Friday, April 6, 2012

TheatreScene Chat: Teddy and Alex: Life After Broadway

The Off-Broadway Logo
By most standards, the 2011 - 2012 theatre season was a very successful one for two young actors.  They both made their off-Broadway debuts in a critically acclaimed brand new musical.  That musical is written by a critically acclaimed playwright, Douglas Carter Beane and a relative new comer, but also highly regarded composer, Lewis Flinn.  They got to work with another "it guy," director/choreographer Dan Knechtges.  These guys have had the great fortune of not one, but two critical raves from The New York Times.  And the glory of making a Broadway debut, to many, the pinnacle of an acting career.  But they also know the agony of empty seats, low-grosses, and a sadly short run on the Great White Way.

The Broadway Logo
Now, two of the stars of Lysistrata Jones, Teddy Toye and Alex Wyse have been afforded a couple of ways to gain full closure with their biggest jobs to date: they just finished making the Original Broadway Cast Recording of the score, and soon they will reunite with their friends and cast mates for charity concerts of the show.

Recently, I had the opportunity to ask the guys about the ups and downs of the past year, missing their cast mates and the fun of recording a cast album.  In the following weeks, I'll be touching base with both young actors, as one embarks on his next job, joining a National Tour, and the other starts a new project altogether.


Question 1: 
I’m guessing that for you, professionally, the past year has been a roller coaster ride!  Tell us what it is like to make your Broadway debut.  How was it doing so with such a small company with a variety of New York experience?

Alex Wyse (AW):  When I got cast in Lysistrata Jones at the Judson Church, I was just thrilled to finally be making my off-Broadway debut. I never dreamed it would lead to a Broadway debut as well. I couldn’t believe it. It was always my dream, but I thought it was the kind of thing that happens to other people… not to me. I didn’t think I was one of the “chosen” ones. Then when I got there, I realized – oh – this is just a job.  It’s a great job, and I’m fortunate to be doing it… but this doesn’t make me “chosen,” and it’s not unattainable  It’s a job. What really made this past year for me was the people I got to do it with. So many of us made our Broadway debuts with LJ. And even those who had done Broadway shows, no one had played their own principal role before. So, in a sense, it felt like we were all making our Broadway debuts together. We were a tight group who went through it all together… the highs and lows – there were definitely both highs and lows.

Teddy Toye (TT):  Making my Broadway debut was amazing! I mean its been my dream job since I decided when I was in high school that theatre was what I was going to do for a living, and to say that I reached my goal at 22 years old I cant really complain. The greatest part about Broadway for me honestly was all the people I got to meet along the way. [Basketball Hall of Famer] Chris Mullin, [Broadway pundit] Rosie O'Donnell, [actor] Jason Biggsthese are all people I would have never have met on any other basis and be able to talk to them casually. I also think that having such a small company as we did was a gift because we were all able to get really close with each other. I know a lot about each of my cast mates, I don’t know if others can say that about their cast when they have 30-40 people in them.

"The first time I saw a subway ad for our show!"
- Alex Wyse

Question 2:
I personally loved Lysistrata Jones, both off-Broadway and on.  How did you feel about the show moving to Broadway?  Were you surprised at the audience (or lack of) response once the move was made?  How about the critical response that was overwhelmingly good vs the short run of the show?

Thanks! I was honestly shocked when we found out we we're transferring. They told us our closing night of the Off-Broadway run and it was one of those surreal moments, I couldn’t believe the words they were saying. I mean I loved the show and I knew we all put a lot of hard work into it but I mean, we were in a church basement off of West 4th Street! So it was definitely a big shocker! And, yeah , I was extremely surprised with the outcome of how many people were showing up to our Broadway run. When I thought of Broadway, I always thought of packed houses, but I guess that's really only the case nowadays when you have a "movie musical" or a "STAR" in your show to carry it through, neither of which we had. But at the end of the day, I’ll take the good reviews and a short run over terrible reviews and a long run. I feel like people in our industry respected our show and what we were bringing into the musical theatre world, so I guess that's all that matters to me in the end.

