Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spotlight On...Michael Judson Berry

Name: Michael Judson Berry

Hometown: Syracuse, NY

Education: Boston University

Select Credits: Go West- the new Village People musical (Tulsa); Spamalot (Patsy, National Tour)

Why theater?: Why theater? Well, I did my first show when I was six. I did King and I, I was the little kid who got to look up her dress and I got a huge laugh every night, it was just the greatest feeling in the world. When I finished that show, I was super sad so I told my mom “I want to do that again!” So I did Oliver and I kept doing theater. It was the one consistent in my life, I guess. I did a lot of different sports but I always did theater. When it came to look at colleges, obviously there was no question, this is what I was doing. I don’t know, I’ve always been in love with it. I love story telling. I love that aspect to it. Being able to touch people in different ways. I love doing comedy and being able to make people laugh for two hours. Giving them that escape is just beautiful.

Tell us about Spamalot: As our King Arthur says, “A satirical spin on the classic Arthurian tale.” It’s a takeoff of the classic of the Monty Python film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, which is their hilarious turn on the King Arthur story and his god-given quest to find the Holy Grail. And obviously in the musical version, they take all of the best parts of the movie and then apply it to making fun of Broadway, but of course they toss in a little bit of romance here and there, and it ends with a wedding like any great, funny musical should.

What is it like being a part of Spamalot and being on tour?: It’s an experience. It’s my first tour. It’s wonderful because it’s such a great ensemble show. Even everyone in the ensemble have their own little moment to shine. And the principles are all fairly even. We all feel important. It’s a really nice harmony. And the cast gets along really well which I think is a rare and really nice thing that we’ve all become really good friends. Our tour schedules really insane. I think we’re in nine different cities in eleven days. We spend a lot of time together. But the fun side of it is we get to see the country. We’re taking the show that is so funny to parts of the country, and with what’s going on right now is fun because I feel like our country is in such a bad place economically and Washington is such a mess, so people are looking for some kind of escape. Especially when we get to some of the smaller cities that have been hit hard with everything that’s been going on, it’s sold out. It’s packed. They may not have much money, but they’ll spend it on something like this. It’s a really nice gift for us that they’ll see us and it’s nice to know that we’re giving them that little treat. That’s the kinda cool part for me.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as artists?: Theater that is accessible to me, that has something in it that touches me personally. I feel like I’m inspired by so many people. I’m fascinated by actors who can really transform themselves. Like Mark Rylance, who you see in Boeing-Boeing, which is a farce where he’s this quiet Midwestern guy, to Jerusalem where he’s like this disgusting man in the woods to his King Richard II. Someone who can do comedy and drama equally as well. Or someone like Jan Maxwell, who can transfer between Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Follies to Lend Me a Tenor, who can put themselves in any situation and still be incredible.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Ahhh! There are so many. Patsy was one of them, so this worked out really well. This was one of my dream roles so it’s really exciting that my first big job is in one of these roles that I’ve wanted to play since the show came out. I’ve always wanted to play Guido in Nine, we’ll see if that ever happens. I’ll have to wait another 20 years before that one will come true.

What’s your favorite showtune?: I love “My Romance.” I think it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. It’s so simple.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Christine Ebersole. I’ve seen her in two shows, I think she’s incredible, and she’s a family friend. That would just be really cool to be like, “ah, I know you and I think you’re brilliant.”

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
These are good questions Michael Block! Who would play me in a movie? Probably Darren Criss because he looks like me and he also has thick eyebrows, but he’s more famous. So he would get the role of playing me over me. It would probably be called “My Features Are Too Big.”

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Anything Goes is so much fun. War Horse, even though I haven’t seen it or get a ticket.

What’s up next?: Right now, they’re talking about extending the tour for an extra two months, which is very exciting. And then, I’m torn between moving back to Los Angeles and pursing television and film or coming back to New York having this nice credit. Trying to figure out where I want to live is what’s up next.

Catch Michael on tour in Spamalot by visiting