BWW Blog: Eric Ulloa of Goodspeed's THE MOST HAPPY FELLA on Bill Nolte - A Wonderful Guy
Sometimes the stars align and the universe grants us the rare opportunity to see an actor in a role that they were born to play one day. To say that Bill Nolte is "Tony Esposito" is the understatement of the year. If you don't get misty eyed during his "Mama, Mama" or in the last 15 minutes of this show, I will buy you a drink at the Gelston House after the show (Hey Goodspeed, I can borrow that corporate credit card just in case right?). Bill is also one hell of a great guy and someone you'd just love to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine with for the stories alone. So without further ado, I give you my interview with "the most happy fella" himself, Mr. Bill Nolte.
Eric Ulloa: If you could play one role of the opposite sex from the musical theatre canon, what would that role be? Why?
Bill Nolte: Wow! Well I would usually - I would look for an actress that inspires me and then I would look at her roles. I don't really think about roles like that. The first thing that comes to mind is Mama Rose, because of the mothering instinct, but she's not really a mother, she's kind of a hard ass mother...
EU: She's a mother something.
BN: Yeah. So that kind of shoots that all to hell.
Um, isn't that funny, now I'm thinking about Mother in "Ragtime" as well. I'm thinking about all these mother roles, but she's sort of dysfunctional too as she wants more and to get out and what have you.
It would be someone that has to sing, you know? The thing is, I've done all these roles that require character singing and that's why I'm loving "Tony," because I get to really sing. So, I'm trying to think of roles that require a real singer.
You know, I think about Effie in "Dreamgirls," not that it would fit my voice but for the fact that I'm a survivor. You know, I've been ignored and I said, "I'm going to have a career!" I got out of the business for a little bit, and the whole time I was out of the business, I studied acting and voice for three years. I think most people thought I had given it up, but it was still a dream of mine to stay in the business. So yeah, maybe it would be Effie in "Dreamgirls," for her determination and because she really gets to sing out.
EU: I'd pay to see it!
Bill and Effie in Dreamgirls
EU: So when I was 16 years old and just getting into theatre, I was obsessed with the original cast album of Titanic, wearing that CD out and playing/singing every passenger and crew member onboard. My bed was serenaded by my teenage forced vibrato crooning, "The Proposal/The Night was Alive". What are some of the first cast albums that you went this crazy for and couldn't stop playing and singing?
BN: Well the absolute first album that I remember playing the crap out of was one that I got at a Goodwill store and it was a Johnny Mathis album. People used to tell me that I sounded like Johnny Mathis when I first started singing, because there was a natural quiver to my vibrato and a high larynx, kind of soft and float-y.
The first real show album I remember was in college, we used to listen to "I Got Love" from Purlie with Melba Moore screaming that out. We used to listen to it, I mean, we would have parties and all sit down and listen to it. So we wore that out, and we also wore out Dear World for some reason...I don't know why? That was really popular at CCM from '73 to '76, those were the three years that I was there.
Pippin! Pippin was the first Broadway show I ever saw. I had a chance to come to New York, for the first time, from New Jersey with my roommate from college. I had a choice to see Pippin, Seesaw, or A Little Night Music, and I choose Pippin. The other two closed and I wish I could have seen them, because I ended up moving to New York two years later and Pippin was still running - I saw it six times...for free!