Michael James Scott knows what it is to build a new show for Broadway. After being in the original companies of All Shook Up, The Pirate Queen, the revival of Hair, Elf, The Book of Mormon and Aladdin, this season he took on the role of the Minstrel in the new Broadway hit, Something Rotten.
You’ve been on a roll recently with a string of hit shows. What does it feel like to be a part of a show you know is a hit with audiences?
Being a part of a show from the beginning is such a unique opportunity and a blessing as an actor. The marriage of the creative team collaborating with artists and creatives is such a unique experience. It’s been such a crazy past few years because each show has been a project that, when we started, I knew was special. Something about the project was really different and isolated from anything I’ve ever done. In the shows I’ve done that have been successful, the relationship between the creative team, the producers, and the performers has been supportive and collaborative.
One of those shows was The Book of Mormon. What was different about that experience of building the show?
I kinda missed the boat on doing ethnic shows, I was the token non-threatening black man, which was lovely and I’ll take it, but it wasn’t until The Book of Mormon where there is an entire half of the show that’s all color. To be able to be in the room with that as we created that, it blew my mind. I’d been around but it was like a rebirth for me. Even with someone who has been doing it for a while, to see that is the most amazing thing.
You’re the first person the audience sees in Something Rotten. What did that feel like?
The song I sing, “Welcome to the Renaissance,” was the first song the writers wrote almost ten years ago. It was the only piece of the show they had. Knowing that, when we did the round table readings, it became a sort of joke that it was a lot to have on my shoulders. As we moved on with the process, the Minstrel part of that song got bigger, so when it was given to me, it was pretty intimidating. It’s a cast full of all stars and being in the room with those people is thrilling. I will never forget the first moment I walked out with that song because there had been so many versions of that song, and until they decided lyrically on it, it changed. I’m usually not pretty nervous before I do a show, but for this I was anxious. But I walked out smiling, got the lyrics right and it was a really awesome moment.
What are you working on when you aren’t on stage in Something Rotten?
It’s about my solo stuff and concert work finally. I shied away from it for a long time. I really want to sing songs that people would not expect people to sing – a song from Carousel or Oklahoma but doing it my way. A way that people of all colors can connect. I love that sort of shake up and being the thing you don’t expect. I love Something Rotten and being able to do that and focus on my own music is a blessing.
Don’t miss Michael in Something Rotten right now!
Photography by Michael Young
Photo Assistance by Anthony Lee Medina