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Well, my "little vacation" ended up lasting two and a half years... funny how life steers your life in directions you weren't planning on. I'll start off with occasional posts, but I fully plan to resume this blog to full speed by the new year.

I hope you'll come back for frequent visits, to see new reviews, to share opinions, to take a survey (or two), and to celebrate the shows and show people that have made the TheatreScene!

Jeff

Friday, December 9, 2011

TheatreScene Chat: An Interview with JOSH SEGARRA from LYSISTRATA JONES (Part 1)

Recently, the folks over at Lysistrata Jones contacted me about the opportunity to interview cast members of the show now in previews at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway.  How could I say no?  Especially since that opportunity gives me a chance to share a great chat I had with Josh Segarra, who stars as Mick, the Captain of the Basketball Team at Athens University.  In the show, Mick's girl , Lyssie Jones and her cheerleader girlfriends lay down the law: win a game or go without sex!

In this first part of my chat with Josh, he talks candidly about the pressure of opening a new show on Broadway, rumors on the Internet and social networking, and what it is like to take over a role from one of The Book of Mormon boys.  Enjoy!


Thank you so much for agreeing to “talk” with me for JK’s TheatreScene’s first-ever Broadway interview series!


Jeff Kyler:  Last summer, when Lysistrata Jones was at the Gym, was there a lot of Broadway buzz or is this transfer somewhat of a surprise?  What was it like to “get the call” that the show was making the leap?


Josh Segarra:  Well, after about a week or so of the run, there were a few murmurs of the move to Broadway, but every show you ever do says it’s going to Broadway, so you quickly learn to ignore those murmurs until they come true. But when they became a reality, I mean, I jumped for joy along with the rest of the cast. Then of course, after one night of pure joy, you start wondering if they’re gonna keep you or go and hire some untalented celebrity to replace you. Or talented… who knows? (Laughs)


JK:  You joined the show starting last summer, right?  You took over the role formerly played by The Book of Mormon’s Andrew Rannells, I believe.  Have you had any contact with Andrew about the role?


JS:  To start, no contact with Andrew. He’s pretty busy with that little show he’s doing and all. (Laughing)…no, actually, I just met Andrew on the street and we exchanged “hello’s” and off we went.

JK: Were you given a lot of freedom to make the part your own, or was it case of jumping on a running train and figuring out how to make it work?  


JS:  I was given a lot of freedom because Andrew and I are completely different people and definitely bring two different approaches to the part. What was most important to me right off the bat was making sure that everyone in the audience believed Mick could really play basketball, because I have played basketball my whole life. I wanted people to walk in thinking that these little actor boys weren’t going to be athletic and watch their faces as I dribbled and dunked. I still look forward to it every day.  But I don’t even think about how Andrew played it before. Shoot!  If I did, I’d feel pretty crappy about my vocals every day. That kid can SING!!!!

Josh Segarra as Mick and Patti Murin as Lysistrata Jones

JK:  Lysistrata Jones, both the show and the character, are extremely tech-savvy, what with their MacBooks, iPads, iPhones, etc.  Modern technology is playing a larger and larger role in the promotion and advertising of Broadway shows.  Heck, you wouldn’t be talking to me even three years ago.  Obviously, social networking, Internet websites and the immediacy of it all has its benefits and issues.  How has all of this technology affected the show?  


JS:  I don’t personally get involved too much in the tech world. I mean, I have a Facebook page, but Twitter is a lot of pressure to be funny and Linkedin or whatever that is just is way too much. Even Facebook is just something funny to waste time on. I’ve never been one to make a fan page or make people keep up with what I’m doing. I just hope that one day I get big enough or interesting enough for someone else to say, “hey…he’s cool. I’ll make him a fan page.” (Laughing) ...if only it was that easy.

JK:  Do you read what people are saying?  


JS: I don’t like to read a lot of stuff about the show. I’m honestly really, really, really sensitive about what people have to say. I get my feelings hurt, and I know I shouldn’t.  But hey, that’s me and maybe one day I’ll change. Until then, no reading for me.

The Spartans plot their next move against the cheerleaders!

