Wednesday, November 7, 2012

JKTS Chat: Chaplin's Wayne Alan Wilcox (Part 2)

The first part of my chat with Wayne Alan Wilcox covered a lot of his early career, including his New York debut in Suddenly Last Summer, his Broadway debut in Coram Boy and up to his drag turn in Priscilla Queen of the Desert.  (Click HERE for Part 1)  Today, I give you part two of this insightful interview in which Wilcox dishes on Carrie, his own experience with bullying and his current role as Sydney Chaplin in Chaplin.  Thanks, Mr. Wilcox!

JEFF KYLER (JK): OK, let’s talk Carrie.  It was one of my favorite experiences last season.  Tell me about your role.  It wasn’t in the original version, was it?  Why was your role added? 
WAYNE ALAN WILCOX (WW):  Yeah, my role was added.  They needed a male “good cop.”  I thought it was very smart to add a male teacher.  Margaret wasn’t a supportive mother; Miss Gardner was new to the school.  By adding a teacher who was generally liked by the students, and could talk to the guys the way Miss Gardner talked to the girls, the writers grounded their story a bit more.  They also gave more of a presence to the world outside the girls’ locker room.  

Carrie's Boys: Wilcox (right) with the male cast of the show

JK: As I recall, your character was part of a key plot point for poor Carrie and the noble Tommy…  How do you feel about how your role turned out and the experience as a whole?
WW: For me, it fleshed out the story and gave the show a bigger scope.  It became a show about bullies, and less of a horror flick.  I liked playing the teacher that all the girls (and one boy, tee hee) had a crush on.

JK: There was a lot of scrutiny surrounding that production!  What, for you, was the best part of being involved in such a beloved-by-fans and chomping-at-the-bit-media show like Carrie
WW: The fans came OUT!  That was cool to see – how many people have always just loved this show.  The album just came out - yay! – And it’s been great to see how well people have responded to it.

JK: What was the biggest challenge?
WW: The biggest challenge – accepting the fact that I am now playing a high school TEACHER, instead of a high school STUDENT! Grrr! Time goes by…

JK: With Carrie, you got to work with several up-and-comers, like Molly Ranson, Derek Klena, and Andy Mientus.  What do you hope they took away from working with more experienced actors like you? 
WW: Jeez, I don’t know.  I felt like we were all just supporting each other.  I guess they could get from me that they don’t have to hurry up and have a career before they get to be 29.  Because it won’t be over by then.

JK: What did you learn from them?
WW: From them, I certainly learned the art of bravery.  They are fearless.  It was inspiring to watch their choices.

Brotherly Love: Rob McClure and Wayne Alan Wilcox
in a scene from Chaplin

JK:  You get to play the plum role of Charlie Chaplin’s brother, Sydney, in Chaplin.  There is probably a ton of information, not to mention the films of Chaplin for Rob McClure to study and learn from.  Was it easy or difficult to find out about your character? 
WW: It was actually a lot easier to research Sydney than I thought.  He has a great biography.  That was and still is my bible.  He became a film actor, too. [He] made a lot of films.

JK: How did you go about researching the role? 
WW: I’ve seen and continue to watch [all of his films].  Charlie’s autobiography has been helpful to get more of an insight on his feelings for Sydney. 

Opening Night at Chaplin

The Cast of Chaplin cuts up with an #SIP

The Principal Cast of Chaplin on Opening Night

JK: How close to reality do you think your Sydney is to the real one?
WW: How close I get to Sydney in reality, well that’s anybody’s guess.  But I know how he felt about his brother, and I copied his movements, expressions, ticks, etc., where I could.
JK: What is your favorite part of the show?
WW: There’s a scene in our little big skit [where] I go to LA to visit Charlie after he’s started to become famous, and I do a little walk that’s meant to be mugging on Charlie’s tramp shuffle.  But actually, it’s the same walk Sydney invented when he made a movie called The Big ‘Ole, which was based on a character he made up when he was on the vaudeville circuit as a kid.


JK: I saw your backstage segment on  First of all, is your dressing room as cramped as it looks? 
WW: She’s a tiny dressing room, but she’s not quite as small as she looks on TV.

