Charlie Brady is playing the not-too-bright but energetic Sonny Malone in Signature Theatre’s production of Xanadu. I asked Charlie to talk about playing Sonny.
Joel: How did you get involved in Signature’s production of Xanadu, and why did you want to play Sonny?
Charlie: It was pretty last minute for me actually. Matt Gardiner emailed me a week before asking if I was interested and it all happened very quickly. I knew him from 5 years prior when I was involved in the workshop of Glory Days at Signature. I didn’t know a lot about it, but I knew roller skating was involved and it sounded like a lot of fun.
Tell us about Sonny who you play and how he is Charlie-like?
Sonny is not the sharpest tool in the shed, but with the help of Kira finds this impenetrable optimism. I find his ups and downs very similar to my own phases as an actor forging a career.
Are you a fan of the movie and the Broadway production? Did you see them and what were your impressions?
I had not seen the Broadway production, but I tried to watch the movie before I started rehearsals. I didn’t make it through the whole thing…… But I think the success of the stage version has a lot to do with its spoof-like nature. It’s just good fun.
The NYC production was performed on ‘roller skates.’ Is this production also done on roller skates?
It is. Can’t do this show without them.
Is there a roller skating consultant who is working with you?
Yes, we spent a lot of time with Gregory Vanderploeg who was a Starlight Express cast member for years in the Vegas company, and he got us in shape and helped a lot with staging on the skates and getting us confident on them.
On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate you roller skating skills?
Depends on the day! I’d say I’m about a 7 these days.
Did you roller skate as a kid?
I was a big rollerblader as a teenager but hadn’t put skates on since then. It came back surprisingly quickly though.
Have you played any characters on the stage who were similar to Sonny?
Actually I kind of do have a track record with playing the not-so-bright characters who take life not so seriously…..It’s a familiar personality ….
What did Director/Choreographer Matthew Gardiner tell you his vision was for this production, and what is the best advice he gave you on playing Sonny?
Matt’s brilliance for this production I think is his mission to retain a real character journey through the fluff and campiness of it all. It’s really important for shows like this to have characters that you can still invest in. I think he has done a great job in nailing down those moments where you see both of them have changes and real obstacles to deal with – no matter how silly they seem.
How would you describe Matthew and his Assistant Choreographer Brianne Camp’s choreography for Xanadu, and what’s been the most difficult ‘move’ or dance to learn?
I think they nailed the style of period – the 80’s mostly. I wouldn’t say any of it is super difficult – besides the skating. But integrating singing and acting and dancing is always a feat of its own.
Jeff Lynne & John Farrar’s score is filled with #1 hits. Which song that you sing is your favorite?
I love “Don’t Walk Away.” It’s not often that you can just rock out with a bunch of people backing you up in a killer lighting design and a great band.
Before Xanadu opened on Broadway, critics were predicting a short run because the movie was trashed by film critics everywhere. Why do you think the show had a healthy run on Broadway? Why do you think audiences will love coming to see it?
Well, it’s just a fun time. There is some really witty comedy with great, recognizable songs. I think it appeals to a lot of different demographics. Sometimes you don’t need to go through agonizing drama to have a great theater experience, and I think this show proves that.
You have a great cast working with you: Sherri L. Edelen (Calliope/Aphrodite), Nova Y. Payton (Melpomene/ Medusa), and Harry A. Winter (Danny Maguire/ Zeus), along with Mark Chandler, Jamie Eacker, Kellee Knighten Hough, and Nickolas Vaughan in the ensemble. Have you worked with any of them before?
I have no prior experience with them, but I sure hope to have the chance to work with everyone again. Such a great group and we have all had so much fun together.
What is it about their performances that has thrilled you or surprised you?
Everyone just came to the table with such an openness and fearlessness to play and throw everything they could think of on the table, and see what worked.
What is your favorite line that Douglas Carter Beane has written for the show?
“Bitch, I don’t know your life!” Best line ever. Can you print that??
I just did!
Julia L. Exline’s review of Xanadu.