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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Bryce Pinkham, Broadway Star Actor in "A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder" Our Coverage Sponsored by Paul Mayer Attitudes

Bryce Pinkham

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After first graduating from Boston College where all are schooled in ever to excel, Bryce Pinkham graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 2008 and made his professional debut thanks to director Alex Timbers in Christopher Durang's Beyond Therapy alongside Kate Burton, Darrel Hammond, Katie Finneran, Darren Goldstein and Matt McGrath at the Williamstown Theater Festival. Bryce made his Broadway debut again for Alex Timbers in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson in 2010. He returned to Broadway in 2012 as Carl Bruner in the musical adaptation of GHOST. Other notable performances in New York include a performance of the emcee from Cabaret alongside Anne Hathaway and Audra McDonald at Joe's Pub, as well as a performance among the award winning company of Horton Foote's The Orphans' Home Cycle at Signature Theater. 

Bryce will be returning to Broadway in the fall of 2013 opposite Tony Award Winning Jefferson Mays in the new original musical "A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder" at the Walker Kerr Theater. The website tells us: Monty Navarro has just received some really great news! He’s a long-lost member of a noble family and could become the next Earl of Highhurst. There are only eight minor issues, namely the other relatives who precede him in line for the title. So Monty does what any ambitious, highborn gentleman would do: he sets out to eliminate them one by one, all while juggling his mistress (she’s after more than just love), his fiancĂ©e (she’s his cousin, but who’s keeping track?), plus the constant threat of landing behind bars! But it will all be worth it if he can slay his way into Highhurst Castle… and be done in time for tea.

When he is not busy furthering his acting career Bryce volunteers his time as Executive Director and co-founder of Zara Aina, and international NGO build to help disenfranchised youth in Madagascar find a voice through theatrical performance. Bryce led the pilot program to Madagascar in May 2013 in which he and ten other American volunteers traveled to Madagascar and mentored 14 children age 9-14 through the creation of their own piece of theater based in Malagasy folktales. At the end of each performance these children were then given the opportunity to hand out school supplies to other communities in need. 

In 2012, sponsored by the Yale School Of Drama, Bryce was awarded the prestigious Annenberg Fellowship for an actor in the early stages of his career. As part of his proposal Bryce has chosen to enlist mentors Chris Bayes and Bill Irwin to improve training in physical comedy. He is looking forward to using the Fellowship to produce an evening of his own original physical comedy material sometime in 2014.   We are absolutely thrilled to present Bryce Pinkham as our latest Mover and Shaker, and are positive of his future success.  This is the next big household name to add to your vocabulary...
Peachy Deegan interviewed Bryce Pinkham for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: 
What is your first acting memory?
Bryce Pinkham: 
My first acting memory is playing Jem Finch in a local production of To Kill a Mockingbird in Moraga, CA. The best part of that summer was that my Dad was in the show with me, he played the bad guy, Bob Ewell. My Dad hadn't been onstage since he was in high school; we both fell in love with acting that summer. 

What were your early acting influences and have they evolved or are you still inspired by the same people and ideas?
My early influence was indeed my father, we went on to perform several more times together as I was growing up. It never felt like he was pressuring me to perform or trying to teach me the "right way" I was just always learning by his example. He's a natural performer and always took his duties as an actor very seriously. From him I learned valuable lessons of discipline, responsibility and humility.

Aside from the obvious talent, what is the difference between an actor who makes it and one who does not?
First of all, I think the concept of "making it" is false. I don't think any actor, no matter who they are ever feels like they have "made it." The entertainment business is so fickle and ever-changing that everyone, even A-list Hollywood Stars go through periods where they feel like they will never work again. I do think, however that there is a trick to working as a professional actor and that is learning to treat your career like a little business. While it is full of dream-come-trues and moments of artistic fulfillment, it's got to be full of moments that pay you enough money to live as well and choosing wisely in how you spend your time and your talents is key. 

What should everyone know about the Williamstown Theater Festival?
It's worth the trip to the Berkshires just for the hikes, but the theater is first-class. Every New York actor loves to work at Williamstown; it attracts the best from the city.

