2006 Tony Awards Q&A: Bob Martin

Bob Martin is doubly-nominated for The Drowsy Chaperone (his Broadway debut), both as best leading actor in a musical and for co-writing the book. His Canadian credits include The Drowsy Chaperone (Fringe of Toronto, Theatre Passe Muraille, Winter Garden), An Awkward Evening With Martin and Johnson, The Good Life, Alumni Café, Skippy's Rangers (National Tour), Second City Toronto (Artistic Direct 2003-2004): Invasion Free Since 1812 (Dir.), Sordido Deluxo (Dir.), Old, Wine New Bottles, What Fresh Mel Is This?, Last Tango On Lombard, Tragically Ohip, Second City National Touring Company (Two National Tours). He's received four Gemini Nominations, one LA Drama

Critics Circle
Award, five Canadian Comedy Awards, 2004 WGC Screenwriting Award for Slings & Arrows.

How did you hear your Tony Nomination news?

I went on the web to the Tony Awards web site, and the first person that I told was my wife who was sitting beside me. After that, I did an interview with the CBC immediately (Canadian Broadcasting Company), and they got my mother on the line which was very interesting so the first ones I spoke to was my mother and the nation of Canada.

Looking back at the show's journey, how do you reflect on it?

The show started very, very small and has ended up as big as it can be and along the way we've worked with dozens of talented performers and adapted the shows to the strengths. Once we came here with Kevin (McCollum) and with Casey (Nicholaw), the show really blossomed into what we always hoped it would be.

How much of the show was adapted for specific performers once they came on board?

The actors had exercises and in rehearsals things came out, character wise, that then went into the scripts. Beth Leavel is a perfect example, because she's such a great character actor. As soon as she dove in to the booziness of the character, we had more going into the script. It's such a fantastic resource to be able to draw on such a talented cast.

The show is often described as a 'love letter to musicals,' aside from the Tony nomination – how has the theatrical community been reacting?

The community has embraced it I think because we express something that the audience thinks, and that's the desire to be transported by what they see.

Was it always the goal to appeal to the audience that way?

The show in its earliest origins was written without an audience in mind, it was done for a community of actors. As it evolved, we realized that the things that amused us also appealed to a general population.

Were you expecting, or hoping for the reception here in New York to be as strong as it's been?

Our first American performance was at NAMT, and the NY audience reacted so well to the show. From that moment, I knew that it would work and that the comic voice of the show would work.

Speaking of New York, what was your first Broadway experience as an audience member?

Wow, Cats was the first Broadway show that I saw…

And?

Well, that I wasn't thrilled with. I think that "Hat Full of Rain" in Toronto made an impression on me, because the actors were so committed to the performances. I was so drawn in that I forgot I was in an audience. I had that transportation moment, and that's happened to me in both big shows and more obscure regional performances.

For The Drowsy Chaperone, you're nominated both as an actor, and as a writer. What has the transition been like for you from back stage to on stage?

It's a very strange thing for me because I was working more as a writer than as an actor lately. Plus, most of it has been writing for TV which is a very anonymous job. The flashes and the audiences are all getting used to.

It seems like the production team on the show is very close-knit, any plans for future projects?

Definitely. This team of writers and producers and the directing, choreographing team is all so close and we're all on the same wavelength. We've started to talk about the next project, because we want to stay together. It was a very easy process and even so in the moments when we made major strides in LA. We have definitely started looking at the next show.

Is there anything else that you'd like to share with your fans and BroadwayWorld.com visitors?

Just that I feel so embraced by this community, and I can't tell you how great that feels. That really surprises me coming from Toronto, because I thought that Broadway would be cutthroat, but it's great!

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