Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Spotlight On...Joseph Reese Anderson

Name: Joseph Reese Anderson

Hometown: I was born in Chicago, but I'm calling Raleigh, NC my hometown now.

Education: I went to East Carolina University, where I double-majored in Acting and Musical Theatre. I had a minor in Exercise Science.

Favorite Credits:
I've got lots of performance credits that I love. Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus, Coalhouse in Ragtime, Miles Gloriosus in Funny Thing ..., but I have to admit that my favorite credit has to be as lyricist for Fatty Fatty No Friends. I've written lyrics before, but this is the first time I've written all the lyrics for a show. It's really a special and wonderful experience for me.

Why theater?:
I crashed a cast party once, and met some of the most passionate, optimistic, and kind people I'd ever known. They changed and, I believe, saved my life.  I dove into the theatre and never looked back.

Tell us about Fatty Fatty No Friends?: Fatty Fatty No Friends is sort of a dark fairy tale. The story follows Tommy, a meek, socially awkward, husky kid through a day at school.  The taunting is relentless, like it is every day.  As in all theatre, however, this is the day that something special happens. Something different. And it's absolutely delicious.

What inspired you to write Fatty Fatty No Friends?: It was Christian DeGre, actually, that suggested the idea.  He'd been teased that night, playfully, and I think he just heard music in it.  Christian and I have worked on many different projects, but the first we ever worked on together was about the awkwardness and social purgatory that is middle school.  This is when we were writing for The Nitestar Program, now just Star.  For the first couple years of our collaborations, these themes were always in the forefront of our imaginations.  So, years later, when the idea surfaced that we should write a musical about a day in the life of a tormented child, it was a natural choice.  It felt relevant, dark, funny, and meaningful all at the same time right off the bat.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: My first love is Shakespeare, but really love it all.  I've been blessed with an incredible lack of disbelief, and I get really into the stories. I'm inspired by people. People are interesting, meaningful, courageous, vulnerable, funny.  Everyone has a story to be told.  Sometimes they are epic, sometimes they are tragic, and sometimes they are as cute as can be, but all are worth exploring.  All are worth telling.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Stephen Sondheim. Honest,versatile, tremendously talented. I would learn everything I could from that man. I'd also love to work with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: In this year's Fringe Festival, besides Fatty Fatty No Friends, I'm really excited about a musical called Vestments of the Gods.  Phenomenal playwright (Owen Panatieri) and director (Joey Brenamen) that I've had the honor of working with before. I think it's going to be wonderful.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: My friends always tell me it would be Dwayne Johnson.  I don't think I could live up to that, but let's go with it. It would be a story about a kid that grew up in poverty and gang violence that found asylum in the elegantly phrased love and rage of Shakespeare. He tries to leave the life to pursue the arts, and it keeps following him wherever he goes. I'll call it "Twelfth Night on the Run". Hmm, I might give The Rock a call and see how he feels about it. Ha!

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: The Simpsons. I've seen every episode multiple times. It comes on a few times a day on various channels, and I DVR all of them.  I've been watching pretty much since the beginning. "Family Guy" too, but "The Simpsons" wins. Oh, and whiskey, too.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: I wish I could answer that, but Pandora has made me all but stop actually selecting music to play.  I listen mostly to Eminem, John Legend, and Amos Lee radio.

If you weren't working in theater, you would be _____?:
I once had a charity company that I loved. I had to let it go because I just had too much on my plate at the time.  But if I had my choice of alternative career, I'd definitely pick it back up again.

What’s up next?: I'm working on another musical, actually. It isn't titled yet, but it has to do with a man who is falsely imprisoned. That's been a bit of a pet project for me for a while, so who knows, maybe something else will happen before then.