You've had a lot of success on Broadway-what would surprise most about the terrifically difficult road it is to succeed on the world's biggest acting stage?
Probably the lifestyle. Actors on Broadway (unless they are big movie-stars) make modest incomes and are never sure when their moment in the spotlight will end. Broadway shows can close the minute after they open, or sometimes won't even make it to Opening Night. Actors have to be very frugal and spend their time and money wisely to plan ahead for the inevitable down-turns. I think a select few have given people the impression that actors are self-involved and lazy. Not true, most working actors are working VERY HARD. 

We loved your performances in both Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Ghost. What were the greatest challenges and greatest joys in your role in each and also the production overall?
BBAJ was a challenge because nobody could believe we were on Broadway. People either LOVED the show or HATED it. That can be hard. I loved playing a demented crazy guy, and running around singing in skinny jeans...good times. With GHOST, the challenge was finding my place in the machine. The show had been done in London and was already running on all cylinders when I joined for Broadway, it was sort of like jumping onto a treadmill that was already running. I loved playing Carl every night because he's the character you're supposed to hate, and I made it my goal to make you secretly kind of like him. 

What should we know about A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder and what will your role in it be like?
This show is going to be so fun. I am onstage practically the entire time in this cooky English murder-farce. It's like if Downtown Abbey, Noises Off and Sweeny Todd had a love child. I play the protagonist Monty Navarro who is writing this "Gentleman's Guide" from his prison cell. He is on trial for murder. I tell the audience my rags-to-riches tale with the help of Tony-winning actor Jefferson Mays, who, by the way, is a modern acting marvel. He plays 9 different parts, and he is going to be astoundingly good. That's all I will say for now.

Why did you want to attend Boston College, best college in the world, and why do you love it?
I'm not sure. I'm not Catholic, and I grew up going to Public School in California. I guess it was the one place I visited that felt both a giant university and small liberal arts school all in one. When I took the tour, I wanted to go there. I remember walking across campus and always seeing a new face I had never seen before, but also seeing several faces I did know. I loved that balance.  
How do you try to make the world excel, as in Ever to Excel?
I try to help people whenever I can. Boston College really instills in its graduates the value and the importance of service. I perform social-impact theater for American Military troops with a company called Outside the Wire. I've been to Guantanamo Bay, Kuwait, Qatar, Japan and all over the US. I have also founded an NGO to use theater as a way to empower disenfranchised youth in Madagascar. You can learn more about us at Zaraaina.org 

If you were going to bet with Regis on the next Holy War, what would you bet and why?
I would bet Regis two tickets to "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" that his Fighting Irish get swooped up by a flock of Eagles this year. BC beat ND every year I was at school...I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Will you be joining him on his new sports show with commentary about the San Francisco Giants and if so how would you assess their season?
Well, it was a good year for my SF Giants hat...last year. I think the defending champs have suffered from two much reliance on their starting rotation. I mean, those guys are amazing, but they can't put runs on the board. Someone who is "good at hitting" has to help to do that. I love my Gigantes, but I just don't think 2013 is their year. Besides, Buster Posey wins Championships every OTHER year...gotta give someone else a chance right? 

How did Yale impact you and how excited are you that their hockey team had such a banner year (which you are more used to seeing by Boston College...)? 
The Yale School of Drama made me an artist. My time there taught me the discipline, responsibility and the correct amount of irreverance it takes to be an actor. I saw a few hockey games while I was there, I am very happy for their hockey team, what an amazing thing. Yes, we know Hockey Championships well on the Heights, but I was glad for the City of Elms to have something to celebrate this year. 

What was it like to work with Anne Hathaway and what actors that you've worked have you been most impressed with and why?
Anne Hathaway was a complete joy to work with. I was filling in for a friend of hers who could not perform with her, I came in at the last minute. She taught me every move of choreography and even rehearsed in an alley with me before the show. She was incredibly gracious, professional and on top of it. She deserves all the praise she got this year. On that same job I got to sing next to Audra McDonald and she really blew me away. Onstage she is a force of nature like none other I have seen, and offstage she couldn't be more down to earth and likable. Most of the extremely talented people that I have been lucky enough to meet or work with are really good people too. Audra and Anne are definitely two of the best.

