Monday, August 12, 2013

Spotlight On...Justin Bohon

Name: Justin Bohon

Hometown: Columbia, Missouri

Education: BFA-Cincinnati Conservatory

Select Credits: B’way-Will Parker in Oklahoma! (Fred Astaire and Theater World Awards, Outer Critic Circle and Drama Desk Nominations.) Book of Mormon, 9 to 5, Les Miserables, All Shook Up, The Producers, Miss Saigon.  Chip in On the Town at City Center Encores.  Bobby in the Boyfriend, directed by Julie Andrews.  Freddy in the Royal National Tour of My Fair Lady

Why theater?: My parents took me to community theater throughout my childhood.  It always seemed so blissful and magical, but I never considered the possibility of making it my career.  I participated in several shows in high school as well as working at a small Equity theater in Arrow Rock Missouri.  It was at that point that I started to learn about what New York had to offer and the reality that someone from a small town could indeed pursue a career in the industry.  I was accepted into the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and attended my Freshman year.  While in NYC, attending a call back for Miss Saigon I saw the original production of Ragtime.  In my opinion, it changed my life and impressed upon me how vastly and tremendously a theatrical piece can affect a person.  I have never looked back.  Well, maybe a few times, but not enough to stop loving it.

Tell us about Milk for Mrs. Stone: Milk for Mrs. Stone is a highly charged and emotional piece about a family striving to understand one another, it the midst of several curve balls life has thrown them.  While the themes of the play wouldn’t be considered overtly shocking to those of us living in New York City in 2013, they highlight the depth and controversy often experienced when family dynamics come into play.  I think the play teaches us that, regardless of what we know about one another or what we believe the motivations of another person are, we can never truly understand their perspective until we are willing to be selfless and put their needs before our own.  Often times in life our selfishness gets in the way of being the people we strive to be and these characters are no exception to that rule.  Milk for Mrs. Stone is heartfelt, funny and gut wrenching, while maintaining a relatable quality to anyone who has ever struggled with or attempted to comprehend family dynamics.  

What is it like to be a part of Milk for Mrs. Stone:
I have loved being a part of Milk for Mrs. Stone. The creative team and company are talented, professional and passionate human beings. I haven’t had the opportunity to be in a play in New York City before and I made it my goal, after leaving Book of Mormon, to seek one out. It can be challenging to be seen for a play when your resume screams “MUSICALS” and I was really thrilled when I had the opportunity to audition for the show.  Lucky for me, Charlie and Eli entrusted the role of Daniel to me and I have enjoyed every minute.  It has been an insanely collaborative process, and for that I am truly grateful.  At our first table read when one of them said to me, “What do you think?”, I turned to look behind me, before I realized they were talking to me.  What a gift to get to start something from the ground up, in an environment where your input can shape and change the life of a show, a character and a message you believe needs to shared.  In a nut shell, it’s been really F’ing cool!

What kind of theater speaks to you? Who or what inspires you as an artist?:
All types of theater speak to me. I think so much depends upon the mood you are in, where you are in life, how you feel the second you sit down in your seat, the temperature of the theater, the lady crunching her skittles next to you, etc.  I try very hard to view everything with an open mind and take what I can from the show.  Instead of saying to myself, “I loved that!” or “what were they thinking?”, I strive to ask myself if they accomplished what they set out to do and find the redeeming qualities in any given piece and performance.  What we do is not easy, and often times that is overlooked.  I’ve yet to meet an actor that can claim they’ve never been in a “stinker” before.  However, I’ve also never met an actor that doesn’t have at least one funny, touching or life-informing story from even the most ill-conceived production they have been a part of.  Basically, I try to find something I enjoy and respect about every piece of art/show I see. I admire and look up to actors that are committed to telling the story the best way possible, who never rest until they have it right and acknowledge that no matter how great it was that night they have to start all over again tomorrow. Actors that actually listen on stage and selflessly give to their colleagues while serving the piece; Actors that demand respect for their hard work, but don’t confuse demanding respect with being a pain in the ass;  Actors who respect the job they have been entrusted with, but care enough about what they do to voice their opinion in a productive way for the good of the play. These are all admirable qualities, and I strive to be this “fictional” performer myself.  Actually, I have had the opportunity to work with many such actors and I’m telling you, they are simply magnificent when they are doing the job they were meant to do.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I’m dying to play just about any role that involves a director, writer and company interested in finding the message and heart of the piece.  I hope to have the opportunity to sit in a room with talented people that realize they are fortunate to be doing what they are doing and desperately want to create something that will have a thought provoking effect on their given audience: comedic, dramatic and everything in between.  Nothing feels better than to be a part of something you believe in and to not only know that you have done good work, but that regardless of the run or outcome of the piece’s future, onlookers will acknowledge the necessity of what you worked so tirelessly to create.   

