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Welcome to THE FRIDAY SIX: Q&As With Your Favorite Broadway Stars. Want to know what hooked them to a career in the theater? Their dream roles? Their Broadway crushes? Read on!
In this week's edition, we caught up with Andrew Samonsky, who is starring as 'Harold McPherson' and 'Kenneth Ormiston' in Scandalous- currently in previews at the Neil Simon Theatre, and opening on November 15.
What is the first Broadway show you ever saw?
My parents raised me on a healthy dose of regional theater in southern California, but the first show I ever saw on Broadway was RENT. I didn't know much about the show, except that it was very popular and everyone told me I had to see it. My friend and I splurged to sit in the third row. At the top of the show, I vividly remember the actors entered the stage, and suddenly the entire audience went absolutely nuts, screaming and roaring. You might have thought The Rolling Stones were taking the stage. It was awesome. And that was only the beginning!
What is your most unique pre-show ritual?
Well, I guess I haven't heard of anyone else needing to do this, but as a vocal warm up, I've always enjoyed vocalizing in the bathroom. As I hear myself say that now, I understand why it isn't a bandwagon that people are hopping on. Hey, don't ask me why, but bathrooms always have the best acoustics! They sound like cathedrals, but more aromatic. If I don't sound good in the bathroom, it's time to contemplate calling out. Just check the stalls before you go for the high notes.
What is your most memorable "the show must go on" moment?
We were in previews during South Pacific and I was Matthew Morrison's understudy, and he started to get sick. Now understand, understudies don't start rehearsing their parts until after the show opens, and because of my own rehearsals, there were sections of Matt's show that I had never even seen. So, as Matt's illness grew, so did my anxiety, which was only intensified since this was my Broadway debut. I had heard rumors of understudies going on without rehearsal, but I thought, "Haha, that can't be true." So, I decided to ask our stage manager what would happen if Matt called out and he said, "Well, we just throw you up there." Hahaha... umm. what??
The next morning, Saturday, the phone rang at 9am and I immediately knew what was happening. Matt was out and I was on for the matinee. I was at the theater by 11am, and they taught me whatever I hadn't learned on my own yet, and before I knew what hit me, the overture had started and soon after I was singing a duet with Kelli O'Hara. Admittedly, instead of acting all I could think was "I'm singing a duet with Kelli O'Hara right now." Sur. real. I ended up being on the whole weekend. And no one was killed. Success.
What is the one role you want to play before you die?
Oh my, there are plenty of classic shows out there already with roles that I would love to play: Oklahoma!, Carousel, Sweeney Todd, Company... But, I've been lucky these passed couple years to originate some amazing roles in various new shows from Little Miss Sunshine to Tales of the City to Queen of the Mist and now Scandalous. And to be a part of the creative process from the beginning is what I've found to be the most rewarding. So I think, I hope, perhaps the best is yet to come. May that one role I want to play before I die not come for a long time, because I enjoy being alive.
Who is your Broadway crush and why?
Well, in the real world, I am a one woman kind of guy, but I am a polygamist in the Broadway world. Here's just a few (in no particular order). And lemme just say that I have incredible taste... (1) Celia Keenen Bolger in Peter and the Starcatcher. This was one of my favorite shows in many years, and as the only woman in the cast, it's hard to comprehend how the tiny Celia can radiate such immense joy. I had the great pleasure of working with her in Merrily We Roll Along at New York City Center and she is one of the most beautiful people alive, inside and out. (2) Betsy Wolfe in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I befriended Betsy doing Tales of the City and it was clear this woman was something very special. She simply has it all. I had the lucky honor of seeing her voted as the murderer in Drood and she floored the entire audience. Watch out, Earth! (3) Then there is our very own Carolee Carmello. It is truly remarkable what she does every night at the Neil Simon. I love watching other people watch Carolee. Their jaws literally drop. There is nothing to do but sit back and soak in as much of her as you can. As if her talent wasn't enough, she is one of the most down to earth, hard working, fun, and intelligent persons I have ever met. She is a "must see" event!
Where can people stalk you online?
I believe I am the only "Andrew Samonsky" in the United States, and perhaps the planet, so a simple google search works pretty well. I'm just getting hang of tweeting (but not in bathrooms), so follow me @samonsky!