Skylar Astin's Pitch Perfect Career Has Brought Him Back to the Stage in Little Shop
The Spring Awakening alum talks about taking on the role of Seymour off-Broadway, as well as his new TV series.
Like many of his castmates in the original off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Spring Awakening, Skylar Astin became an immediate star. But shortly after leaving the show, in which he played Georg, Astin began to focus on a career in film and television, eventually landing roles in the popular Pitch Perfect film franchise and on TV in Halt and Catch Fire, Graves, and Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist.
Now, the 34-year-old actor has finally returned to the New York stage as the latest Seymour in the acclaimed off-Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors. He recently spoke to TheaterMania about why he wanted the role, the advice he got from his Spring Awakening castmates Jonathan Groff and Gideon Glick (both of whom have played Seymour in this production), and his upcoming fall CBS-TV series So Help Me Todd, in which he stars opposite Tony Award winner Marcia Gay Harden.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Was playing Seymour on your bucket list?
It was somewhere, at least in theory. I knew the movie. I could sing the hits, but I never saw the stage version until I went to see Jonathan [Groff] in it. And watching him, I wasn't inserting myself into the show, I just loved all the performances. Then I heard a slight rumor in May 2020 about getting an offer, which was a yes in my brain. And when the offer actually resurfaced, I was such a quick yes. What I love most about Seymour is his heart. He has so much love to give and also wants what he can't have. I can relate to that.
What has been the biggest challenge you've found in playing the part?
There is a lot of throwing my body around. Seymour essentially pushes himself through the first act, and he gets pushed a lot of in the second act. So, I've been doing some physiotherapy work to sustain myself.
You're the third Spring Awakening alum to play the role in this production. Did you talk to either Jonathan or Gideon Glick about doing this show, and if so, did they have any advice?
Yes, I spoke to Jonathan for three hours and Gideon for an hour, and they echoed the same sentiments about how much they loved being in the production. They couldn't stop saying how much fun they had every night. I was also told that Tammy [Blanchard] would make me a better actor, which she has, and how much I will learn from Christian Borle [who returns on May 31]. I am really looking forward to sharing the stage with him.
Being reunited with you Spring Awakening cast reunited last year for that one-night concert must have been a bit surreal. What do you remember most about that night?
Not just having my family there but having all our families there and seeing everyone's extension of themselves. Since we were kids back in 2006, it was a real mile marker to see my castmates with their spouses or even their own kids.
Most of your work in the past 15 years has been on TV and film. Do you watch your own work?
I don't mind watching myself. I am not tortured by it like some actors I know. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, sometimes not, but I know I am powerless since the performance is really crafted in the edit. When I produce and direct, I will pick my own takes. And yes, I hope to do that someday; I am that much of a cliché.
Speaking about TV, tell me about your new fall series So Help Me About Todd.
It's this wonderful mother-and-son dramedy. She's this high-powered lawyer and I am a private investigator whose license was revoked for criminal activity. I am the real black sheep of the family, but we end up working together. And while it's a procedural, the real heart of the show is the banter between me and Marcia. I didn't know her personally, but I've always been such a big fan of hers, and we clicked right away. She's a theater gal. We both love to rehearse and we speak the same language. It's great!
Do you prefer TV to stage?
What I like about TV is being able to take one character to the consummate distance, which doesn't happen onstage. In TV, you get to evolve episode to episode, season to season. When I met our creator, Scott Prendergast, I had a ton of questions about Todd and he had all the answers about my character and where he sees the upcoming seasons if we're lucky to have them. To be honest, I don't like winging it.