Broadway Bullet Interview: Romain Fruge from Some Men

This week, we talk to Romain Fruge from the new Terrance McNally play "Some Men." He also performs the song "River in the Rain" from "Big River."

Romain Fruge created the role of Ethan in "The Full Monty." He also appeared on Broadway in "The Threepenny Opera," "Titanic," "Tommy," and "The Secret Garden." He also appeared in the New York and national tour of "Big River" as Huck.

"Some Men" is currently playing at Second stage for more info and tickets click here.

 You can listen to this interview and many other great features for free on Broadway Bullet vol. 110. Subscribe for free so you don't miss an episode.

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Broadway Bullet Interview: Romain Fruge from Some Men

 

 

 

BroadwayBullet: Some Men has just extended to April 22, and we have one of the very talented ensemble members with us, Romain Fruge. How are you doing?

Romain Fruge: Good. Hello.

BB: Let's talk about Some Men for a moment. I think it's safe to say we aren't pigeon holing it by calling it a gay play.

RF: No, it's pretty gay, as one of the actors says in one of the scenes. It's a gay play that takes a historical or epic look at the last century in the lives of gay men. In starts at a gay wedding, contemporary. And the scenes are episodic. It doesn't necessarily follow the same character's arc through the play. And it flips around to different decades in the lives of the people attending the wedding, when they find love. And some of the people relate to some characters later on that are somewhat ancestors of the people attending the wedding. And it touches on a lot of different subjects: Gay weddings, gay fathers, pre-stonewall in the closet lifestyles, all through the last century.

BB: And the playwright is kind of inexperienced in this area.

RF: Terrence McNally is-

BB: Who's Terrence McNally?

(laughs)

RF: Terrence has done quite a, has a body of work-

BB: For our listeners who may not know, Love,Valor, Compassion, and Master Class among many award winning plays.

RF: (undistinguishable) …The book to many a big musical in the past 2 decades or so. Kiss of the Spiderwoman, The Full Monty, I was in the Full Monty a few years back. So I got to work with Terrance then, and he remembered me from full Monty. I was interested to work with him again. It's been real surreal to work with him. I was telling somebody at a Talkback the other day that in Full Monty I didn't get to work directly with Terrence as intensively or intensely. Because in a musical there's so many different elements coming together. They were rewriting different songs, and you're learning songs and you're learning dances and there are so many different theatre artists putting this thing together. But this has been much more intensive. The whole experience has been kind of wonderful.

BB: Were any of the songs in the soundtrack yours?

RF: Well in Full Monty, I sing in a number of group things. Because I was one of the 6 guys that do the Full Monty show. Then there's a duet between me and Jason Danieley called "Walk with Me" where it takes place at a funeral. He's at his mother's funeral, he has a little trouble. He breaks down at one point. And I come in. Actually we're the gay storyline in that show. We sort of discover that we're in love with each other in The Full Monty. So that was the one gay element of that show. But here I am again representing.

BB: Now what has been some of the biggest challenges with Some Men?

RF: There hasn't been what'd I'd call challenging just because it's been a very positive productive experience. A lot happened with the writing of the play and the organization of the play. The order of the scenes where switched around early on in rehearsal. There were quite a few scenes rewritten. We had a lot of rewrites. In fact during previews, we previewed for 3 weeks. And they rewrote a lot of things; we'd get new scenes, new sections of scenes. So the show'd be going on quite nicely and then we'd get some bumpy roads as we were putting them into the show, having a rehearsal during the day then a performance at night, in front of an audience. So that was kind of thrilling. But that was one of the toughest things and one of the most exciting things I guess about it.

BB: Was there a lot of interplay between Terrence McNally and the director and the cast?

 

RF: Oh very much. He was there at most rehearsals and a lot of discussion between hi, and the director and sometimes the actors about different elements of the play. But certainly he was writing it. It was not like we had lots of say in what was happening but certainly the director and he worked a lot on changes and things. And we were right in there with him.

BB: It seems to be a definite theme with the show, in a ot of gay plays in the past, they really try to focus on the momentous occasion. In a lot of ways that seems to be where the title came from. I'm going to take a guess from a lot of scenes take place away from anything having to do with a movement. For example there's a scene where there's a riot is going on with Stonewall but your character and a bunch of other people at a musical theatre bar away from it not wanting to take part.

