Still Another Q & A With Kevin Earley
October 16th, 2004
Kevin's always so generous with his time whenever I come to him with my video camera and a list of questions for him. It's been about a year since I had the chance to speak with Kevin about the changes in his career and the direction his life has taken since "Millie." The following is a VERY condensed version of our wonderful conversation that day.
S: It's been three years since I've been doing your website and I've been asking you questions and I wanted to know.. It seems like your view on your career has changed since I first started talking with you. Is that just my perception?
K: (smiles and nods) Uh huh. How do you think it's changed?
S: I see you as being more serious now - not that you weren't before...
K: I think that I've been given more opportunities to be. As an actor it's hard because sometimes you take the opportunities that come and sometimes you pass up the opportunities that you don't feel suit you at the time. As an actor, sometimes you get to choose that and sometimes you don't. I've been really lucky in some of my auditions, going in, that I just happened to be the right person, in the right place, at the right time. Like, I never thought I'd get this "Ten Commandments" gig because they were looking for pop singers. So I had no intention of actually getting it. I just went in, had fun... you get lucky when opportunities like this come along.
S: I guess the reason I ask is because when I saw you in March - I think it was Carousel - I asked you if you'd ever go back on tour or go back to New York.
K: Did I say no? (laughs)
K: Well, going back to NY is just a tough family decision between me and Julie. It's not that I don't want to go back to NY - I don't want to go on tour - tours are a great thing and a great money maker, but unless it's a new piece, you don't get that satisfaction. It's always a hard decision to leave your family and you want to make sure it's a good sound decision.
S: We've talked about this before about playing the bad guy and how you actually perfer it to playing the hero. But the thing to me about your bad guys - they're not really all that bad. Even Ramses...
K: Well, the nice thing about what they wrote with this show is that they did write a human side to him. With the ending of "Brothers Still" with his son dying, all that stuff - they gave him this incredible human aspect that would be silly to pass up and not use. You could probably take "Brothers Still" and try to make it into this angry moment, but I don't know exactly how that would work. Other roles that don't necessarily have that, I try to find it - I try to search it out because I like sympathetic bad guys. I think because of who I am, it's hard playing a bad guy and making him totally bad. I don't know if I could ever do that.
S: Okay, I have to ask you a Millie question. How did your portrayal of Trevor Graydon change from the time you went into the show to when you left?
K: It got funnier.
K: It just wasn't funny to begin with.
K: Nah, it's a hard comic timing piece. What's hard about a piece like that, because it's a little stylized and a little conformed in a box, is finding out how quickly you can tell the audience who you are, what your point of view is, and then you can veer from there... Because that's what comedy is.
S: Taking over a role from someone else, coming in as a replacement - is that a hard thing?
K: It's hard if there's an expectation to be that person. And there's two ways that can happen. One, if the director is putting pressure on you to do that and if you put that pressure on yourself. For me, they took that pressure off for "Millie" and for "Les Miz", for most shows, that I've gone into anyway, people have liked what I've done in the audition so therefore they've said, "We don't want you to repeat what the other guy is doing." But you also can't put that pressure on yourself. You can't say, "Oh my God, I have to be as funny as Marc Kudisch." I have to do what he did, cause he has that (adopts the Trevor Graydon voice and facial expression) nasally businessman kind of feel to him. That's great, that works for him, but I can't do it. I don't have the tambour of his voice, I don't have his swagger, I don't have his hair - I don't have all that stuff - so I wouldn't even attempt to do it like him, or Ben, or anyone else who did it.
S: Speaking of auditions, what do you use for audition songs, usually?
K: ."Out There" from Hunchback is a favorite. "Soliloquy"'s too hard to use - I've tried it a couple of times, but it's too long and there's usually not a good cut. I'm of the school - cut to the chase. I usually go with whatever they're asking for. Like for this they asked for pop-rock songs so I used Garth Brooks' alter ego Chris Gaines' album and I chose two songs off of that because they were very 80's, they were very pop, but they were also very storytelling. If it's a classic piece I'll go with "Carousel," "Brigadoon". From "Carousel" I use "Highest Judge" because it's really short, it's quick, it's high, it shows power, it shows anger, it also shows caring. It's hard because in 16 bars you have to show a lot. For this I went in for the initial call and sang my two songs. And in the callback it was "The Glory Of Ra" that we were singing and I sang it vey simply... (shrugs) I sang it simple and maniacal, I didn't get too crazy with it or out there with it and they liked that.
S: You've recently done a few biblical musicals - first the reading of "Ben Hur" and now "Ten Commandments". Did you grow up in a household with religion?
K: Not so much. With four boys and Mom & Dad both working - Mom in theatre, my Dad in computers, it was hard...
S: Wait, your Dad works in computers?
K: (smiles) Yeah. My brothers Tom and Dave and my Dad are computer programmers, Mark's an electrician, and...
S: ...You followed your Mom.
K: (nods) And I followed my Mom.
S: Actually, the first time that I'd ever seen your Dad at a show was at this one.
K: (smiles) Well, he's actually one of my biggest fans. He's very supportive, but he's not a big traveler, that's part of the trouble. I mean, he likes to travel, but it's not his favorite thing and sometimes it's hard to get him away from work.
S: It's interesting how you come from a very diverse family where half of you are very into the arts and half of you...
K: ...Are computer programmers? Yeah. And Dave's in the middle which is kind of funny because he's very artistic because he's got a band. He's had several bands back & forth, he's done a lot of open mics, things like that, and he plays the guitar and he has the whole set up at his place. But he's a computer programmer.
S: Last question - you know I always end with a stupid question...
K: (smiles) No question is stupid.
S: The Trevor Graydon suit...you didn't get to keep it, did you?
K: (smiles) I didn't... I did get to keep the shoes.
S: (laughs) The shoes? I guess you didn't really want the purple suit.
K: I didn't really want the purple suit. I didn't really know where I'd wear the purple suit, that was sort of the problem. (smiles)