Interview: Sam Gravitte Talks SONGS THAT RAISED ME at Post Office Cafe and Cabaret and BEAUTIFUL at Cape Playhouse

Performer makes Cape debut in Provincetown on July 6 then heads to Cape Playhouse in Dennis July 10 through August 3

By: Jul. 02, 2024
Interview: Sam Gravitte Talks SONGS THAT RAISED ME at Post Office Cafe and Cabaret and BEAUTIFUL at Cape Playhouse
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Interview: Sam Gravitte Talks SONGS THAT RAISED ME at Post Office Cafe and Cabaret and BEAUTIFUL at Cape Playhouse

Singer, actor, and writer Sam Gravitte will not only be making his performance debut in Provincetown when he appears in John McDaniel’s Broadway Series, at the Post Office Café and Cabaret on July 6, it will be his first visit to the town.

It won’t be Gravitte’s only Cape Cod debut this summer, though. He will also be playing Carole King’s first husband and songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin, in the Cape Playhouse production of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” from July 10 through August 3 in Dennis.

Some people like having their feet in the sand during the summer, but Gravitte prefers that his be firmly planted on a concert or theater stage. The son of Tony Award winner Debbie Shapiro Gravitte (“Jerome Robbins’ Broadway”) and actor and director Beau Gravitte (former artistic director of The Actors Studio) is continuing a family tradition.

A graduate of Connecticut’s Ridgefield High School, where he did musicals including “Les Misérables” while also a standout football and lacrosse player, Gravitte went on to attend Princeton University. There he played on the nationally ranked lacrosse team while also playing lead roles in the university’s theatrical shows.

After graduating from Princeton in 2017, he wasted no time in signing with a talent agency, which set him up with vocal coach Matt Farnsworth. Before long, Gravitte became an understudy for the role of Fiyero on the North American tour of “Wicked.” After 18 months on the road, he joined the ensemble of “Wicked” on Broadway. Seven weeks later, he landed the role of Fiyero, which he assumed when Broadway reopened after Covid in the fall of 2021.

Gravitte – who made his New York cabaret debut with “Songs That Raised Me” at Birdland Jazz Club in 2022 – has also been seen in “Almost Famous” at The Old Globe in San Diego and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” at Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, Texas, and is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio.

By telephone recently from his home in New York, Gravitte talked about his upcoming dates in Provincetown and Dennis, working with McDaniel, and more.

What can your Provincetown audience expect from your July 6 show at the Post Office Café and Cabaret?

I’m going to be doing a new version of “Songs That Raised Me.” It will include stories about my parents, my older brother Charlie, who is not in the business, my twin sister Ellie, who is, and my twin obsessions with jazz and musical theatre. I’ll likely open with “Come Fly with Me,” the Jimmy Van Heusen song with lyrics by Sammy Cahn that Frank Sinatra made famous. I like doing that one first because it’s an invitation to join me for the show. The opening few numbers will also include “Out There” from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” And there’s a dancing section, so I’ll probably be doing “Dancing through Life” from “Wicked,” and a mix of jazz and showtunes, too.

Being that they are both performers, did your parents encourage you to go into show business?

They didn’t so much encourage as inspire me. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be on Broadway. I loved what my parents did, and I wanted to join them in the family business. I grew up in a commuter town and while the trains were packed with business people headed into Manhattan for work, my mom would be flying to London to sing with a symphony orchestra. That really made an impression on me – I was very proud of her from an early age.

Both my parents, however, always encouraged me to do other things like athletics. They didn’t want me to miss out on anything. My twin sister and I were very competitive in the classroom and on the sports fields at Ridgefield High. That never hurt us either. I was recruited to play lacrosse at Princeton and my sister went to Brown University as a javelin thrower.

Do your parents ever give you notes after a performance?

Yes, very honestly, yes, they do, but only when I ask. I’m developing my own way of working, my own thought process. I’m fortunate, though, because my parents and I have a very trusting relationship with the added layer of artistic collaboration. Ours is more of a symbiotic relationship than pedagogical.

What is your sister doing now?

Ellie is a filmmaker and freelance film editor based in New York. We shot a short film – which I wrote and starred in – called “State Lines,” on location in North Salem, N.Y. It’s a two-hander that co-stars Evelyn Giovine, and it’s on the festival circuit now. Ellie is my rock and always has been.

Have you ever been to the Cape before?

Previously I spent two days on the Cape visiting a friend from my lacrosse days. I’ve never been to Provincetown, though, so this will be my maiden voyage there. I was already booked to do “Beautiful” at the Cape Playhouse when John McDaniel called to ask me if I wanted to do a one-night-only concert appearance in his Broadway Series. The timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous because the Provincetown date is just three days before I open in Dennis. John is an amazing musician and a wonderful person. It’s going to be an honor to have him accompany me on the piano in Provincetown.

What attracted you to “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”?

The show is immensely popular – it’s been floating around for years, from Broadway to road tours to regional theaters. I saw it on Broadway with Abby Mueller some time ago and loved it, but this was my first opportunity to do it. I’m a major fan of all the music in the show, and I still find myself thinking, “Oh my god, they wrote that, too?” Between Carole and Gerry, they had something like 117 Billboard hits. Their songs are amazing, from “Up on the Roof,” which is gorgeous and one of my true favorites, to “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” and so many more.

Gerry Goffin was not only a very talented lyricist, he was also a complex person. What do you do to prepare to play him?

I think there’s a lot about Gerry that’s exciting to explore. He’s a gift to play and a brilliantly written character in Douglas McGrath’s book. Our director, David Ruttura, and choreographer, Joyce Chittick, have a deep fluency with this show and that is helping a lot, because out of 18 people in our cast, three are first-timers and I’m the only principal who’s doing it for the first time.

At only two and a half weeks, it is a fast and furious rehearsal process, too, but it’s great. And I feel very grateful to be in this with the incredible Julia Knitel, who’s playing Carole. Julia is everything you could want in a scene partner and she sounds incredible.

Will your schedule allow time for relaxing while you’re on the Cape?

I’ll have some free time in Dennis and I definitely plan to find my way to the beach. I’m better when I’m busy, though, and I’m always ready to do more.


Photo caption: Sam Gravitte on stage at the 92nd Street Y, with Ted Sperling at the piano. Photo by Richard Termine. Head shot of Sam Gravitte by Justin Patterson.


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