5 Questions with Tony nominee Bryce Pinkham about Broadway, Birdland & Bing
Bryce Pinkham made his Broadway debut in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson before taking the stage in Broadway shows which included Ghost, The Heidi Chronicles and his Tony nominated role in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. He’s currently starring in Holiday Inn and is bringing his first solo show to the Broadway at Birdland concert series. I caught up with Bryce to talk his newest Broadway role and the adventure of stepping out onto the Birdland stage.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder was a surprise hit and then it knocked everyone’s socks off at the Tonys. Did you see that coming?
It was the little show that could and it felt that way. I always knew the material was some of the best I’d seen in a while, but that doesn’t always translate to commercial success. You never know going into rehearsal what lies in wait. The credit goes to our producers and the marketing team who got us an audience to sustain our run. For a new musical with no movie stars in it to stay around from the fall to the Tonys was the real miracle. I didn’t know we were going to be around for that long until the night of the Tonys.
Now, you’re breathing new life into Holiday Inn. What is this show bringing to audiences every night?
Irving Berlin wrote this music in 1942 I believe and the movie was created as a means of escape. It was created to be a joy machine for a world that was somewhat joyless at the time. I think that’s the spirit we’re trying to bring to Studio 54, to generate some joy on stage to escape the madness around us these days. I don’t think we are revealing a greater truth about the human condition, but we are getting people to smile and laugh and take a holiday from their lives for a few hours. The music is so infectious and classic; it really feels like a trip down memory lane for some and a history lesson for others.
Your Broadway credits are incredibly diverse. How has this role challenged you as an actor?
He’s so sincere and I’ve played a number of characters who had had a level of complexity to them. They’ve been complicated and mysterious but Jim is pretty straight forward. He knows what he wants and he’s sincere about how he wants to go about getting it. He wants to leave show business and lead a simple life. I will say that singing this music is intimidating. Bing Crosby sang this originally, his “White Christmas” is iconic. Every night, I have to remind myself that I don’t have to match Bing but that I can put my own voice on it.
You’re bringing your very first solo concert, “Between the Moon and Me,” to Birdland. Being your first solo show, what has been the most surprising aspect of the process of putting it together?
Since I’ve never done it before, the most surprising parts will make themselves known to me on the night. I feel woefully unprepared, but I imagine I would feel that way if I’d been preparing for a year for this. It’s a unique challenge to entertain a room of people with only you and a piano. Part of the reason I wanted to do this was to sing music I normally don’t get a chance to sing. I want to explore parts of my voice I don’t get to use on Broadway. It’s called “Between the Moon and Me” because I have a feeling the moon may be the only person who has heard me sing some of these songs. I’m generating something that is all mine and I like the opportunity to take ownership of this show.
Beyond this show, how do you challenge yourself as an artist?
I always try to do what I call “following the butterflies.” I want to take on the projects that give me butterflies because I think it means I’m excited and scared, to borrow a phrase from Little Red Riding Hood. I think that’s how we grow and learn, so I try to find those projects that force me to do something I’ve never done.
“Between The Moon And Me” premieres at Birdland on Monday, October 17 at 7pm.
Head over to www.BirdlandJazz.com for tickets!
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