Friday, September 23, 2011

Spotlight On...Jed Resnick

Name: Jed Resnick

Hometown: New York City (Roosevelt Island)

Education: Brown University, BA in Theater and Classics

Select Credits: Avenue Q (Princeton/Rod u/s, Broadway); Rent (Mark, National Tour); Little Women (Laurie, Peterborough Players); The Morning After the Night Before (Todd, FringeNYC)

Why theater?: I've always loved the sense of community that surrounds theater. Some of my best friends today are the ones I did theater with when I was younger (Stagedoor Manor, Main Street Theater on Roosevelt Island, Applause NYC, Stages in the Hamptons). They have always been the most creative and interesting and adventurous people I've known. That's what drew me to the theater at a young age. Today, theater-folk remain among the most passionate and intelligent people you could surround yourself with. But beyond that, I've always loved the communal feeling that arises from going to the theater. Not just with the audience, but with the performers on stage. There is a shared joy in watching and performing that's like nothing else. Also, you can't really go to the stage door of a movie and meet the stars. Hooray for live performance!

Tell us about Les Enfants de Paris: It's a really moving new musical that draws its inspiration from Victor Hugo's "Hunchback of Notre Dame." The story follows the interweaving love stories of several young artists, activists and soldiers in Paris, 1958. I play Pierre Frollo, a composer and pianist who falls madly in love with an Algerian refugee, Esme (an updated version of Hugo's Gypsy Esmerelda). Unfortunately, a few other guys are in love with her too, so lots of crazy shit goes down. The score is gorgeous and lush -- some good old musical theater with Brel-esque and Arab influences. It's about love and the insane things we do just to try to get closer to another person, so it's a really sexy show. And we have a sexy cast to boot, which makes things exciting.

What is it like to be a part of Les Enfants de Paris?: It's exactly the kind of process I always hope to be a part of. We have a fantastic group of actors - professional, playful, committed. Our director, Donna Drake, has been working with the writers Stacey Weingarten and David Levinson, for a couple years now. They are extremely passionate about the piece, which is what you always want from anyone leading a project. They have put an enormous amount of work into creating a very clear world for the audience and the actors. Because there is such a strong framework in place, we have a lot more freedom to explore and live in the world of these characters. It's a play about relationships, very tangled and complex ones.  We are using our rehearsal period to really explore how this ensemble interacts with one another - the nuances and specifics allow for the most vivid relationships. It's also exciting to be a part of an important piece of theater that really speaks to our current social climate. Even though the action takes place fifty years ago in Paris, the story explores the very contemporary issues of Islamophobia and xenophobia, that arise when a young man, whose brother is a Catholic priest, falls in love with a Muslim refugee.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as artists?: I like theater that shows us not necessarily the world as it is, but as it might be. That's partly why I've always loved musicals. They are so heightened and extra-real. I don't go to the theater to see things I see every day. I want to see things that are extraordinary - people bursting into song and dance, scenes transforming before your eyes, time shifting between past and present. You hear the term "magical realism" a bunch, and that's always something that excites me, speaks to me. Some of my favorite play-makers in the past couple years have been Sarah Ruehl, David Greenspan, Steven Levenson, and Bruce Norris. I think one thing they all have in common is the way they heighten the everyday to something special, slightly magical, transformative.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: The roles I'm dying to play don't exist yet, they're the ones I get to help create. That's my priority right now, and why I'm loving being a part of Les Enfants. But in terms of roles in the current canon of musicals, I'd love to bite into Charley from Merrily We Roll Along, or one of those funny Mormons.

What’s your favorite show tune?: That would be "A Little Priest" from Sweeney Todd. My best friend and I sing it in the car on road trips sometimes. He always plays Mrs. Lovett, but one of these days I'm gonna make him switch with me.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Someone should write a musical where I play a teacher who falls for his co-teacher, Raul Esparza, gets his heart broken, and is consoled by his boss and best friend, Jennifer Ehle. She sets me up with her brother, Ryan Gosling. And we live happily ever after, in an apartment next door to Bernadette Peters. The end.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: A romantic comedy called "Now What?" starring Zach Braff in the Jed Resnick role.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Fiasco's Cymbeline. I saw it at the New Victory last year and it now has an open-run at Barrow Street Theater. It's magical and accessible and surprisingly touching. I'm also really looking forward to Clybourne Park's return to New York.

What’s up next?: I'm proud to be in Avenue Q at New World Stages. I think it remains the funniest and smartest musical in New York right now! I'll be sticking with it until someone writes one of the above-mentioned plays for me, or something else. Until then, you can follow me on twitter -