RF: Right. That was sort of, the play, even before we were working on it had a lot of reincarnations at the workshop. There was even a production in Philadelphia before it came here. It was quite different. Quite a different play. Early on Terrance said there was a scene at Stonewall where people were coming in with bloody heads from the riots. And he was right in there with it. But then he ended up with this approach where it was sort of a sideline sort of thing. Sort of a storyline I think I have never come across, point of view sort of thing. Where there are 2, sort of queens and a group, it's in a piano bar like the Monster sort of thing. They sort of represent an early generation then the generation of the younger people having the riots outside. They're sort of in a cocoon-enclosed sort of world that they feel safe in. And they're confronted by their world. It's right outside at the front door. A young sort of, I don't want to call him an activi9st because it's not the activist period, but a young kid who's just about to get in the rally and the riots, who sort of confronts them about it and about their complacency and their passiveness to this whole world changing thing. I guess Terrance wanted to point out at the time these people didn't know that this would be this historical event that would always be talked about that night. It was just a crisis point that turned into something bigger. In any case there are these people in their enclosed little world and then there is this drag queen that comes into the Stonewall and at the time even in gay bars, drag was kind of against the law, or you could definitely get arrested for being in drag, so the drag queen is actually ridiculed and almost thrown out of the bar by the bartender. She kind of takes control and inspire my character, who is kind of the traditional show queen kind of guys to think about what's going on. My character and Michael McElroy's character have kind of an epiphany sort of thing. Maybe we need to go out there and at least see what's going on in this world. And I won't say how the scene ends because it's the end of Act 1, but come see it. It's kind of an interesting angle that I don't think has been approached before.

BB: Now you've been in The Full Monty and this. How many plays have you been naked in?

RF: Just 2. I'm only naked in Terrence McNally plays. It's a rather intimate scene. It's actually a love scene which is really sweet. I was sort of discussing this with my mom when we were talking about it. "I don't think you can come see this show because it takes place in a gay bathhouse." I'm okay with doing this scene but I can't have my mom watch me have sex in a gay bathhouse. In any case I eventually came to grips with the fact because my acting partner in the scene, Kelly AuCoin is strait and married. And his mom's already come to see it. She can handle it. But, what was I going to say, It's actually a love scene which is actually kind of sweet. They're discovering that they're in love with each other. The fact that it happens to be in a gay bathhouse. Yeah it's been interesting. I've certainly had trepidations early on, mostly about getting naked. Also, I'm a gay actor. Not that it makes a big difference, well it kind of does make a difference because you kind of have to figure- and when I discovered Kelly was doing the show and was straight, I thought this would be even more intense. "What is this going to be like? Oh man" Me making out with this guy who is kind of- whatever. It made it more nerve wracking. But Kelly's so fantastic. He's such a wonderful actor and a wonderful person it was never an issue. It was more the 2 of us thinking. "Oh no, how naked are we gonna be?" It turned out not to be too bad. Out biggest concern is how cold it is backstage.

BB: I don't know if this is one of your first things but I know early on you were involved in one of my favorite musicals- Big River.

RF: Yeah, that was my first Broadway show back in… I guess I started in '87 I believe. I moved to New York in '86. So it was right when I moved in '86. I went on the road with Big River in '87. And that was a wonderful thrilling experience that whole thing.

BB: Before we started the interview I heard you strumming. I don't know if by any chance you feel comfortable singing a brief part of one of the songs do you?

RF: I wouldn't even know what key to do it in.

BB: Let's give it a shot.

Listen to Broadway Bullet Vol. 110 to hear his performance of "River in the Rain"

BB: People have till April 22 to see Some Men?

RF: April 22 at this point. There's a possible 'nother week extension but we haven't heard about that yet.   

BB: I heard a reason everybody's hoping for it.

RF: Yeah we all love doing the play and we want to do it as long as we can, till the 29th. But there are a bunch of us who will get our insurance weeks. So that's always an actor's concern believe me.

BB: Well I thank you so much for coming down and sharing your thoughts on the show and some of the other things, Romain.

RF: Sure thank you so much. It's been a pleasure.

BB: Wish you the best of luck. 

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You can listen to this interview and many other great features for free on Broadway Bullet vol. 110. Subscribe for free so you don't miss an episode.

 or MP3 Feed with XML



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From This Author Michael Gilboe