The Pickwyck chatted with Conor Ryan about staring, alongside Kate Baldwin, in the revival of the Andrew Lippa musical, john & jen, to how he first got involved in theater in this new interview!
How did you first get started in theater? What is your earliest memory of theater?
- "Preschool. Putting on little plays at playtime. Ordering the other children to do this and that. Assigning roles. Essentially a horrifyingly Type A and artistically inclined toddler."
When did you realize you have a passion for performing?
- "Honestly, I don't know when this really happened. Or if there ever was a particular moment. It was always pretty innate for me. I do remember one instance while playing Snoopy in "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown." I was singing "Suppertime" on top of the dog house and sort of thought to myself: I think I like this. Yes, I like this a lot. Ironically, Andrew Lippa was also involved in that show."
In john & jen you get to play two characters, what is it like to play this kind of duality?
- "It's wonderful. For me, Act 1 and Act 2 are like two separate plays. I hit the reset button at Intermission. I've really enjoyed finding the individual personality of each John."
What is most rewarding as an actor to be able to bring both these characters stories to life?
- "I've never had quite so much material in one piece before. It's a huge opportunity for an actor, and I feel incredibly grateful every single day I perform the show. The rewarding part of having so much material to deal with is getting to employ so much of my range as an actor. I get to develop two separate men from infancy to adulthood every night! What could be better than that?"
Why should people go see the show? What do you want your audience to take away from this show?
- "People should see the show because Kate Baldwin is a goddess. They should take away that no one will ever be more impressive or beautiful than Kate Baldwin. Also, the show is incredibly emotional and relatable to anyone with a family. PS - that's everyone."
Could you tell us a little bit about the production so far and the reception it has received from audiences?
- "I think it's going well! Then again, I don't much experience with this type of thing and am very new to New York City and professional theater. However, I'd say the overall reaction of our audiences has been overwhelmingly emotional. I think the lights come down at the end of each act and people don't really know what to do. The heart and tragedy of the show sort of seem to catch people by surprise, and that's pretty exciting!"
What was the rehearsal process for this production like?
- "An absolute blast. The rehearsal room could not have been a more supportive and safe environment. Kate never once treated me less than an equal, which is absurd because, like I said, she is divine and I am mortal. Our creative team are the most lovely, gracious people on the planet, and Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald, our composer/lyricist team were around to chime in and make changes to the piece. It just could't have been a more positive and rewarding time."
What is it like having to carry this production with only two actors, having to convey this heavily emotional story?
- "I must say it really is exhausting. I've never done a two-person musical before. We basically don't ever leave the stage, and when we do, it is for just enough to time to change into a new costume and maybe, maybe, take a sip of water. The show is like running a mini marathon every night. It is physically taxing and emotionally taxing, but the pay off is so incredibly rejuvenating. Audiences give back what we give them, and that's what keeps the show alive. And us too!"
What is your dream role?
- "Too many to count. I've always loved the Emcee in Caberet. Also, anything Adam Guettel, Frabrizio, Floyd Collins, etc. But really, my main goal is to create new roles and to leave my own individual mark as an actor."
Who would you like to co-star/star along side of in a show?
- "Kate Baldwin. Also, Kate Baldwin. Oh, and Kate Baldwin, too. There are too many incredible actors to even begin for this one. Who comes to mind? Meryl Streep? Daniel Day Lewis? Bernadette Peters? Audra McDonald? Too many!"
What are you most passionate about?
- "Being a good friend. And my career."
Who would be you switch places with for one day?
- "Despite my life feeling unbelievably fortunate and surreal right now as it is, if could be someone else for the day I'd like to see what it'd feel like to be...Beyonce."
What is your favorite TV show, Movie and Book?
- "TV show is Game Of Thrones/House of Cards. Movie, American Beauty. Book, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon."
What is your biggest fear?
- "Losing my loved ones. Being alone. Ruining my reputation by doing something stupid. Being a bad person. Leaving the world before I've done everything I want to do."
What was your most embarrassing moment onstage?
- "Once, in a production of The Pirates Of Penzance, my pants ripped right up the butt. These pants they out me in, they were SO tight that I could only wear a dance belt underneath, no underwear. You do the math. It happened right at the top of Act 1. I was playing Frederick, who doesn't leave the stage. I had to do the entire act without turning around. It was like Frederick in 2D."
What has been the most invaluable advice you have received over the years?
- "My Granny always said: Kill em' with kindness."