Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spotight On...Courter Simmons

Name: Courter Simmons

Hometown: Milpitas, CA (It sounds like “Mule Penis”, but it means “Little Cornfields” in some native South American language… at least that’s what they told us in school)

Education: BA in Theatre and Dance from Santa Clara University, a small Jesuit School in CA

Select Credits: Broadway: Jersey Boys (Bob Crewe) National Tours: Jersey Boys (Joe Pesci, Frankie Valli understudy) Beauty and the Beast (Le Fou), High School Musical. Film: "Lucky N#mbr". TV: 2009 Tony Awards as Frankie Valli

Why theater?: I love the immediate connection with the audience. When you act on camera, you’re only interacting with the other person in a scene (if they’re even actually there, usually they’re in their trailer.) In live theatre, you’re interacting with the people on stage AND the audience itself. Even in a very intimate piece, you can hear the audience react, even breathe in the quiet moments.

Who do you play in Coming?: I’m the “He-Demon,” which means I play lots of different characters in Josh (the son of God) and Damian (the AntiChrist)’s story. I play Damian’s boyfriend, then the voice of God, then the angel Israfel who’s sent from Heaven to assist Josh with the Apocalypse. It’s fun!

Tell us about Coming: It’s a fantastic glam-rock love-triangle story about the second Coming of Jesus and the Anti-Christ, set today in our media and reality show-crazed time. The music is fabulous and the choreography is amazing. The whole team led by Rachel Klein is top-notch, and there’s lots of gloriously raunchy stuff thrown in the mix.

What is it like being a part of Coming?: Like any show in the Fringe at times it feels like it’s being thrown together with duct-tape and safety pins. Then you watch a moment in rehearsal and you’re like “Holy Shit, this is a great show! Why are we only doing 5 performances?"

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: The more honest a show is, the more it speaks to me. It can be big and presentational or intimate, but if the truth behind a story comes through it can be life-changing. I’m inspired by anyone or anything that makes me think or better yet challenges my preconceptions in a real way.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: People will say it’s a stretch, but I’d kill to play Prior in Angels in America. I’d also give my left nut to be anything or anyone in Avenue Q. I love that show so much!

What’s your favorite show tune?:
You’re going to ask a gay man that question and only want one answer? It changes all the time, but I always go back to “On the Steps of the Palace” from Into the Woods. Not traditional I know. But I love the lyrics and Cinderella’s journey through the song.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
It’s a 3-way tie between Harvey Fierstein, Dennis O’Hare, and Paul Rudnick. There’s a theme there, I know, but they each bring something so fantastic to the table, just to be in a room and watch any of them work would be an honor.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
Elijah Wood in “Inexplicably Moist - The Courter Simmons Story” on Lifetime.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
I mean, Book of Mormon is still the best show of the Millennium, the reviewers weren’t wrong.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?:
"Is it Like this for Her Here Always" from The Minister’s Wife (the show based on Shaw’s Candida)

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Totino’s Pepperoni Pizza. The horrible frozen kind. I only allow myself to have it when on vacation somewhere far away, because it’s a damn shame to eat that crap when there’s so much great pizza all over New York.

What’s up next?: I’ve got a couple of ideas floating around for a show of my own creation with friends. Whatever it is will be zany and fun and have me singing songs originally written for high-belting women.