What's life been like since winning the Tony for Million Dollar Quartet?
Busy. Thanks for asking. I moved back to the West Coast in March to begin my 4th studio album and plan the next tour. No down time yet: I'm looking forward to holiday season for that very reason. LOL.
Might you be doing the show out here in LA at some point in the near future?
I won't be, but I believe the touring cast has been decided and I know there are some remarkable triple threats coming to this coast. Personally, I would entertain a limited engagement with the Chicago cast. The Apollo Theatre has been running MDQ for nearly 3 years now. My fondest memories of the show are there.
Was Jerry Lee Lewis a real challenge for you to play? How did you prepare for him?
I had the opportunity of playing a 20-year-old Jerry Lee which allowed me to discover an entirely different angle from what we are used to seeing. Framing his brazen qualities with an not-yet-tarnished innocence was interesting for me. It allows the audience to see the purity of his soul, and really root for him. It was also lovely to finally have an outlet for the southern humor that has been a staple in my real life, and I loved working with Hunter. He is a great actor to learn from and grown with.
Tell me about Leading Men at the Ford - and the recent concert at the Rubicon. What did you sing and what will you be singing on the 16th?
I'm a big lover of New Works Programs. The Rubicon Theatre and the Village Theatre really have a commitment to that. I was grateful to have a sold out fundraiser this week. As far as the Leading Men of Broadway show, I kind of feel like it's play time. LOL. These guys are all so fun to perform with. I haven't met Brandon Victor Dixon yet. I'm excited for that: I know he's a really talented man. Truly, this is going to be a one-of-a-kind evening. Personally, my most anticipated moment is singing "For Good" with David Burnham. I've always adored that man's heart.
I understand the new CD is different from your previous ones. How so?
Perhaps playing the role of Jerry Lee brought a wild abandon out of me. I have finally managed to stop taking career so damn seriously. We are put on this earth to absolutely love what we do and do it uniquely. My only concern anymore (thank you Mr. Quincy Jones) is vibrating at the highest level of excellence that I possibly can. Nothing else matters. When this becomes tarnished by an obsessive need for approval, you forfeit your greatness. A Tony Award will never be "that thing" you need to "believe in yourself" if you don't believe in yourself right where you are! Self-love is the theme of this new album. The entire execution of the writing, recording, and marketing not only invites a higher vision of excellence, but an individuality that is me and me alone. I've been recording since I was 15 years old, and I'm having more fun right now than I have ever had in my life. I also find that my heart for our LGBTQ youth is expanding to a call for action. I'm not sure what that looks like for me yet, but I know they are the inspiration behind the new songs.
Tell me about your association with Del Shores. Didn't you compose music for Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife?
The amazing Joe Pat Ward composed music for ...Housewives. I composed music for a play prior to ...Housewives called Southern Baptist Sissies. It was about 4 boys in the Baptist church, each dealing with the religion vs homosexuality conflict in four very different ways. I had just moved to Los Angeles, and friends of mine drug me into the Zephyr Theatre to see it. By intermission I was nearly on the floor in a fetal position, balling my eyes out. After 6 years of "reparative therapy" to become 'straight", and living with the angst of a young man with a passion for God, yet being an "abomination" to God at the same time, it was very healing to see this piece. I met Del that night. He invited me to see it as many times as I needed to help process the pain. I must have come back 36 times. Eventually, I wrote the theme song for the piece, "Stained Glass Window", which won me an Outmusic Award and is featured on my last CD "Where I Belong".
If I'm not mistaken, your music from the past has been of a very spiritual nature? Tell me about your background and how music affected you growing up?
The first record I ever remember hearing was Mahalia Jackson. My grandaddy played it for me, along with Andrae Crouch. Gospel is nothing more than putting your deepest convictions to song. No pretense, no show, no polish. It's raw emotion and complete connection. That's how I cut my teeth, so baring my soul in song will always be the way I have to do it. It's all I know. I know it's also helped me find an authenticity as an actor.
What's up next? Another show? More concerts?
Taking the time to pour my best efforts into a new album followed by touring domestically and overseas. I also plan to spend more time discovering where I can be of service to our LGBTQ youth.
Anything else you care to share with us?
Yes I do have something to add as a matter of fact. Just a couple of quick love letters. I send my sincerest thank you to Ms. Whoopi Goldberg for being gracious, supportive, and kind during my time on Broadway. You will never know the inspiration you've been to me. To all my B'way friends, I miss you. Keep doing you! You're the best one for the job._ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
New York’s Finest: The Leading Men of Broadway will play one performance only, on Friday, September 16, at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Boulevard East, in Los Angeles, 90068. Showtime is 8:30pm, and tickets are on sale now. Admission is $40 for reserved seating, and a $75 VIP package includes premium seating, post-performance artist meet and greet, and much more. Student and senior discounts are also available. To purchase tickets, call (323) 461-3673. Tickets for reserved seating purchased prior to September 9 receive a $5 discount.