BWW Interviews: Brandon Curry Talks GHOST: THE MUSICAL
Fresh off of Broadway, the visually spectacular GHOST: THE MUSICAL is making an appearance in Houston as part of Gexa Energy's Broadway at the Hobby Center series. The musical follows the plot of the Oscar-winning film Ghost and features a score written by Dave Stewart (one half of the 80s pop duo The Eurythmics) and Glen Ballard (co-writer with Alanis Morissette on the multi-platinum album Jagged Little Pill, among many other notable credits and collaborations). Recently, Brandon Curry, who plays the Subway Ghost, took some time out his busy tour schedule to talk to me about his career, GHOST: THE MUSICAL, and why Houston should be gearing up to see this production.
BWW: How did you first get involved in theatre?
Brandon Curry: My mom saw a news clipping in the local paper back home for this regional touring production. Growing up, I used to play a lot of sports, and I was in the band too. I never tried theatre, but everyone was always like, "You should just try theatre. I think you'd like it." My mom took me to the audition, and I booked that show. I have been exploring theatre ever since then. It kind of hooked me in with that first thing. It was called TWIST AND SHOUT. It was about teen dating violence. It was super dramatic, and I loved it.
BWW: When did you realize you wanted to perform professionally?
Brandon Curry: I think I was 17 and a senior in high school. I was in a pre-professional program, and we were studying Mizner, Grotowski's Viewpoints, Suzuki, and our teacher was one of the working actors in my town. I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. There's tons of theatre there and tons of people make their lives teaching theatre in school and performing at the local equity houses and community theatres. I asked my teacher what his real job was, and he said, "This is my real job. This is what I do. I'm in the plays here, and I also teach you guys." At that moment, I realized it was possible to do it and that I wanted to pursue it full force. I didn't want to do anything else or have a back-up plan.
BWW: How did you come to be involved with the National Tour of GHOST: THE MUSICAL?
Brandon Curry: You know, it was just like another New York audition last summer. I went to an open call. Joy Dewing, who cast the show, wasn't there. She was casting another production, so I auditioned for one of her associates, and I was called in again to be seen by Joy. I got seen by Joy, and then I went through several rounds of callbacks and eventually got the offer. I try to go to as many auditions as I can in the city, and this was just one that ended up being really cool and an awesome opportunity. I'm glad that I got to take it.
BWW: You're playing the Subway Ghost, which is a pretty important character to the plot. How did you prepare for this role?
Brandon Curry: To be perfectly honest, I listened to a lot of Kanye West. (Laughs) I studied about posttraumatic stress disorder and things that have to do with addiction. Based on my knowledge of people who dwell on the subway, I kind of had to study to figure out who, for me, this person was in relationship to this play, the text, and what was given to me. That was really fun actually because I even got into researching PTSD with Army veterans, taggers, and the culture of spray paint and wall tagging in New York City.
Also, with the spoken word and rap kind of poem, it was awesome to go back and study some Hip-Hop history and really figure out where he [the Subway Ghost] would be in that world. I feel like the music is just as much a part of the story and story telling as any other part. So, that was really fun to explore and learn about as well.
BWW: GHOST: THE MUSICAL made a splash on Broadway with its innovative technology and visual tricks. Without giving away too much, what can audiences in Houston expect to see in the tour?
Brandon Curry: There are amazing, amazing visual effects! Traditionally, when you go see a play there are tons of backdrops, scenery, and things flying in and floating out. We have these amazing LED screens that help us enhance the story and give you a vivid representation. We can go from a New York City street, to a café, to a police department in moments. It's really cool to witness this happening in theatre in general because it's a very new thing. Not many people are doing it, but a few productions companies are really catching on to it. So, it's really cool to see it and be a part of it.
BWW: What is your favorite moment in GHOST: THE MUSICAL?
Brandon Curry: My favorite moment, without giving too much away, would have to be the first subway scene. There is brilliant magic choreographed by Paul Kieve, who actually is a hugely successful magician and illusionist. He worked on the national tour of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA that's out right now, he worked on the Harry Potter movies, he did all the magic choreography for the original productions of GHOST: THE MUSICAL and the Broadway production as well, he's been with the UK tour, and he's been with us. He was really hands on with us and taught us his genre of illusion. It's great! You get to see people floating along with the LED choreography. It's just really cool to see all those things happen and the reaction from the audience because they truly have no idea how it's working. So, yeah, the first subway scene is really cool. You get to go on a cool journey with the cast on stage. It's very interactive.
BWW: In your opinion, why should Houston audiences be excited to see GHOST: THE MUSICAL?
Brandon Curry: I think that audiences should be excited to see GHOST: THE MUSICAL because it's a timeless love story with a modern interpretation. I think the reason people love going to see romantic comedies in the movie theaters all the time-and a lot of times they're the same story-is because those beautiful qualities of love and loss are things everyone can relate to and see in a new way. Then, we have really awesome music by Glen Ballard and Dave Stewart. So, it's really kind of a Rock n' Roll show, and it's something we've never really seen before. I think people should be excited to get to be a part of that.
BWW: Are there any dream roles that you hope to play?
Brandon Curry: I have a few. I would love to play the Leading Player in PIPPIN. I would love to be Angel in RENT. I would love to be Mercutio in ROMEO & JULIET. Those are roles that would really excite me.
BWW: What advice would you offer to others hoping to make a career on the stage?
Brandon Curry: I would just recommend going ahead and starting to build up a tough skin and a life practice of resilience, perseverance, and positivity. Those things are what really get you through. These moments are great when you're in a show, on the road, in New York, and you're performing, and it's there, and it's great. But, the grind and the hustle of the business of acting, the auditioning, the waiting, and the getting told "no" really takes a strong person. One who can see the silver lining and knows when to take their opportunities and really appreciate them for what they are. I think that's what I would recommend. And, just work hard. Hard work pays off in this business.
GHOST: THE MUSICAL, presented by Gexa Energy and Broadway Across America, plays the Sarofim Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby Street, Houston, 77002 from February 18 to 23, 2014. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and Saturday at 2:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. For tickets and more information please visit http://houston.broadway.com or call (800) 952-6560.