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InDepth InterView PreView: Marc Kudisch Talks SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS Concert Event & More

Today we are presenting a special preview of an upcoming InDepth InterView with acclaimed stage and screen star Marc Kudisch all about HAND TO GOD and his many recent endeavors with this exclusive portion today focusing on the upcoming gala charity event honoring EGOT recipient Marvin Hamlisch to benefit the American Cancer Society. In the complete conversation, Kudisch and I analyze all aspects of his brand new Broadway hit HAND TO GOD and parse the finer points of the religion-themed comedy as well as touch on his thoughts on the daring, thought-provoking and edgy Robert Askins play. Additionally, in the full chat, Kudisch and I look back at some of his most notable roles, ranging from THE WILD PARTY to 9-TO-5 to his recent Shakespeare turn opposite Paul Giamatti in HAMLET and stint on Netflix's hit drama series HOUSE OF CARDS as well as much more.

SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS will feature Kudisch as JJ Hunsecker alongside stage and screen breakout star Jeremy Jordan as Sidney Falcone in addition to Adam Jacobs as Dallas, Lindsay Mendez as Rita, Marissa McGowan as Susan, Bernard Dotson, Steven Brindberg, Peter Dugan and Charles Yang. Ensemble members are Craig Blake, Dionne Figgins, Matt Gibson, Justin Henry, Reed Kelly, Amanda Kloots, Ryan Steer, Mindy Wallace, Chryssie Whitehead, Ryan Worsing and Sam Zack.

John Simpkins directs, with music direction by J. Ernest Green and choreography by Emmy Winner Tyce Diorio. Chris Dallos provides lighting, Bob Rendon sound, and Tony winner Peter Lawrence is Stage Manager. James Cunningham is Associate Music Director. Also, a 16-piece orchestra will play the score.

More information on SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS in concert is available here.

At The Fountain

PC: How did you get involved with the SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS gala concert?

MK: Well, they asked me to do it and I looked at the cast and the director and the rest and then I was sort of like, "Well, why not?" and then I got an e-mail from Marvin [Hamlisch]'s widow after I agreed and she said, "We are so thrilled that you are doing it and that you are going to be a part of it."

PC: JJ is not known as a big singing role, though John Lithgow famously won the Tony for it. Needless to say, you certainly will be able to handle the vocal demands of the score given your range.

MK: Let me tell you a quick story: WAYSIDE MOTOR INN was the last thing I did before HAND TO GOD on Broadway - and, what a great play. A great play, a great cast of actors, a great director - wildly talented people. It was a play written in 1977 and A.R. Gurney did not want them to do it - he always thought of it as his scarlet letter play. It was way before its time and we just did it and it was a masterful piece. That play was so beautiful and what he wrote was so gorgeous. What excited me about doing it was that it was a real ensemble play - 10 actors, everyone was equal. It was phenomenal and I worked with phenomenal actors in a fantastic production - funny and touching and intense. Those are the things where I feel my skill set lies - and, no, I didn't sing. You don't need me to sing - trust me. I can sing for you, sure, but there has got to be tension, though - you have got to want me, and if you don't want me than I am not your guy.

PC: SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS is one of the darkest and tension-filled musicals of the modern era, no doubt.

MK: When the director asked me to do it, I said, "Tell me what you are thinking," and then he started telling me about things that may not have worked out so well the first time around and what could work better this time around - and, I knew the production very well and I agreed. Then, he said Jeremy was playing Sidney and I said, "Well, OK!"

PC: That sealed the deal.

MK: That's the right choice - he's perfect for the part. I am a huge fan of Jeremy's - I love Jeremy. I have known Jeremy a long time and I think he is a very talented guy.

PC: The pivotal scene of the show is "Psalm 151" where JJ basically buys Sidney's soul - in a church, no less. The irony of you starring in HAND TO GOD as a pastor simultaneously with this is not lost, certainly.

MK: I know the scene you are talking about. With a play like SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS - a dark story - I really feel that it needs to go further than it did the first time, though, which is one of the reasons I am excited about doing this. I think it needs to explore the psyche of everything and everyone much more than it did before. You know, the relationship that JJ has with his sister? That needs to come out even more, I think.