JK: How do you like to relax before and between shows?
WW: I write a lot before shows.  I also have this warm-up that I stick to.  Liz Caplan taught it to me, and it’s gotten to the point now that if I don’t do it, I don’t feel ready for my show.  I do it before every single performance.  Sometimes I hate it.  I still do it.

JK: Your sense of humor shines through in the piece - are you a cast cut-up backstage?
WW: Hmmmm.  I like to see people laugh.  If I’m the one that made them laugh, so be it.  They deserved it.

Bare... and Broadway Bares!

JK: Is there anything career-wise, that you have no interest in doing?  Anything you won’t do or try?
WW: There’s a great line in the John Waters film Pink Flamingos. “Reporter: Divine, are you a lesbian?  Divine: Yes, I have done everything.”  I guess I have no interest in actually hurting anyone.  I have no interest in telling someone they can’t have the same human rights I have.  I have no interest in telling someone that they can’t see the person they love in the hospital.  Does that count?

JK: As I said at the start of this interview, you have had quite a couple of years career-wise.  You have gotten to work with some amazing actors, directors and writers.  Who have you worked with - both onstage and creatively - that you think will influence the rest of your career? 
WW: Joe Mantello, George C. Wolfe, Warren Carlyle, Mindy Tate, Darryl Roth, Amy Sheman-Palladino, Roger Reese…

Did you know that Wayne was the
original Fabrizio in Light in the
 (with Celia Keenan-Bolger!)?

The Full Monty at Paper Mill with no less
than the great Elaine Stritch!

JK: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
WW: In 5 years, I see my [name] on the marquee at the Barrymore Theatre, just as big as Rob’s is now in our show.  (I love you, bother!)  And I think people will come to the stage door after my show, and ask me where I came from.  And I’ll say, “Aww, I’ve always been here, doing what I do.”

Before I interviewed Mr. Wilcox, I Tweeted my followers asking for some short answer questions, and here are a few of them, from silly fun to pressing fan questions!

If you could be in any Broadway show currently playing or coming this season, which would it be?  Any particular role?  Dream role in any show?
Kiss of the Spider Woman.  Both roles!  Hamlet and Guido.

Do you have any superstitions?  Post-show indulgence?
Not really any superstitions just STAY HEALTHY.  Chocolate after the show.  Our door lady, Elena, gives me Take 5 bars, and I LOOOVVVEEE THEM!  And her!

The Great American Trailer Park Musical:
with Shuler Hensley, Orfeh and Linda Hart

Stage-dooring: You enjoy it? Dread it? Or is it just part of the job?
I love it.  It’s a kind of support for our show, and most of the audience just wants to let you know just how good they think you are.  It’s rewarding.                                                                                                                                       

I am a cliché - an actor who waits tables.  I hate it!  What is the worst job you have ever had?  Why?  Did it end badly?
We may do cliché things, but no one has ever been or will be a cliché.  We have too many distinct feelings.  Worst job I ever had was I worked in a factory in college that made rags and stuffed them into boxes. Booorrriiinnnggg!  Thank God, it was only for a summer!

"Will I Lose My Dignity?":
As Gordon in the film version of RENT

Big Carrie fan here!  Were you ever bullied or know someone who was?  If so, how did you deal with it?
I was bullied a lot in school.  I have many friends that were bullied, too.  I dealt with it by deciding that I was going to be better at something than they (the bullies) were, and by the time all of the bullshit of high school society wore off and we all grew up, that I was going to be more successful than they were.  That worked out.  And I decided that I was never going to make someone feel they way they made me feel.  Especially high school kids.

(If you want to ask questions to Broadway folks in the future, be sure to “follow” me on Twitter and watch for the question request!)

Video from; Photos: Chaplin photos by Joan Marcus, Getty Images, BC/EFA, The Full Monty photos by Linda Lenzi

Before you go...

...have you VOTED in this month's THEATRE POLL?  It is in the left column!
...have you VOTED in this week's HOT or NOT?  It's DROOD, PART 2: THE PRINCIPALS!  CLICK the show logo in the upper left column!
...have you checked this month's BROADWAY BOY, DROOD's WILL CHASE?  He's a pretty amazing guy!  CLICK his picture in the right hand column to find out more! 

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