In this first of a two-part interview, Derek talks about his brush with American Idol, leaving UCLA for a chance at a NY stage role, and what it was like telling his coach and teammates that he was leaving the pitcher's mound for microphone and stage.
Jeff Kyler: So, this is your New York debut - what a way to start your career on the East Coast! I understand you took time off from UCLA to do Carrie. Was that a difficult decision or a no-brainer?
Derek Klena: When I started school I knew that if I did book something out in NY or a tour of some kind that I would take time off school, so it wasn’t a very hard decision once I got the offer for Carrie that I wanted to take the opportunity to perform in such a special production in NY.
JK: How important is it to you to finish up after Carrie is over?
DK: It is important to me to go back to school and finish up my degree in Psychology at some point whether it is sooner or later.
|Pitching in High School|
JK: In addition to your studies at UCLA and doing lots of regional theatre, I’ve read you play baseball, too. Do you still play for UCLA?
DK: My freshman year at UCLA I played on the baseball team, not really knowing if I wanted to pursue theater as a career. But after that first year I knew I wanted to keep acting and performing, so I stopped playing baseball and started auditioning around Southern California.
|Derek's regional theatre credits include|
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
|The L.A. premiere of Glory Days|
MCC Theater's production of Carrie continues at the Lucille Lortel Theatre through April 22.
Coming soon in Part 2: Derek talks about the Carrie experience, preparing for a new take on an old flop, and just how amazing Marin Mazzie is!
(Photos from UCLA.edu, MCC Theater, Getty Images)
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