Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spotlight On...Blake Zolfo

Name: Blake Zolfo

Hometown: Crown Point, IN

Education: Crown Point High School; Boston Conservatory of Music - BFA Musical Theatre (class of '15)

Select Credits: Kid Victory (Off-Broadway, Vineyard Theatre, Chita Rivera Nomination - Outstanding Male Dancer in an Off-Broadway Show);  The Lightning Thief  (International Tour, TheatreWorks USA); Sexyback, or What You Will (American Repertory Theatre New Works Series); Little Murders (Boston Conservatory of Music, WISE Emerging Artist of the Year Award)

Why theater?: I used to say that it was because "theatre allows me to feel the feelings I'm not allowed to in real life". But I think a less dramatic reason would be that I have seen how theatre can be used to create social change, and that kind of power is really alluring to me. I love shows that really make you think - Sweat, Kid Victory, really ANYTHING John Kander has written..

Tell us about 25!: A Premature Retrospective: In the days, weeks, and months leading up to my 25th Birthday, I felt like I had this looming deadline coming up. I felt like "Now my age rounds up to 30!; shouldn't I be something by now?!?!" I felt like many of my contemporaries were already falling in love and getting married. Already booking Broadway Contracts. Already "Something". So I wanted to create a show that captured my journey to discovering what it DOES mean to be 25. What DO I need to have accomplished already. What is OKAY for me NOT to have accomplished? Steve Schalchlin (my musical director) wrote five songs that we're debuting at the concert that were written directly from conversations we've had about growing up. We're also covering songs that deal with age and falling in love and hopeful youthfulness. I'm also reprising the song that I originated in Kid Victory!! It's a fun, heartfelt, hopeful set that I have seen people really respond to. My director, Andy Gale, and Steve really helped to shape this show and I can't say enough how much thanks is necessary to demonstrate how much of the show is truly theirs.

What inspired you to create 25!: A Premature Retrospective?: See above.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love theatre that makes me forget I'm watching actors. When that rare combination of material, actors, and music comes together to create something truly bigger than the sum of its parts. That may sound stereotypical, but I've only experienced it a handful of times in my life. That's what makes it so precious when it DOES happen. The Steppenwolf Revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was one of these shows. The quickest three hours I've ever spent in a theatre. People like Tracey Letts or any of the excellent-dancers-turned-excellent-choreographers (Fosse, Blankenbuehler) really inspire me because they prove you can have interests and talents in more than one area of theatre. I feel that too often, we get told as actors that we need to do ONE THING really really well. And any attempt to pursue other things is seen as a distraction or diffusion of your time and talent, instead of seeing it as an opportunity to make yourself a more fully formed, three-dimensional human being and artist.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Younger Brother in Ragtime. I just found out I can sing "Maria" so Tony is absolutely a role I would love to play soon. Eventually, George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or Bruce Bechtel in Fun Home. After the experience with Kid Victory, I really want to work on as many new shows as I can be a part of. I love the process of editing a character/character arc/story arc because it helps to inform the character. You get to ask yourself fun questions like, "Is the part we just cut still true for this character? Why or why not?" What a fun puzzle to put together.

What’s your favorite showtune?: It changes almost DAILY but right now I'm strutting down the street to "Poor Thing" from Sweeney Todd. What an excellent cast album. What an excellent performance Angela Lansbury gave.

What’s your favorite song to sing in the shower?: Oh GOD! If I'm being 100% honest, it's "What Baking Can Do" from Waitress. What an excellent "I Want" song. Also, if I start crying in the shower, the showerhead doesn't judge me.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I've always wanted to work with Kyle Dean Massey (he's someone whose work I have always aspired to and admired). I would love to work with more great dancer/actor/singers like Karen Ziemba and Joel Blum and Jeffry Denman. I learned so much from these three over the course of Kid Victory.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:  I'd love to have Kyle Dean play me (so people think I'm sexier than I actually am!). And I suppose the title would be something like, "Learning to HufflePuff". (I was officially sorted into HufflePuff by my sophomore year of college and I remember being SO ANGRY at this sorting. I saw HufflePuffs as dumb, flighty, spacey, air-headed characters from the Harry Potter Books. But recently I've really come around to not only learning to love it, but I actually wore a HufflePuff-themed outfit to the Kid Victory Opening Night Party.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Significant Other was a really strong show this season that really spoke to my experience as a Millennial. Gideon Glick gave an incredibly moving performance and it will stick with me for a long time. OH I WANNA WORK WITH GIDEON GLICK SOON. Like, maybe play his younger brother. Or lover. Those two options are not suggestions for the same show.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: When I need a boost in morale or energy, I listen to Meghan Trainor's newest album, "Thank You". Great beats, straightforward messages. Just a really high energy album.

What’s up next?: Steve Schalchlin and I plan on writing a musical about the life of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a civil right activist from the 1960s who stepped in front of a bullet to save a young black girl's life and was later put in jail for it. The story seems to lend itself quite easily to a musicalization and I think the story is as relevant as it ever will be. This will give me an opportunity to try my hand in following Tracey Letts' footsteps.

For more on 25! A Premature Retrospective, visit