JK:  Lysistrata Jones is your Broadway debut.  Congratulations!  It must be exciting!  How has working with a cast that is about half and half Broadway “debuters” and "veterans" been?  What kinds of advice have you gotten from cast mates and friends who have gone through what you are going through?


JS:  The best advice I’ve gotten from the veterans is just seeing the way they conduct themselves. There is no right way to do this, just your OWN way, so I’ve taken a little bit from each and hopefully put together my best package, which is definitely still being tweaked. It is funny though, because you think that Broadway is some foreign being that you have to learn a whole new skill set to be able to accomplish, but now that I’m here, it’s really exactly the same thing we’ve been doing since grade school. Except now there’s just a lot more pressure which is where the experience comes into play. The veterans know how the system works a little more, while the newbies let the emotions get to us a little more. I think I’ve found my balance though. It’s funny because people keep asking me if I’m nervous, and truly, all I can say is, “why be nervous?” Whatever I’ve done so far has worked, so why change it now? I just have to stay confident in myself and trust in my unbelievably talented cast.

JK:  Both times I saw Lysistrata Jones, it struck me just how much fun it looks like all of you are having.  Is it is fun as it looks?  


JS:  Yeah, the show is a lot of fun. Sure, there are some days that we are exhausted and maybe have to put it on a little more for everyone to see that we still are having a lot of fun. But the end of the show is the most exhausting part and you’re thinking about it the whole time until it gets there.

JK:  Not only are you creating a role in a brand new Broadway show, you are doing so in a show written by “it guy” Douglas Carter Beane!  What has it been like to work with him?  Do you find that there is a certain way to approach his works as opposed to others?


JS:  Doug’s writing is so specific. There are many times that I’ll be looking and looking for a joke, and it’s been right under my nose the whole time. Just say the words and it will land. Doug is great about seeing what works and if it doesn’t, [we] get it out of there. But he also is DOUG BEANE and you gotta respect the man and listen to him. He knows what he likes and sometimes you gotta make it work, even if it makes you uncomfortable every single day.  (Laughs)  He’ll hate me for saying that. That are sometimes that I want to make the “wokka wokka wokka” face from The Muppets after a joke if it doesn’t land. But hey, it’s live theatre. That’s what I signed up for!

Mick and the team show off their best moves!

Josh Segarra (far right) and the Men of Lysistrata Jones

JK:   It will probably be impossible to answer this without giving away some of the plot, but… what is your favorite part of Mick’s story?  He goes through some pretty big changes!  Do you have a specific Mick moment that you look forward to every night?  What is your favorite non-Mick moment in the show?


JS:  I really do have a lot of favorite moments. My favorite Mick moment is the scene with Liz Mikel in the brothel. That woman is a genius and truly hilarious. Sometimes that scenes gets some really good response, and sometimes, that scene gets the loudest laughs I’ve ever heard in my entire life. The other night, she landed a joke and people were actually SCREAMING at the stage. Like at a football game, just yelling in laughter at the stage. I loved it.

And my favorite non-Mick, is Tyllus’ line, “Im the only black person here, why do you all talk this way?” People love that. It’s probably the one joke in the whole show that has always, and I mean, always, landed. Or when I walk in on the guys pinching each others’ nips! (Laughs) I love that.! Or the slo-mo at the end. See?  There’s a bunch!

CLICK HERE FOR PART II!




COMING UP IN PART II OF TheatreScene CHAT WITH JOSH SEGARRA OF LYSISTRATA JONES:
  • Josh on jobs in children's television and a new musical called Fat Camp!
  • Josh on stripping on Broadway 8 shows a week!
  • Josh on how it's like a frat house backstage at Lysistrata Jones at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
  • Josh on meeting an NBA Hall of Famer and how sports and plays combined to make him want to be an actor!
  • PLUS a special message from Mick, Captain of The Men's Basketball Team at Athens University!
(All production photos of Lysistrata Jones on Broadway by Joan Marcus)



NOTE: Josh Segarra is currently playing Mick in the new musical comedy Lysistrata Jones at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway.  Click HERE to go to the show website and the link HERE to purchase discount tickets.  Trust me, you won't be sorry... it is a RIOT!  And Josh is so funny in it!



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Jeff
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