Monday, February 3, 2014

Spotlight On...Sam Perwin

Name: Sam Perwin

Hometown: Miami Beach, FL

Education: B.A. in Literature from Harvard

Favorite Credits: A Little Night Music (Carl-Magnus) and Funny Girl (Nick Arnstein) - both at Mt. Gretna Playhouse, Pirates of Penzance (The Pirate King) at The Fiddlehead Theatre, Annie Get Your Gun (Frank Butler) at Park Playhouse. Can you tell I'm a legit baritone?

Why theater?: Theater is visceral. It's breath and blood and sweat and voice. It's human connection. It happens in real time and you can't fake it, or edit it into something else. Nothing makes me feel more alive - whether I'm on stage or in the audience.

Tell us about Gay Haiku: Gay Haiku is a romp through modern gay life in New York inspired by the hilarious poems of Joel Derfner. The seven vignettes look at the absurdities and truths of all stages of gay relationships, and examines the many forms of connections that gay men make today. It's funny, honest, poignant, sad, fabulous, and tragic - just like life. Also there are hot boys in it. And lip-synching scene-changes. Who could ask for anything more?

What inspired you to write Gay Haiku?: A former boss gave me Joel's book years ago, and I connected to it immediately. I was in my early 20's, single, clueless, and had only been in New York about a year. As I navigated the treacherous waters of gay dating in NYC, the poems seemed to describe - in the wittiest, most succinct way - everything I was going through. Many years later, I was on a long contract in Ohio (my Winter in Ohio gig, as I like to call it), and I had a lot of free time, so I decided to write scenes inspired by a few of the poems that seemed ripe for dramatization. I wrote a few and submitted them to The Strawberry One-Act festival and was accepted. All of the feedback I got was to expand the piece and maker it longer, so I wrote a few more and it became a full-length work. More than half of the vignettes have never been performed before, and I'm so excited to watch them come to life!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I've loved musical theater for as long as I can remember. I was that guy in high school who knew all the words to Into the Woods and had already done Shakespeare at theatre camp. In that realm, I've always connected to the works of Sondheim and William Finn. I'm also particularly partial to Loesser. My favorite playwrights are Terrance McNally, Noel Coward, and John Guare - all playwrights who combine humor with intelligence and heart. This particular play has been compared to Paul Rudnick's work - he was definitely an inspiration.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
Audra McDonald. Does that even need an explanation? I've also been really loving Diane Paulus's work recently - I would love to work with her in some capacity.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I loved Pippin (see above) and I've been recommending it to everyone. I also thought the recent revival of The Glass Menagerie was stunning and beautiful. I was totally overwhelmed by Fun Home (in the best way possible), and I'm really looking forward to seeing Twelfth Night before it closes - I love Shakespeare and Mark Rylance is supposed to be fantastic.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I'd play myself, thank you! But I have been told my whole life I bear more than a passing resemblance to a young Christopher Reeve, so if we could transport back to the early 80's, I'd pick him. It would definitely have the world "Tall" in the title somewhere - my height as been a defining characteristic my whole life.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: "Grey's Anatomy". The show doesn't even make sense anymore, but I can't stop watching it. It's been 9 years! I'm invested in these people.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: Lately, it's been The Scissor Sister's "Invisible Light." Not sure why, but that song is just speaking to me right now. Also, one of the transitions in the show features Petula Clark's "Downtown." That's making a comeback.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A professor or an academic of some kind. I'm such a nerd at heart - I love school and learning and teaching others. If I had all the time in the world, I'd go get a PhD in Comparative Literature just for the hell of it.

What’s up next?: Well, a lot of auditioning right now, so hopefully some good will come of that for the summer. Meanwhile, we're talking about next steps for Gay Haiku in a few others cities: L.A., Chicago, San Francisco, specifically. I also did a cabaret at the Laurie Beechman in December, and that might make a comeback in the spring. Stay tuned!