Chat it Up: Alex Wyse

Isn't Alex Wyse just the most pitch-perfectly fabulous being ever? I channeled my inner-Hardy Boys and got him on the phone to talk about some very important issues meant to inform the children of the lands...stuff like what was is like to play a white guy who thinks he is black in Lysistrata Jones, the wonder of getting dry-humped by a pseudo-tranny dinosaur (kind of) and our diva-love for Lindsay Nicole Chambers. You know, amongst the important things.

Alex was so darling and hilarious that if everyone's day started off with a phone call from him, there would be no need for anti-depressants or caffeine. His business cards should read "Alex Wyse...the cure for common sadness." Check him out on Twitter and you can see him BRING IT in Triassic Parq, playing until August 5th at the SoHo Playhouse.

NRNW: Thank you for taking time out of your schedule for doing this; I really appreciate it.
Alex Wyse: I am so happy to; thank you for asking me.

NRNW: I have been buzzing about Triassic Parq since I saw it; I think it is great.
AW: Thanks! It is great to hear that.

NRNW: So, how did you get your start in performing?
AW: I was always performing. From the time I was a little kid, I was doing plays at youth theater and community theater. I was always pretty dead-set on wanting to do it. Then, I went to school for it and then moved to New York about three years ago. I hit the ground running and…you know, sometimes I sleep *laughs*. It was always in my life; my parents exposed me to it and took me to shows and my grandmother took me to lots of Broadway shows. It was always in my consciousness and always something I loved and wanted to be apart of.

NRNW: That’s awesome! You also wrote the musical Nighttime Traffic. Do you see yourself writing or directing more in the future?
AW: I don’t know; I can’t even tell you what I am doing next week, let alone the future *laughs*. I don’t have any grand scheme for that; I hope to continue to write and to continue to act and I’m going where the wind takes me. My dad always said to me, “Throw all of this sh** against the wall and eventually, some of it sticks.” I am just throwing stuff out there and going where the world seems to want me to go…so far, I haven’t died yet, so things are going okay!

NRNW: Wise father! *Laughs* Okay, on to Lysistrata Jones…I thought your Todd/Cinesias was spot-on. How challenging was that to play eight times a week?
AW: It was actually really easy to play a kid who thought he was black because I…you know, I know all the lyrics to Dreamgirls and my impressions are spot-on *laughs*. What was really crazy and hard about that show was all the dancing; I am more of an actor and a singer. It was very “awkward boy trying to walk,” especially in the beginning when we were doing it off-Broadway. It was killing me; I broke my finger in rehearsal and I didn’t even know if I was going to make it to opening night. But I worked really really hard and eventually, got the hang of it for the most part. The physical endurance required was crazy, you know, catching basketballs and…I’m not that coordinated; it was nuts. By the time we were finishing up on Broadway, I felt like, “Okay. I can do this. I can finally go through “You Go Your Way.”

NRNW: That was some complicated choreography too, like sliding under people’s legs and stuff…
AW: Oh my God, that was crazy! Every day before the show, I would go on to the stage and as a part of my warm-up, I would do that little dribble between my legs…that was the death of me. Actually, if you look at the Lincoln Center archive video, that was one of the performances that I fumbled and the ball rolled behind me and I am like, “Oh damn it; that will live forever.”

NRNW: *Laughs* I need to get my hands on this video now!
AW: Oh God, please don’t…I am afraid to watch it. I am going to stay away from it and listen to the cast recording and they make us sound great!

NRNW: What was your favorite song from that show?
AW: My favorite song to do was “Lay Low” because…it was really interesting; it was like the boys were all in our own show. The girls were in their show and the boys were in our show and rarely did the two mix. Then, I had my scenes with LaQuet [Sharnell], who played my girlfriend. It was really fun to do “Lay Low” when we got to be on stage and be the boys together and celebrate that. We always had a blast at that. Also, doing “Give it Up,” the last song, was so much fun because you finally get through the show and it felt like a celebration of having done the show. We could just let caution go to the wind.

NRNW: I really like that song too, especially because I really like extravagant costumes and I thought the show had a really satisfying conclusion.
AW: Yeah, it was really fun. It was a good time; I was pretty sad that the show was short-lived, but it was really special and I am glad I got to do it.

NRNW: What was your fondest memory of the show’s run. Was it opening night or…did someone famous come back stage or..?
AW: My favorite memory…maybe opening night, or even the first preview. The feeling of “Oh my God; I just did a Broadway show.” I can tell my grandchildren one day that I was in a Broadway show; that was really lovely. I came to all of this as a fan and I still am such a fan. It always kind of blows my mind that I am apart of this whole community right now in my own way. My mind can’t quite handle it…I am still the kid who was listening to the Merrily [We Roll Along] soundtrack at 13 and collecting Playbills…that was me. So, I got to say that I was there and that was huge for me.

NRNW: Wonderful! So, let’s talk Triassic Parq…is the Velociraptor of Innocence as much to play as it looks?
AW: YES! The best part of this whole thing - every writer of the show, every designer, every cast member, of course - I love every person who is in that room and a part of all that. I am working with some of the coolest people I have ever worked with, so when we are up there on that stage and it is this fun, funny and energizing show…it just feels like we are in this crazy thing together and it feels really good.

It is interesting for me because I interact with the audience members the least and who makes the fewest jokes and serve as a different function. Marshall [Pailet], our director, is an absolute genius. The guy is 25 years old and has one of the clearest visions I have ever seen from a director. He is so confident, intelligent, specific, nurturing and patient and he helped us with these people’s relationships with each other and what is actually happening in a scene…once we had a pretty good foundation, we would start to layer elements of comedy and timing and pacing on top. It felt very organic and I feel that the product we are putting out there to the audience is really polished. Everytime, the shows come from a really genuine place, that is because Marshall was able to guide us there…I respect that a lot.