PC: Do you think he is outright in love with her?

MK: Yes. I think he is completely and totally in love with her. And, you know, he is, again, one of those people who feels that he is moralistically right in what he does. But, there's that fine line, man - when you get to that position and you start to believe your own crap. You really believe you have a responsibility to the well-being of the world and all of your readers - mind you, you're talking about a gossip columnist here, you're not talking about a journalist...

PC: An important differentiation to make.

MK: There's this fine line where his own personal tastes become the moral backbone of America in his mind - where he can actually blackmail a senator and not feel an edge of grossness or guilt about doing it because, at the end of the day, he is calling out the hypocrisy of that senator. And, he's in a position to be able to do that, because nobody else can. When you become a knight of that color, things become confusing.

PC: Speaking of senators, you appeared on the third season of HOUSE OF CARDS - will you be on the fourth, as far as you know?

MK: As far as I know right now, I will be involved.

PC: Did you enjoy working on that show?

MK: Oh, yeah! Are you kidding me, dude?! I was head-to-head with Kevin [Spacey]! I was right there - the new Republican senate majority leader, so I am now his biggest problem in the senate. I can't wait for what's next.

PC: A pastor in HAND TO GOD, ultra-conservative JJ in SWEET SMELL, a major Republican figurehead on HOUSE OF CARDS... I sense a theme.

MK: They are the most interesting people. Those that find themselves to be the most morally upright are the most interesting people.

PC: The layers underneath are what interest you.

MK: It was the same with THE WILD PARTY when I did that - I remember sitting there with the people who did it and saying at the time, "God, the revival of this is going to be amazing." It was ahead of its time. I remember I said that to Michael John [LaChiusa] and George [Wolfe]. You know, sometimes you are dealing with something or someone that is just ahead of its time - Pete Gurney with WAYSIDE MOTOR INN was ahead of his time; Michael John was absolutely ahead of his time with THE WILD PARTY. SWEET SMELL was ahead of its time. That's why I gravitate to those things.

PC: SWEET SMELL will certainly offer a chance to explore something that has the chance to have an impact in a whole new way.

MK: Oh, yeah - I am genuinely looking forward to it. And, to know Jeremy is going to be there and that I am playing off of him - I just love him. It's the same with Brian D'Arcy James when he did that show - those guys are really, really good at what they do and their skill sets are singular, in my opinion. Jeremy can play the tension and still keep the heart and possess the colors to always be likable and yet be despicable at the same time - that is not easy; that is not easy at all.

PC: The recent PARADE concert offered him a chance to display that, as well - particularly in his masterful "Come Up To My Office".

MK: Jeremy is brilliant - just brilliant. He can play so many shades at all the same time - that is part of his skill set.

PC: Did you ever know Marvin personally?

MK: I wish I knew him better. What actually surprised me most when I was asked to do this - I already knew the director, John [Simpkins], and he had already said to me, "I've always pictured you in this role - I've always wanted you for this role." And, then, I got the e-mail from Terri and she was so complimentary and said she and Marvin thought I was just phenomenal and I was like, "Wow! I had no idea." So, I can't wait to hear the score with a 16-piece orchestra as Marvin intended it - and to actually perform with them.

PC: It's been quite a while since your last musical role.

MK: I know. I know. I'm not going to lie, I'm enjoying not doing any runs of musicals right now - I'm really happy with where I am and what I am doing because I feel what I am doing is how I best serve what we do as actors. Somebody said to me last night at SOMETHING ROTTEN!, "Doesn't seeing that just make you want to get up onstage with them?" and I said, "No!" and I say that with all respect. I enjoy being in the audience and watching my friends be better at that than anybody in the world and it just makes it clearer to me - "No, I do not want to be on the stage with them, I want to be in the audience cheering them on and I want to now be able to do our show, to do HAND TO GOD." I believe in doing a play that nobody has seen before or allowing them to see it in a new way - I think that is the greatest gift as an actor that we have; to add a small string to the bigger fabric.

Stay tuned to BroadwayWorld for my complete conversation with Marc Kudisch all about HAND TO GOD and more coming later this month!




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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)