BWW Interview: Roger Bart Hopes SPEECH & DEBATE Full Of Broadway References Resonates With His Daughter
While Roger Bart is known for his comedic chops in shows like Disaster!, Young Frankenstein and The Producers, he knows how to make people laugh even in some of his more serious roles.
"I've always had great pleasure from playing uptight bureaucrats who stand in the way of good," the Broadway veteran (Big River, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown) says of his latest part as the high school principal in the film, Speech & Debate available exclusively on iTunes April 2 and opening in select theaters and on VOD April 7.
The movie filmed in 2015 hailed as a 'love letter to musical theatre nerds' has a plethora of Broadway references including some from Miss Saigon and Once Upon A Mattress with cameos by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Darren Criss. Kristin Chenoweth even performs an original song for the film. The story, which is an adaptation of Stephen Karam's off-Broadway play, follows three teenagers (Liam James, Sarah Steel and Austin P. McKenzie) frustrated by the hypocrisy they see in their parents, teachers, and the entire school board which includes Bart. The unlikely trio sets out to make their voices heard as they revive a defunct school club.
Bart hopes the movie resonates with teens including his 16-year-old daughter. "I was thrilled to do something she might enjoy," Roger says. "I'll be curious to what her response is. It will speak to a lot of [teenagers]. It's whimsical, breezy and funny in a way. The message is wonderful and important."