BWW Interview: Marc Kudisch on MCC's 'Wildly Unapologetic' HAND TO GOD, Working with Michael John LaChiusa & More
MCC Theater will soon present the Off-Broadway premiere of Robert Askins' HAND TO GOD, starring Tony nominee Marc Kudisch, Obie-winner Steven Boyer, Geneva Carr, Michael Oberholtzer, and Sarah Stiles. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, 'GOD' begins performances next Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, ahead of an official opening on March 10.
Kudisch, who scored his Tony nod in Dolly Parton's 9 TO 5, was most recently seen in Second Stage's THE BLUE FLOWER and Lincoln Center's A MINISTER'S WIFE, takes on the role of 'Pastor Greg' in the production, which follows the students of Christian Puppet Ministry. Taught to obey the Bible in order to avoid Satan, one student's puppet, Tyrone, takes on a personality that no one saw coming - and soon teaches those around him that the urges that can drive a person to give in to their darkest desires fit like a glove.
Kudisch took some time out of rehearsals to chat with BroadwayWorld about being apart of the 'wildly unapologetic' HAND TO GOD, his ongoing working relationship with Michael John LaChiusa, and the status of his upcoming projects.
For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe HAND TO GOD?
Let's just say...it's set in a small Texas town and a puppet ministry, and about a young boy who has the devil move through him - who then speaks through his puppet. I think the play is really about pain, and that the point isn't where the pain comes from, but how you deal with it.
When you read the play, what initially drew you in?
Well, it's really funny. I'm of the belief that funny can be very easy. But I think that funny with a point and purpose, that's something far more interesting. [The play is based on] a very outrageous idea, and through the outrageous, some really interesting questions come out, and sometimes the play can be uncomfortable. And I like anything that is uncomfortable, anything unsettling. I like any piece of theater that allows the audience to become consciously or unconsciously a part of it.
When [HAND TO GOD] was running Off-Off-Broadway, I had gotten a chance to see it because I knew Moritz [von Stuelpnagel], and I remember thinking it was so outrageous and that they took it to a wildly funny and wonderfully dark place. When they called and said that they were interested in me - and I was certainly interested in them - I thought, 'how can I be a part of this? What can I do to add to it?' That's the only reason that I really want to do anything in theater - if I can offer a point of view that can enhance it.
So yes, it is funny, but the 'funny' has been given to me. Moritz said on the first day of rehearsal, "Let's not worry about the funny. Let's get to the truth of the characters." And I was just like "hooray!"
So, as an actor, how do personally get to the 'truth' of a character?
We're all human beings, and life can be outrageous, which we all know. But Rob's [Askins] play is taken from some of his experience in the world...I just love that it stemmed out of something very truthful for him.
What's it like for you playing off of Steven Boyer as Tyrone, who's then playing off of himself as the human character of Jason?
Well, Steven's great. What's really groovy about watching Steven, who's been working on this character [Jason, the human, and Tyrone, the puppet] for a long time, is how deep he goes. There are a lot of actors who get on stage and kind of let the audience know that they're in on it. But Steven's performance is not about 'Look at me!' He's very deep in his character, which I love. He takes it very seriously, and it's wildly hilarious. Steven's just really great. I'm a fan.