BWW Interviews: Adam Levinskas from BOOK OF MORMON on Tour
How did you get started in show business?
I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. My sisters took dance classes several nights a week, so it was easier for my Mom to just bring me along. I think I was about six when I started taking class. One weekend a bunch of the moms were taking their daughters to audition for The St. Louis MUNY and I tagged along. I marched in place and belted out "You're a Grand Old Flag" at the top of my lungs and, to my delight and surprise, ended up being cast in the children's ensemble of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. I became addicted to performing almost instantaneously. I went on to do shows at The MUNY and other local theaters for many years to come.
Where did you go to school?
I went to St. Charles West High School and was heavily involved in the theater and choral programs there. I went on to attend The Boston Conservatory and received a B.F.A in Musical Theater performance before moving to New York City.
How is it working with The Book of Mormon company?
The cast and crew of this production are absolutely incredible. The amount of talent and creativity on stage and behind the scenes is overwhelming. I'm fairly new to the company. I actually joined the tour about 6 weeks ago, and it has been nothing short of a dream come true. I remember seeing "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway when it first came out in 2011 and thinking it was the most hilarious show I had ever seen. I wanted to be a part of it SO badly. So, I still have these moments where I'm like "Whoa I'm really here. This is really happening." I feel so lucky that I can go to work every day and be a part of such an important, culturally relevant piece of theater that makes people laugh and cry and sometimes gasp in horror and encourages people to think about faith, religion, and the human experience a little differently. It's awesome.
What connection do you have to San Antonio?
San Antonio holds a special place in my heart because as a kid it was my first family vacation, and the first time I left St. Louis. My family made it an annual thing and we'd drive down in 2 days stopping overnight in Oklahoma City. We'd always visit The Alamo and The River Walk and The Ripley's Believe it or Not. It's also were my lifelong obsession with Tex Mex cuisine started. To this day it's still my favorite.
Tell us a little bit about the show.
"The Book of Mormon" It's a religious satire which focuses on two young, mismatched Mormon missionaries Elder Price and Elder Cunningham (brilliantly portrayed by Mark Evans and Christopher John O'neill) as they journey to Uganda and learn a little bit about the world, themselves, and what they believe.
What is your character in the show?
I play a Mormon missionary (Elder Young/Neely) as well as Elder Cunningham's father. I also show up as Jesus and the ghost of Adolf Hitler. So, it's definitely a wild ride.
What do you like about being on tour?
I love traveling and getting to see parts of the United States that I maybe haven't seen or don't get to see often. I love trying local delicacies and restaurants, making new friends as well as seeing old friends who live in some of the cities we're traveling to. One great thing about this tour's schedule is that we get to escape a couple months of the cold in Florida!
What don't you like about being on tour?
The only downfall about being on tour is that you are away from your friends and the people you love. Some of us in the cast have relationships back home and it means making long-distance work. It's 2013 though so with iPhones, and Facetime and Skype long-distance isn't what it used to be. It is true that 'distance makes the heart grow fonder.' Love will prevail.
What suggestions do have for people who are thinking about going into musical theater?
I would say: Pursue it if you are in love with it and cannot live without it.
Fall in love with playwrights and composers and choreographers. Fall in love with the thrill of telling stories and delivering the truth in performance. Find out why you're doing this. What do you have to give that's unique? Perfectly manicure your skill set, but know that the work is never done. Artists never stop growing. My Dad always finishes phone calls with "Be the hardest working guy in show biz". It used to annoy me when I wasn't getting results, but now I can't thank him enough. It's easy to get lazy or discouraged when the going gets tough. It's easy to get defeated when you aren't the overnight success you had always imagined you would be. It's that "biz" part of "show biz" that I think catches most people off guard. I would just caution up-and-comers that, while effectively navigating "the biz" is an important skill, "the biz" won't always love you. So, you have to really love what you do and more importantly love yourself. Surround yourself with supportive people who want you to succeed. Define your success and head straight for it. Focus on the work. Forget fame.