Brent Barrett Interview
Brent Barrett will be joining a few of his Broadway friends in Philadelphia for what promises to be another wonderful event at the Kimmel Center, namely Peter Nero and the Philly Pops presentation of Broadway Showstoppers. This is his first time visiting the glass palace on Broad Street and also his first meeting with Peter Nero. Brent recalls playing in Grand Hotel at the Forrest Theater in the early 90's as his only Philly experience. So we are happy to have him return.
Brent has come a long way from his hometown of Quintner, Kansas population of about 900. There were little opportunities for performing. Being part of a musical of Calamity Jane as a junior in high school gave him the feel for what he really enjoyed doing. This led to vocal lessons and getting involved in state music competitions. From there he went to the National Association of Teachers of Singing called NATS. "I finished high school at a larger city that had a University and also attend that University for a year as a voice major then transferred to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh for about 3 and half years. I came to New York with the revival of West Side Story in 1980 and that's how I got to New York".
As far as giving advice to aspiring actors, "It's very difficult to give advice because everyone has got their own path to follow to find their way to New York however they need to find their way there. It's different for everyone. The most I can say is just stay in school and learn as much as you can. Work on your craft, acting, singing, dance lessons. Just keep studying. That's the most I can tell people."
Pati Buehler: You've done a lot of theater. I especially enjoyed your work with Kiss Me Kate with Rachel York.
Brent Barrett: Well thanks. Marin Mazzie and I opened the London company and then she left and then Carolee Carmello came in and then Rachel York finished out the year. So I did it with all three Kates. There are so few male roles in musical theater that have that kind of an art and we had a ball doing it.
PB: I'm sure you are enjoying a lot of exposure from having the video recording out there.
BB: I think it's played quite a bit. I have a friend that was flying from London to Singapore and they were playing it on Singapore Airlines. So that's nice to know it's still out there.
Brent is currently playing Billy Flynn in Chicago until June 12th. "I've taken some time off to do a few concerts. I was in Barcelona doing just that." Their Opera house has a series of concerts and after getting contacted about a year ago he was asked if he was interested in doing some concerts with them. "It was a two act program. The first act was the music of Kander and Ebb and the second act was Alan Jay Lerner, which is material from my 2 solo CD's. It went very well and we'll probably go back for their next season and maybe do Barrett does Bernstein in Barcelona. How does that sound?"
PB: I Love it. And isn't it nice to be invited back?
BB: Yes it is! They are wonderful people over there. This medium of American Musicals is very new to them. It's great that they want to open this up to their audiences. "My new project coming up is a new musical called Princesses. It was David Zipple's brainchild written with Matthew Wilder and Cheri & Bill Steinkellner who were writers on Cheers for about 7 seasons. It's based on A Little Princess set in an upstate girls school and it kind of parallels the relationships of a modern day father /daughter with the father daughter/ relationship of the story of the Little Princess. So we start rehearsals with that in July and go up to the Fifth Avenue theater in August."
PB: Any favorite role(s) from the past?
BB: I'd say the Baron in Grand Hotel and Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate. I loved doing Frank Butler (Annie Get Your Gun) both with Cathy Rigby about 10 years ago and with Reba on Broadway. Both were wonderful experiences.
PB: Almost everyone I interview always has a goal to play a new role that has not been written yet. But of the roles that are out there, is there one you would like a chance to play?
BB: You know I'd love to do the Phantom before it's all gone. It would be a challenging, interesting role to work on.
PB: I could see you in that role. Do you consider yourself a "baritenor" of sorts?
BB: (laughing) whatever anybody needs. Certainly 15 years ago I would consider myself a tenor. The older you get, your voice starts getting lower. It matures and you just don't want to sing those high notes anymore. I heard also that they are developing a stage version of Finding Neverland. That would be an interesting show to do.
PB: What do you think about what's been up on the stages of New York in the past few years?
BB: hmmmmm. It's been interesting, don't you think? I think a lot of people are trying to capitalize on the success of Mamma Mia. I guess I would say that with the way corporate theater is going, Broadway is looking more like Vegas all the time. There has to be a balance. There are 3 plays I'm looking forward to seeing before musicals and that's unusual, wouldn't you say?
PB: I have to agree with you about some of the musicals taking a back seat to other works. A question from a BWW member: what influence do you think American Idol has on entertainment today?
BB: Interestingly we were watching it the other night down in wardrobe. I haven't seen any of it this season but I was watching the audience screaming for their favorite guy and I don't always agree with what the country is judging. Talk about pressure, I don't know how these kids can even get out there and perform. My hat is off to them for this. "I also don't want to forget to tell you about a few more projects. I am producing my tenors project. We are doing two symphony concerts, one in Albany, June 19th with the Albany Symphony and one with the Hartford Symphony on July 8th. So if you have any viewers that are in those neighborhoods, please come out to the concerts."
For more information about Brent visit his website at www.brentbarrett.com
Photo Courtesy PR, Peter Nero