Coby Getzug on tour with SPRING AWAKENING
Coby Getzug as Moritz
Photo: Andy Snow
Coby Getzug is having a pretty exciting season. The 18-year old actor has gone from doing an Equity 99-seat production of Big the Musical for West Coast Ensemble to the Broadway revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs to The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Ahmanson, all in the span of a year and a half.
He's back in Los Angeles this week playing Moritz in the national touring production of Spring Awakening at the Pantages February 8-13 and thrilled to be doing what he loves.
Coby, what is it like being out on your first national tour and performing in your home town again?
It's so exciting. All week I've been getting phone calls and text messages and emails from people saying that they're coming to see the show. Most of my family is in LA so my parents have friends coming, and my grandparents have friends coming. And I'm super excited to show my cast LA because half of them have never been here before. It's going to be a really great week.
I first saw you in West Coast Ensemble's Big the Musical and you've been pretty busy jumping back and forth from coast to coast since.
Yeah, I did Big the summer before my senior year and then a couple weeks after the show closed, I found out I got cast in the Broadway revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs so I actually spent the first semester of my senior year in New York. Then I came back to LACSA (LA County High School for the Arts) for second semester, did Inishmore at the Ahmanson over the summer and now this. It's been a really crazy year and a half.
Is LACSA where you received most of your training?
During high school I didn't really have time for many outside classes because the way the school is set up is kind of like a college conservatory. You have academic classes in the morning until lunchtime and then you have arts classes after lunch until 4:00. It's split up into four different arts disciplines and I was in theatre so I had five different theatre classes that rotated throughout the week. I also worked with The Children's Theatre Group of Southern California and took classes at the Adderley School, which is another children's theatre group in the Palisades.
Where did you audition for the Spring Awakening tour?
A lot of the cast members had auditioned before but I was never old enough. I just turned 18 last March and I was in New York City looking at colleges when my agent called. He said they were having auditions for the new tour and asked if I wanted to audition. Of course! I went in for the audition and was planning on flying home the next day. They called me that day and told me they wanted me to come back a few days later and so I ended up staying for 4 or 5 more days. A week later I got a phone call that I was cast.
How many callbacks did you have to go through?
I had my first audition, which was for the director and the casting directors, then I had a work session, and then I had a final callback, so it was really quick.
Had you seen the show before you auditioned?
I saw the original production on Broadway with the original cast and I was completely blown away. I think I was 15, but at that time it was so far away that I never thought that I would ever be a part of it. Then later I saw the first national tour when it came to the Ahmanson. So to be in it now is a dream come true.
What kind of preparation did you do for the role once you were cast?
Our director, Lucy Skilbeck, was the associate director with Michael Mayer in London so she used a lot of Michael's methods. One of the first things she had us do was read the original Frank Wedekind play, which was a huge help in understanding the characters and the world they came from. We also had our own individual research projects looking up different aspects of life in the 1890s. For me it was attitudes on suicide in that time period - the German view of it as well as the religious viewpoint. So that definitely helped a lot.
Did you find out anything in the research that surprised you?
Nothing surprised me that much, but it's interesting to see how so many similar viewpoints then are still the viewpoints now, and how attitudes on topics like homosexuality, abortion, and suicide in the 1800s are the same today. That's why I think the show will always remain relevant because there are always going to be teens that are going through those things and there will always be people around them who have those attitudes. I think that's one of the huge strengths of the show because it deals with issues that kids go through everyday.
Moritz is a really memorable character. What do you love about playing him?
I love that he's not perfect. He's all over the place. He's very scattered and very nervous and has all of these questions about what's going on, all the changes in his body and the world around him, and he has nowhere to turn. He has nowhere to get answers. I think it's so cool to play someone that scattered and that imperfect because there's so much room to explore. I can be different every night. There's a lot of freedom in that.
Did they ask you to recreate any of the previous actors' portrayal of the character?
No, although obviously there will be similarities. I thought John Gallagher was brilliant. Because most of us had seen the show before, our director was really adamant about saying that everyone who had done the show before was great and you'll be great too because so much of the show is putting yourself into the character and making it your own. A big part of that also is that when we sing and pick up those hand held microphones, we're no longer our character - we're our modern-day selves going through what our characters went through and looking at the situation through our own personal lens. So that allows a lot of room to bring your own personality into the role, which I think makes it unique.
This show takes a lot of energy in performance. How do you pace yourself during the day for the shows at night?
We travel a lot and we have a lot of really short stops so that can be taxing. We always try to sleep on our bus as much as we can to rest up for the night's show. There are times when we're exhausted but that's when we remind each other how important the show is, what a huge impact it has on people, and how fortunate we are to be part of it. Doing something we love to do in a show that has a message we believe in is totally worth it.
This is your first tour. Was there anything about touring that was unexpected?
I definitely over packed! You really don't need as much as you think. What I was most pleasantly surprised about was how well all of us get along and how much of a family we've become. We're all so close and so supportive of each other and there's this general sense of positive attitude that's always in the air.
What are your plans once the tour ends?
We tour until May and we finish in Canada. I was planning on attending UCLA this year and then the tour happened so I'm reapplying to UCLA for next year and we'll see what happens. In the meantime, I'll keep doing what I love.
You can see Coby and the rest of the cast of Spring Awakening at the Pantages Theatre February 8-13.
In addition to regular ticket sales, there will also be a day-of-performance lottery for a limited number of $25 on-stage seats held daily. Each day, 2 hours prior to show time, people who present themselves at the Pantages box office have their names placed in a lottery drum and then thirty minutes later, names are drawn for a limited number of on-stage seats at $25 each, cash only. The lottery is available only in-person at the box office, with a limit of two tickets per person. ID is required to purchase the tickets.
For more information about Spring Awakening go to www.springawakeningontour.com or visit the Pantages Theatre's official website at www.broadwayla.org.