Gavin Creel is currently starring as 'Elder Price' in the first National Tour of THE BOOK OF MORMON. The actor is a two time Tony nominee for Hair and Thoroughly Modern Millie. He has also appeared in the 2004 Broadway revival of La Cage Aux Folles, the Goodman Theatre/Kennedy Center production of Bounce, as well as Hair and MARY POPPINS on the West End. Most recently he was seen in the title role of the American Repertory Theater production of 'Prometheus Bound', and has also starred alongside Julie Andrews in the television movies, "Eloise at the Plaza" and "Eloise at Christmastime."
In THE BOOK OF MORMON, Creel takes on the role of 'Elder Price,' one of a pair of mismatched Mormon boys sent on a mission to a place that's about as far from Salt Lake City as you can get. The National Tour will travel to over fifteen cities during the 2012-2013 season. The multi-talented actor chatted with BWW about why he is "blissfully happy" performing in this outrageous, yet heart-warming production.
Congratulations on the national tour Gavin!
I was thinking about how your two most recent roles are really on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. How do you transition from a 1960's Vietnam-era Hippie to a modern-day Mormon missionary?
Good question! I was thinking about how 'Hair' and 'Book of Mormon' are similar in some ways as far as what they've meant to the musical theater canon. You know at the time, 'Hair' was a very topical piece. You would turn on the TV and see the news and then go to the theater and the same thing was happening on stage with 'Hair'. And we were trying to think, where does 'Book of Mormon' fit in the scheme of this musical theater canon. And in a way, it's kind of doing the same thing. Unlike a lot of other musicals it's very topical, it's about what's going on in the world right now. I mean weirdly enough, our presidential candidate has his religion and belief systems and it's set today, so it's exciting that way.
And I think that as far as characters go, yeah, they're very different, although the similarity is that they are both very conflicted, although Elder Price doesn't know it until the play starts to unravel and I guess Claude didn't really either but he just hadn't addressed it. As far as the worlds they're in, obviously they are very different and I love that my career has afforded me the opportunity to go from very different characters and very different people. I'm grateful for that.
That's so interesting. Who would have thought that you could draw parallels between the two shows, but I absolutely agree with you.
Well from the wide view there's parallels, when you look at the specifics...
Not so much!
(laughing) Yeah. But I like to think of how exciting it is to be in a piece that kind of pushes buttons, and both of those pieces have done that, so maybe that's my niche - something with energy which also pushes people's buttons.
I'm sure you had a chance to see 'Book of Mormon' on Broadway. What was your reaction the first time you saw it? Was it, 'this is something I'd love to get involved in'?
I mean I loved it, don't get me wrong, but I never thought I would be in it. I saw it and I thought, 'that's something that's happening over there and it's happening with my friends.' I just never considered that it would be a part that might come up for me. And I love that about life, how it keeps surprising me, you know?
I have good friends who convinced me to take a look at it a little closer and said, 'you'd be an idiot not to do this show.' But again, it's kind of like a life lesson, and I think making a plan for your life is sort of futile. I would have kept a really incredible opportunity at bay because of what - my ego? my plan? And what has happened is something that's just been better than anything I could have imagined. I feel really lucky.