Thursday, July 2, 2015

Spotlight On...Neal Mayer

Name: Neal Mayer

Hometown: Toms River, NJ

Education: B.A. Communications - Susquehanna University.  In New York, I’ve studied acting at the Atlantic and with Wynn Handman and Betty Buckley.

Select Credits: Recently, I was seen as St. Aphrodisius in The Hunchback of Notre Dame at La Jolla Playhouse and Paper Mill Playhouse. I’ve appeared on Broadway in Les Misérables, on tour in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and off-Broadway in Forbidden Broadway and Bush is Bad.  I’ve also been featured in comedy sketches on "The Tonight Show" and "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon".

Why theater?: There is nothing like the excitement of a live audience.  It really is the essential “other character” in any play. When it all comes together, there is a charge from the audience that is palpable.

Who do you play in Spot on the Wall?: I play Mike Hunter, a wealthy museum patron who is still reeling from the death of his wife.

Tell us about Spot on the Wall: The show centers on a young photographer (played by the wonderful Robert Hager) who is about to open an exhibition of photos chronicling the death of his mom to cancer.  On the day of the opening, the ghosts of the past haunt the living as they try to come to terms with the choices they’ve made in their lives. It has a truly original contemporary score that will be played solely on guitar, bass and violin.

What is it like being a part of Spot on the Wall?: I love working with the creative team. They’re young, dynamic and really excited to present this piece to the world.  Composer Alex Mitchell and Book Writer/Lyricist Kevin Jaeger are so open to actor questions and input, and they are constantly re-writing. You’ll be hearing a lot from them in the future.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love plays and musicals that surprise me and transport me. This season, Disgraced and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time both did that in completely different ways. You would never have that same experience in another medium.   A few seasons back, One Man, Two Guvnors knocked me out with a first-rate script and hilarious performances. I’m also inspired by Jeanine Tesori’s work and am so excited to be seeing Fun Home next week.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I love being part of new works so I look forward to something that isn’t even out there yet.  Of the current Broadway musicals, I’d love to play Jefferson Mays’ roles in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.

What’s your favorite showtune?: "If I Loved You” from Carousel is the perfect theatre song and makes me tear up every time I hear it.  (But I also love “All That Jazz,” “For Good,” “Unlikely Lovers,” “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” “Suddenly, Seymour”…)

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Director Marianne Elliott. War Horse and Curious Incident were two of my favorite theatre experiences of the last decade.  Her storytelling and use of theatre craft are pure genius.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Ewww. I’d never want to see a movie about me!  I’d spare the world!

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I’d love to have been in the audience for the opening nights of the original Show Boat and Oklahoma! to see how groundbreaking they really were.  And I’m a huge Gypsy fan, so I’d like to catch that original cast as well.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Eating cereal. All kinds of cereal. There are at least five different boxes of cereal in our pantry at any time. Apple Jacks, Heritage Flakes, Cheerios, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries… Don’t judge me!

What’s up next?:  I’m thrilled that we’re going into the studio in August to record Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s gorgeous score from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. That was one of my favorite theatre experiences to date, and I’m so happy that the music and the performances of the Paper Mill cast will be preserved.  I’ll also be working on an exciting new musical by Josh Rosenblum called Mark Felt, Superstar. I play Mark Felt, the FBI man who was Deep Throat, Bob Woodward’s secret source during the Watergate investigation. We did four workshop performances in April, and it looks like we’ll be doing a limited run later this year.  In keeping with the Deep Throat theme, I can’t reveal where until the time is right…”

For more on Spot On the Wall, visit spotonthewall.com and nymf.org.

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