Interview: Steven Brault, Pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Shares His Love of Broadway and Baseball
The closest Broadway ever gets to baseball is through productions of Damn Yankees and Take Me Out. But one pro ballplayer is taking a step closer to blending the two. In 2020, Steven Brault, a lefty pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, released his first record, titled A Pitch At Broadway. A show tunes cover album, it features songs from some of Brault's favorite shows, including Hadestown, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Catch Me If You Can, and Wicked. Here, he tells us about his dual love of Broadway and baseball, and how there's much more love for the Great White Way around the locker rooms than you'd expect.
You don't see many pro baseball players releasing Broadway cover albums. Tell me about your relationship to theater.
When I was little, I played baseball all the time with my friends. The San Diego Opera came to my elementary school when I was in fifth grade and did Rip Van Winkle with us, and I played Henry Hudson and really enjoyed it. It took me by surprise. In sixth grade, middle school, there was a flyer up for the Peter Pan Junior Theater in San Diego, and I showed it to my friends and was like "Hey, you dare me to audition for this?" So I did and I got in and I fell in love with it. I got a lot of my friends to join the next year. In high school, I took a drama class, and then I went to college at Regis University in Denver. I went there because they're the only school that would let me play baseball and do a music major at the same time. I studied vocal performance, because I found out over time that I was a better singer than an actor.
I didn't expect to get drafted and play baseball. I was expecting to go be a struggling artist and try to make a career on Broadway, or just music in general, and then I got drafted. You can only play baseball for a finite amount of time, but you can do music forever. So I was like "I might as well try doing this," and here we are, almost nine years later, still playing. It's been a cool ride, but Broadway has become more like…music that I listen to, but I love it.
How did the album come to be?
I sang the National Anthem before a few of our games in Pittsburgh, and I had a producer in Los Angeles reach out. We started putting it together in 2018 and he was like "alright, give me a list of songs or shows that you would like to do stuff from," so I started with probably 100 songs and then kind of whittled them down.
I want to go track-by-track a little bit. Why "Wait for Me" from Hadestown?
That was a late addition. I thought it would be really cool to have something super current, and I love that whole show. I haven't seen it, but I've listened to it a million times. I can see everything happening in my head.
"Butter Outta Cream" from Catch Me If You Can.
On Spotify, they have lists of songs you may like, and one of them is always Broadway songs. The first song I heard from it was actually "Live in Living Color," and I was like "Oh, I like this guy's voice. It's jazzy." And then I saw it was Catch Me If You Can, and I love that movie. I fell in love with that album and I wanted to try it out.
"Defying Gravity" from Wicked, where you sing the Elphaba part and Caitlin Caporale sings Glinda.
I love Wicked, but the Fiyero part…like, what am I going to sing? "Dancing Through Life"? That's a six-minute song and he only sings like two minutes of it. So I thought "Defying Gravity" would be fun. I was originally looking at arranging it for two males, but then we decided that it would be cool if we changed the key and made it male and female, and it turned out great. My producer got in touch with Caitlin to see if she wanted to do it, and I went and watched her YouTube videos, and I was just blown away. She was on The Voice.
Do you still have Broadway dreams?
I always thought it would be awesome to be the Phantom, but I don't have a low voice so I don't think I could really pull that off well enough. I've never seen Chess, but I'd love to be in Chess in Concert. I got to do some cool stuff with the cast of Hadestown. Anaïs Mitchell reached out to me and we did a video of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and then I did "Wait for Me" with André De Shields, Reeve Carney, and the cast. That blew me away.
It was really funny; Adam Pascal sings on "Butter Outta Cream" and he came in and he was like "Hey, I've been listening to the track. When are you going to be in a show?" And I was like "Uh, that's like the nicest thing anybody's ever said to me, but I don't think ever." And he was like "You know, Chicago rotates through actors. You could absolutely do Chicago for a month or two during the off season." That might be a tough sell for my team, since you're kind of supposed to be getting ready for the season, so now it's just more of a hobby.
Is there a strong Broadway contingent hidden among Major League Baseball players that we don't know about?
There's more than you think. There's one guy on my team that's absolutely in love with Broadway. He saw Hamilton when it came into Pittsburgh, he's seen Dear Evan Hansen. And a lot of people really like theater but maybe don't keep up with it as much. I think everybody loves musicals. They just tug at your heart strings differently, you know?