What’s your favorite showtune?:
My favorite showtune is a tricky one to answer.  I mean, there are many and they have all meant something to me at different times for different reasons.  I’m not even really sure if all the songs that are dearest to me would be considered “show tunes”.  I will say, that in my college years many of my peers went on and on about how dramatically changed they were when they saw Sunday in the Park with George and I never quite got it.  Perhaps I’m just a little slow on the learning curve or perhaps it was because I sat through endless, and I mean endless, duets of “Move On” in musical theater acting class.  Regardless, when I saw the Chocolate Factory’s production of Sunday in the Park with George in London and the chords to “Sunday” began, I started weeping in a way I never have before.  Audible, embarrassing, uncontrollable gasps.  Odd tears, of neither complete sadness or total joy, but a combination- an all-encompassing spectrum of emotion.  It made me proud to be an artist.  It made me understand the beauty of musical theater.  It is the single most emotion I have ever experienced hearing a song in my entire life.  I’ll never forget it and I think of it often. 

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I don’t know who I would pick if I had to choose one single person I’ve yet to work with.  Obviously, many famous and accomplished people pop into my mind, but I’m not certain it would be for the right reasons.  Coolness-factor, talent, fame, admiration, respect?  I guess they all factor in.  I know which actors and directors I respect and would feel incredibly fortunate to work with, but that list is far too long to mention here and it  seems unfair to just name one, right?... Meryl Streep. 

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: If someone were cast as me in a movie about me, I would hope it would be me playing it.  However, I don’t really wish that on another human being.  I will say that I have always admired Ed Norton, so I’d give him a call back.  I have great respect for his talent and I think he would take my notes on set.  LOL!  Please God, print the LOL!  I can only imagine the tweets if you don’t. 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Throughout my life I have recommended many shows to many different people.  So many people come to New York to visit and that is usually one of their first five questions.  It all depends upon what people are looking for.  Currently, I would say Kinky Boots, my husband just won a Tony for his orchestrations on it and I thought it was an amazing show!  Matilda, creatively and masterfully done.  Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.  A pretty unique and exciting theatrical experience!

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Guiltiest pleasures include, eating anything deep fried.  I’m from Missouri, it’s in my blood.  Also, and I know I will hate myself for admitting this in the morning, the "Golden Girls".  Specifically, the Murder Mystery Episode and Little Romance.  Mock away, but few television shows have yet to comprehend and deliver such comedic genius, writing and sense of self. 

What’s up next?: I’m not certain what is next for me.  In the past, when opportunities such as  Milk For Mrs. Stone have presented themselves, I have had to pass for financial reasons.  I feel very fortunate to have been a part of some long running shows that are allowing me to explore works based entirely on artistic element and creative challenge.  I hope to begin a new chapter and exploration into many different forms and types of acting.  Don’t get me wrong, I think creativity and artistic brilliance can be found everywhere.  I am just excited to endeavor into a world of performance I claimed to have always wanted to be a part of, but never had the guts to pursue. Milk for Mrs. Stone has provided me with such an opportunity and for that I am truly grateful.