After working with HBO on Casting By we see how crucial this role is to a production of any kind. What do you think makes a great Casting Director from an actor's perspective and what Casting Directors have been most influential in your career? 
A great casting director will go to bat for an actor nobody has ever heard of because they see promise in that person. A great casting director will also keep calling an actor in for roles, even if that person isn't booking anything because they see promise in that person. Casting Directors are an actor's best friend, because they have seen me do more things than anyone else really. My favorite casting directors know what I am capable of and can defend me to the people who have the ability to give me work. The most influential casting directors at this point in my career have been Pat McCorkle, (got me my first big part out of school, I went to the Guthrie to be in an Arthur Miller play called "A View From the Bridge") Tara Rubin who helped me get cast in GHOST and Jay Binder who has kept bringing me in for things over the years, and finally I booked "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" through his office.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
I am always inspired by other actors. I try to go to theater as much as possible to watch other actors to great things, it makes me want to work harder. I also look up to my parents, who are both excellent at what they do. 

What are you proudest of and why?
I am proud of what Zara Aina accomplished in Madagascar. We used theater as a tool to empower fourteen children from an extremely poor neighborhood. It was one of the hardest months of my life, leading American volunteer artists in a third world country with no idea of how everything was going to work out. It was such a success, we all had a big cry at the end, that's how you know you're proud.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I'd like to find more work in TV and Film. I am ready for some work that is not 8 shows a week. 

What honors and awards have you received in your profession? 
I am a Leonore Annenberg Fellow for 2012-2014. 

What one word best describes you and why?
I don't think one word can describe a person, so I will say "multi-faceted." 

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
On a roofdeck, any roofdeck

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
Any shop where there is a sale. 

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why?
I get to hire people? Awesome. I would hire Daniel Day Lewis so I could watch his acting wizardry up close. 

What is your favorite drink?
Honestly? Overall? Coconut Water. 
My choice of alcoholic beverage changes with the seasons. Right now, as summer begins to fade, I have been order tequila cocktails. Anything with a lime.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
I was at a cocktail party at the American Embassy in Madagascar. Zara Aina was being hosted there. We hadn't been told that they expected us to perform, they had a jazz band set up and everything. So I got up and sang an impromptu "On Broadway" with an all-Malagasy jazz band, it was pretty fun I have to say. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Robotaya in the East Village. I love watching the food get cooked right in front of you. 

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature?
I love the Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Can I be in the movie?

Who would you like to be for a day and why?
Daniel Day Lewis, for the same reason I mentioned above 

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? 
I don't know, the Bryce Pinkham Times Square Footbridge (a bridge only for theater people who are trying to get to their show without having to dodge the throngs of tourists)

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Watching my Bay Area teams play at the New York venues. Also, I went to Opening Night at the Barclay's Center, that was pretty dope. 

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 
Perform on Broadway. 

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why? 
I'd love to meet my great great Grandfather. He was a sea-captain who sailed around the Cape of Good Hope out of Maine. He had to have been a pretty impressive guy. 

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
I saw Radiohead perform on Governor's Island. Beautiful Show. Amazing Sunset. It was like a 3-D music video, but in real life. 

What would you like everyone to know about Zara Aina - how did it begin and where is its name derived from- and is there anything additionally you personally do to give back to the world?
I like to everyone to know that they can help us change lives across the planet. We are not trying to create 14 actors, we are trying to use theater as a tool of empowerment for 14 kids who without our help will be left. We have already taken the initial journey and seen the power this program has to affect change. We want to keep it going and need help doing so. It is all volunteer based, etc. They can donate right on our website, zaraaina.org
Is there anything additionally I do to give back to the world? Well, I guess I try to give back anywhere I can. I think being on Broadway is a privilege and anytime I can use that position to help someone, whether it's staying a little longer after the show to talk to audience members, or taking a young theater lover out on the stage to feel what it would be like to be on one of those stages, I try to do that stuff. 

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in Manhattan?
Maybe it's not the most underrated thing in Manhattan, but the most under-appreciated thing is the water. We have the best tap water of any city I have every been to! 
The most overrated thing in Manhattan is Times Square. What a madhouse. 

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
My favorite Whom You Know column has to be "Blissfuly Bed and Breakfasts." I love to get out of the city for a few days and relax. My girlfriend and I have a few spots that we return to because we have gotten to know the owners and their family, but there are other places I would like to visit after seeing the pictures and reading the reviews! Reading that column makes me want to travel more! 

Have you tried The Peachy Deegan yet and if not, why not?
I haven't. I will have to do so. 

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I am building a website that will be ready soon. BrycePinkham.com (surprise surprise)

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
find me on twitter @PinkhamBryce or email me at bryce@zaraaina.org

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