and that really helps. Susan Lucci (who starred on Broadway in Annie Get Your Gun and plays Erica Kane on AMC) gave me great advice, which was to pace myself and make sure I get plenty of rest. So there's not much nightlife for me. I learn my lines for the next day and go to bed. Now, I'm thinking I might want to do a straight play next. I wouldn't have to warm up my voice, and it might be a lot easier to juggle."
If there was an award for Most Dramatic Moment on the Tony Awards, it would go to Christian Hoff's win as Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Jersey Boys. (The show itself also took home the Best Musical trophy.) "It was a great surprise," says Hoff. "We had just performed and they got me back to my seat just in time for the announcement of my category. In fact, I didn't even know the real Four Seasons had been on stage to introduce us since I wasn't watching the monitor; I thought it was just Joe Pesci, like at the dress rehearsal." After the show, he met up with his real-life counterpart Tommy DeVito. "He said all that he wanted all night was for me to win, and his daughter told me she's so grateful we've re-introduced the world to her father and their music."
Adding icing to the cake was that the award was presented by former Tony winner Christine Ebersole. "She came and saw the show about a week beforehand, and we visited for 20 minutes afterwards and she was in tears the whole time," he says. "The fact that I could move a colleague, especially one I so trust and respect, was a win for me right there." Hoff adds that the reaction of audiences this week have been a little different than pre-June 11. "My first entrance is a little more charged than before," he admits.
Hoff is contracted with the show through October and is weighing all his options. "I think about staying on every day. It's a great role, but there is some interest in me doing other work on Broadway or in film." And does Hoff have a role he'd really like to play? "I'd love to do Richard III. That's always been a dream of mine."
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Looking for some beautiful music this month? The great Ronny Whyte heads the cast of an updated version of the hit revue Our Sinatra at Feinstein's at the Regency through June 24; Hershey Felder has brought his acclaimed Monseiur Chopin to Cambridge's American Repertory Theatre; Capathia Jenkins, Darius de Haas, Alton Fitzgerald White and Louis Rosen will join forces for An Evening of Song on June 18 at The Cooper Union; Rich Affanato, Becca Ayers, Heather Ayers and Jim Stanek will star in a free reading of the new musical Love Incorporated on June 19 and 20 at the Snapple Theatre Center; and Karen Mason and Deborah Tranelli will star in the York Theatre's reading of the musical Friends Like These on June 21. The following week, on June 26, Chris Fuller and Jessica Grové will star in a concert presentation of the acclaimed musical The Pursuit of Persephone at the Lucille Lortel; and Canadian songstress Adi Braun will appear at Tower Records' Any Wednesday series on June 28 and perform at Danny's Skylight Room on June 29 and 30.
When Hamish Linklater signed on for Playwrights Horizons' production of The Busy World Is Hushed, his leading lady was Oscar winner Christine Lahti. A week after rehearsals started, Lahti withdrew for personal reasons, and he was reunited with pal Jill Clayburgh, who took over the role. "Not only did Jill and I do a reading of the play at New York Stage & Film, but she played my mom in this TV pilot about four years ago," he says. "But the funniest thing is the night we heard that Christine had to drop out, I ran into Jill. She told me that she would love to do the play, but was committed to Barefoot in the Park [which announced an early closing shortly afterwards]. But it's all worked out perfectly, although Christine was amazing to work with."
Linklater plays Brandt, a young writer hired by Clayburgh's character, a minister and bible scholar named Hannah, to work on her newest publication. She then sets him up with her estranged son, Thomas, played by Luke MacFarlane. "It was so important to find someone with whom I have the right chemistry -- and Luke couldn't be a sweeter or more talented guy," says Linklater, who's married to playwright Jessica Goldberg. "A small cast can be a nightmare if someone isn't fantastic, but I think it's a plus that there are only three characters in this play. To me, ensemble is French for 'my part is too small.'" Still, if Linklater had one overwhelming reason to take the role, it was to work with director Mark Brokaw. "Auditioning for Mark has been like a second job, and until now, I failed every time. I think he's really clear about what he wants and he fills you with the confidence you need to get the work done."
In August, Linklater returns to Los Angeles, to begin filming the second season of the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, in which he plays Julia Louis-Dreyfus' wacky brother, Matthew. "It's been a really awesome experience, though once a day, I get terrified of working with Julia," he says. "It's not that she's personally scary; it's because she's this TV icon. But she is so easy and so fun to be around. I hear this year the writers are thinking of sending my character to medical school, but I think I'd rather go to NASCAR school. After all, that would get the men to watch."
The actor already has his next theatrical project on the horizon: playing Hamlet at South Coast Rep next spring. He's already played the role at Long Wharf and was a memorable Laertes opposite Liev Schreiber at the Public in 1999. So why do it again? "I think it's just one of those roles you've got to do three or four times to get it right," he says.