AW:  I mean… it was freakin’ incredible. I couldn’t believe we were all there, doing this wacky, heartfelt show together. I don’t think any of the cast members were surprised that we weren’t getting audiences. We didn’t have stars and we were a new show. That wasn’t news to any of us. But we were all very hopeful that it would turn around. We only wish there would have been the money to run the show so word of mouth could build. As far as the reviews, we were grateful to get the reviews we did, and we hoped it would bring in audiences.  But… life happens. And just as elated as I felt opening a show on Broadway – that’s about how sad I was to close a show on Broadway. It was tough… but the experience was unlike any I’ve had. And I’ll carry those lessons with me forever.

Alex and Teddy in their
Broadway dressing room

Question 3:
I e-interviewed both Josh (Segarra) and Lindsay Nicole (Chambers) during the run of the show, and both commented on how close the cast was.  Do all of you stay in touch?  Is everyone pretty much spread out now?

TT:  (Laughs.) Yeah, we're all really close with each other. I mean these people are some of my best friends! The guys try and make an effort to hang out whenever we get a chance with all of our crazy schedules!

AW:  I love those fools. We’re still hanging out, chatting online, texting.  Lots of texts. In fact, I can give you a clue here… I’ll be doing another show soon, with one of my cast members from LJ! That’s all I can say right now… but be excited!

The cover art for the
Original Broadway Cast Recording

Question 4:
So, I know all of us LJ fans are super excited that you are making a cast recording!  What is your feeling on this?  Are looking forward to going back to your character, if even just for the day?  How do you think this will affect the future of the show?

AW:  It’s my first original cast album!! AH! I love being in a studio… probably because no one cares how you look. That’s liberating. Right?  Also, I’m excited to see everyone again, and sing these fun tunes. And having a permanent record of the show will certainly help get it licensed, which will be so great for Doug (Carter Beane) and Lewis (Flinn). I can’t wait to take a road trip with the boys to see a regional production of the show we originated. That would be SICK.

TT:   I was extremely happy when they told us we were going to be doing this. Being on a original Broadway cast recording is one of those "bucket list" items that ive always wanted to do. And its going to be a blast, I mean im going back in with all my best friends to just document this show that we worked so hard on and I think it will def expand the life of the show to the people who weren't able to see the show. I remember I would listen to the cast album of Assassins all the time when it first came out, even though I never got to see the show, it painted the picture enough for me to really get into it. 

The Men of Lysistrata Jones at the recording session:
(L to R): Alexander Aguilar, Ato Blankston Wood, Alex Wyse,
Teddy Toye, Jason Tam and Josh Segarra

Question 5:
Finally, would you tell us about the experience, first-hand, of making an Original Broadway Cast Recording?

AW:  Alright, now I’m back from the studio. It was SO MUCH FUN! We recorded all the guys and girls’ stuff separately. Girls got the first half of the day, we got the second half. We overlapped in the middle for a couple hours. We laughed, we made dick jokes over the mics… the usual things, you know? I imagine this is what Bernadette Peters does when she records. And then we got Q’Doba on our dinner break. The queso sauce… I can’t even.

TT:  It was awesome! We met up in the morning at the studio, the girls got to record their stuff first. We went in, Ato [Blankston Wood] and Jason Tam were in the same little booth as me, but the other guys were across the room and I could only hear them in my headphone. We went through each track and did all the little fillers and things a few times for each songs along with our adlibs and stuff like that, and then we were done. It was surprising a quick process but a lot of fun in the making of it. 

AW:  In all seriousness - recording our album along with the concerts we’re doing next week is such a meaningful way to close out one of the experiences of a lifetime.

(Photos courtesy of  Alex Wyse.  Cast recording image from

  • Click HERE for my review of Lysistrata Jones off-Broadway.
  • Click HERE for my review of Lysistrata Jones on Broadway.
  • Click HERE for my interview with Josh Segarra.
  • Click HERE for my interview with Lindsay Nicole Chambers.

@jkstheatrescene (Twitter); (email); Comment below (Blogger)

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