NRNW: One thing that struck me was how polished the presentation was, especially because the show is so out-of-the-box to being with. The story is very coherent, easy to follow and I thought most, if not all of the jokes landed. Even the raunchy humor aspect had a lot of thought put into it.
AW: Right, right. One thing we really love about the show is that the audience comes in expecting a parody of Jurassic Park, you know, something kind of mindless. Hopefully, what they leave with is a real experience of what it means to be a community and an individual in a community. Hopefully you feel for these characters and you see these dinosaurs go on a journey…that was a lot of the conversation we had. It really creates its own world so well and it really knows itself. That makes our jobs really great. We are so over-the-moon that people are really liking it.

NRNW: Well, the show takes risks and I appreciate that on those grounds alone. What types of things did you do to prepare – you have some music numbers and you have some intense choreography for a relatively small stage…?
AW: To prepare for the show, I steamed my voice a lot *laughs*. For some shows, I might do some research or text work outside of the show. However, everything happened as an ensemble and we would do improvs with each other to warm up. We would come in and do movement exercises – I was kind of adverse to it at first because it felt like I was in school or acting class again - but it was really great that Marshall made us stick to them because it ended up being really great team building and we were doing a lot together in rehearsal. You know, putting sweatpants on and getting down and dirty with each other; that is where magic happens!

NRNW: I see…I love the costuming; I described it as sort-of 80’s reject. What are your thoughts exactly?
AW: *Laughs* That’s pretty funny; I never thought of it as that way. I guess that when I put the costume on, I feel like a…little lady dinosaur.

NRNW: *Laughs* alright then…what is your favorite moment from the show?
AW: I don’t knowww; I am still figuring that out. I do love my scene with Lindsay Chambers –

NRNW: I love her…
AW: Oh God, isn’t she the best? She is so freaking awesome, I am over the moon that I am in a show with her again; it is so much fun!

NRNW: You two didn’t interact that much in Lysistrata
AW: We never even LOOKED at each other on stage; we did not do a single thing together. We never met…but in this one, we get to really work together and now, we have this really great working relationship to add to that.

NRNW: And your scene is so funny when you are like, “What’s a peen-wis?”
AW: *Laughs* Yeah, that is a great scene, isn’t it? I mean, the writing, I don’t mean me.

As far as Lindsay, I think that girl is a genius. I think everyone in the show is though. It has been really wonderful and definitely one of my favorite experiences I have ever had. I would say I love the first chunk of the show – you know, my scene with Wade [McCollum] where my emotional journey is really beginning. That is really exciting to get into that part.

NRNW: And getting shocked by the electrical fence as your singing your opening number.
AW: Oh yeah, that’s fun too!

NRNW: What are your friends and parents reactions to the show, like when they see you getting dry-humped or any of the crazy shenanigans?
AW: Yeah, my grandmother came…it was a little raunchy for her, but she still really liked it. My family is pretty cool; they loved it – especially my sisters. My family lives in the city now, so they have been by a few times and are having a blast seeing the show. I was a little worried though like, “Oh my God; my sisters are seeing me get fu**ed by Claire Neumann; this is happening.”

NRNW: *Laughs* Alright, time for some fun questions… favorite musical?
AW: I love Carousel, Light in the Piazza, Into the Woods, Falsettos…you know, shows like that.

NRNW: Go-to Karaoke song?
AW: I have been known to do Clay Aiken’s “Through the Night”

NRNW: Oh really…?!?!
AW: *Laughs* I know; it’s embarrassing. I have also done Barbra Streisand’s “My Man” – I really do that justice, let me tell you *laughs*. Also, Michael Buble’s “Everything;” I like that one.

NRNW: Actor or Actress you would like to work with?
AW: Right now, I am completely obsessed with Jessica Chastain, but so is everybody. But I think the greatest theater star ever, that is alive right now, is Bernadette Peters and if I were to work with her one day,…that would just be too much, I couldn’t come to rehearsal; I would have to stay home.

NRNW: You can play her son!
AW: Maybe! Or maybe now her grandson…

NRNW: I see a bit of resemblance there.
AW: Oh yeah?! Thank you so much. I think that, one day, I can play Edie Falco’s son; I think that should happen.

NRNW: That might be your mother doppelganger.
AW: Yeah, maybe. Or Felicity Hoffman.

NRNW: What show, On or Off-Broadway, would you recommend other then Triassic Parq?
AW: One Man, Two Guvnors, I thought, was pretty awesome. I don’t know – everything I like closes; what does that say about me? *Laughs*

NRNW: Now that it is the summer, what is your favorite thing to do other then perform?
AW: Well, I haven’t really done anything; I am just starting to get my social life back *laughs*. I love going to the movies; I watch movies all the time. That is not really an outdoor thing though…I like being in the air-conditioning; I am an indoor person.

NRNW: Oh, what is your favorite movie?
AW: Kramer vs. Kramer; I think it is really simple and the acting is perfect. I love movies like that, ones that are really personal and intimate dramas.

NRNW: Thank you so much for this; this was phenomenal!
AW: Thanks and thanks for all the things you’ve said!

Photo Credit: Theatermania
Photo Credit: PataphysicalScience.BlogSpot.com
Photo Credit: Carol Rosseg for The New York Times
Video Credit: ALWY15 on YouTube

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