Saturday, July 30, 2016

Spotlight On...Jesse Manocherian

Name: Jesse Manocherian

Hometown: Mamaroneck, NY

Education: Northwestern University’s Theatre Department and Music Theatre Program

Select Credits: Leo Frank in Parade in Chicago, New York, and Pittsburgh. Other favorite credits include: The Hidden Sky, Seussical, The Baker’s Wife, Opa!, Falsettos, The Wild Party. Readings, workshops, and concerts with Yale Rep, The Director’s Co., the New York Theatre Barn, the Cell Theatre, and the ADL, among others.

Why theater?: I believe in presence above all else. I think when we show up and share a space openly and honestly, we really get to exercise and exorcise the way things are.

Who do you play in Insomnia?: Brad, a gay writer in his 30s who can’t sleep and is trying to FINALLY write something meaningful.

Tell us about Insomnia: I think Insomnia is wonderful because it fits into the cannon of musical theater — it’s born of traditions explored in Company, Sunday in the Park, A New Brain, even Fun Home — but continues to evolve them. It’s both very of the moment and timeless — and I think the music is the best example of that: it has these soaring melodies that are at once completely new and interesting, but somehow very familiar.

What is it like being a part of Insomnia?: This has been one of those great blessing: Brad is the kind of role that doesn’t come along often, and I have been so very fortunate to have the opportunity to push myself — musically, dramatically, personally — in a room of incredibly supportive and talented people. It’s not every show that asks so much of you but give you so much back.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like theater that demands our presence in the space. My theater heroes for as long as I can remember are George C. Wolfe and Joe Mantello. Ivo van Hove’s work has also been a bright spot lately, but the cabarets of Sherie Rene Scott, Lady Rizo, and Taylor Mac are the people who jump to my mind as the voices I most relate to: artists who unapologetically share their authentic voices and, in doing so, encourage us all to do the same.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: That list goes on and on. I could make the same list I did earlier (Bobby in Company, George in Sunday, Gordo in A New Brain) with the addition of Louis in Angels in America, but I am sure I am leaving tons off that list, and I also love working on new roles. Also, there is nothing like the gift of a role you thought was one thing and reveals itself to you.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Depends when you ask me, but right now I just got to a place where "Being Alive" is the first thing that jumps out of my mouth when I get to sing.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: HOW DO YOU PICK OUT FLAMES IN A FIRE!!! This is the real list I couldn’t make—how can we know who we want to work with until we work with them? Based on their work, any of the theater heroes I mentioned previously—oh and Michael John LaChiusa.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Again with the impossible lists! Off the top of my head: Carol Channing in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Barbara Harris in On a Clear Day, the original cast of Follies, the original cast of A Chorus Line...I wasn’t going to say Company again, but it is definitely on the list.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Shuffle Along was hands down my show of the season.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I like food and lots of it, but that’s not guilty…so maybe musical theater.

What’s up next?: I’m working on a cabaret, but really I hope I get to do more Insomnia and soon, I am loving wrestling with this one.