Friday, August 19, 2011

Spotlight On...Barry Shafrin

Name: Barry Shafrin

Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

Education: Harvard University – A.B. in Psychology, Minor in Dramatic Arts

Select Credits: RAINBOW FISH (Shark, national tour); HOLD MUSIC (Peter u/s, Living Theatre); STANLEY’S PARTY (Stanley, Manhattan Children’s Theater); FOREVER PLAID (Jinx, Lycian Theatre); THE WEDDING SINGER (George, Armory Theatre); ALTAR BOYZ (Mark, New Lebanon Theatre Barn)

Why theater?: I was a wee bit melodramatic as a child, so my parents shipped me to theater camp early on, and it just stuck. Good call, Mom and Dad. The thing I love most about the theater is the degree of collaboration. The directors and designers build on playwright’s vision, the actors add their individual voices and spirits, and each night the audience brings a unique energy. I think you become addicted to the intimacy and immediacy of live theater, both as an actor and an audience member, and I am constantly looking for my next fix.

Tell us about The Legend of Julie Taymor: The Legend of Julie Taymor has already won a Pulitzer, 3 Grammys, and a Kid’s Choice Award. Seriously. Don’t fact check me, but seriously...But actually seriously, it is a new rock musical inspired by the epic rise (and fall?) of Spiderman on Broadway. I think the show is enjoyable both for people who followed all the ups and downs of the Spiderman’s journey to Broadway, and those coming in with no clue. Expect larger-than-life characters, laugh-out-loud good times, a get-stuck-in-your-head score, and other exciting hyphenated superlatives.

What is it like to be a part of The Legend of Julie Taymor?: The process has been a total joy from day one. It has been a delight to sit in rehearsals every day and witness the brilliant antics of my stupidly talented castmates. Our director, Joe Barros, has also been an amazing mentor in encouraging us to be as big as we possibly can while staying rooted in the truth of the story. Plus thanks to Team J-Tay (that’s what I plan to call our kickball team), I can finally cross “have clothing ripped off by original Avenue Q cast member ” off my bucket list.

How does it feel to be poking fun at one of the most topical stories in theater?: They say it’s the sincerest form of flattery, no? And it’s all in good fun.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: A good vs. evil tale is nice, but it’s when the morality goes a bit askew that stories really draw me in. I find that grey area the most compelling. And I think our show manages to make you fall in love with the oversize arch-villain that is our Julie, despite (or perhaps inspired by) her dastardly doings. I’m also really drawn to new works, I think we are living in a really exciting time for musical theater. New composers, I want to jam with you! My friends will also tell you I am hugely inspired by Gavin Creel. He’s my favorite. Sometimes I send him emails…call me, Gavin…

What’s it like to be a part of FringeNYC?: Fringe is a whirlwind, but it is amazing to be in the company of so many incredibly talented artists who are all equally panicked about teching a show in four hours. I am hoping to catch as many shows this year as I can.

Any role you’re dying to play?: Fanny Brice. Watch your back, Ambrose. Elder Shafrin also looks pretty great in a white button-down.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: There were so many amazing new plays this season that I am sad I can no longer recommend: The Normal Heart (saw it twice, still dehydrated from the crying), Good People, and Unnatural Acts jump to mind. The Book of Mormon is truly spectacular, but it feels mean to recommend a show for which it’s virtually impossible to get tickets. Unless, you have preposterous luck and win the lottery on your first try, which I am astonished to say that I did.

What’s up next?: An EGOT.

For more information on Barry, visit