BWW Interview: Daxton Bloomquist of THE BOOK OF MORMON at Winspear Opera House
Last week, I caught up with Daxton Bloomquist, who is not only a leading player among the cast of THE BOOK OF MORMON tour, but a long-time member of the musical's family. While walking his dog through Louisville, Kentucky ("a surprisingly nice city"), Daxton shared his experience of being on Broadway and on the road with the hit musical. This will be the first time he's part of the company that comes to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and he is very excited for that opportunity. Reuniting with his Dallasite sister, niece and nephew over the holidays, he exclaimed that this visit is "...like my dream."
Name: Daxton Bloomquist
Hometown: "El Dorado, Kansas, which is 25 minutes away from Wichita. I later attended Wichita State before moving to New York."
Current Role: Elder McKinley in the national tour of THE BOOK OF MORMON
Kyle Christopher West: Growing up, what first inspired you to perform?
Daxton Bloomquist: You know, I'm from an athletic family, so I wasn't really inspired to do it as a career until my freshman year of college...or maybe my senior year of high school. A young woman named Katie Banks kind of had the same path as me, so I looked up to her. She coached me through it and gave me advice, and so far it's working [laughs].
Kyle: What stage experience did you have prior to joining THE BOOK OF MORMON?
Daxton: I did a lot of regional theatre: I worked at Music Theatre of Wichita, Kansas City Starlight,and Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. They were big, professional starter points for me. They bring in Broadway talent for the leads and let college kids be in the ensemble and play smaller roles. Then, I opened the Disney Fantasy [cruise ship] and when I got off the ship, I booked THE BOOK OF MORMON quickly after. I've done the show almost four years now!
Kyle: Four years is insane! How did you first join the production?
Daxton: I was actually a vacation swing when I first started, so I was only hired when vacations were coming about, and I ended up doing a medical leave on Broadway for almost nine months. That kept me there for a long time; I ended up being a swing on Broadway for about a year and a half. Then I got a phone call asking if I wanted to join the ensemble [full time], so I did that for about six months. Elder McKinley came about when another cast mate was leaving the show, and I sent a message to one of the associate directors of the show asking if I could audition for the understudy position. About a week later, I found out they actually wanted me to play the role on tour. [I'll celebrate] two years [on the tour just] before I finish in a couple months.
Kyle: What are the greatest challenges of working on the same production for so many years?
Daxton: You know, I've been really lucky because my position at work has changed a lot in terms of what role I play. I've also changed companies. The show is the same, but the type of people you work with changes a lot. I think the amount of change I've had has actually made it really easy to go four years...it doesn't seem like four years. That being said, the hardest part is every day, doing the same number and trying to find something new with it. The audience is new, but the show is not new to me. I am constantly looking for something to make it fresh, so the audience will always find something new and fresh with me, as well.
Kyle: I imagine you've seen or experienced a few onstage mishaps over the years. Is there anything memorable you can share?
Daxton: [Laughs]. I've done it all! Everything has happened to me that you can probably think of: I've forgotten lines, I've been onstage when others have forgotten lines, I've had costume mishaps, I've fallen hard core in front of the audience...nothing surprises me much any more. Of course, we don't want it to happen, but when it does, it's always a nice laugh.
Kyle: You've also been traveling across the country though an especially heated election year. Has the response from audiences changed, in your opinion?
Daxton: Honestly, no, I think we're an escape for that. I think [our show] is one place you can come in and laugh and get away from the nastiness that's out there. We want people to laugh; we want people to smile. That's our job, and that's why we do what we do, as actors.
Kyle: THE BOOK OF MORMON has visited Dallas and Fort Worth a handful of times over the past few years, but for anyone who hasn't seen it, how would you describe the show?
Daxton: You know, I try to say, "Come in as open-minded as possible." It's very SOUTH PARK...if you are familiar with SOUTH PARK, you're going to love it; if you like musicals, you're going to love it. We don't make fun of Mormons as much as we put a spin of what faith is. It's a satire, so I try not to give away many details. I think you should come in and experience it not knowing anything and see how far we cross the line. It's really fascinating. I call it "the husband show." Any wife can bring her husband and he's going to love it [laughs]!
Kyle: Lastly, when your long-term relationship with the show eventually comes to an end, are there any onstage or offstage opportunities you might seek out?
Daxton: I am coming to an end with the show [and] how I handle it is going to be really cool for me. I've never left a show on my own before. I am leaving after Dallas, and it's very bittersweet. I love the show and it means a lot to me, but there's a time when you know you have to move on. I'm ready to see what else I can do as an actor. I'm ready to let somebody else learn from the role, and I'm ready to learn from something else. I don't know what's next, and it's taken me a long time to be okay with that. I'm going back to New York. Of course I'd love to work right away, but when the time comes that will all happen. I'm trying to have a very positive attitude about it.
Kyle: Thanks for talking with me this afternoon. I'll let you enjoy your walk with your dog. We're looking forward to having you onstage at the Winspear Opera House soon!
Daxton: Thank you so much! Have a great afternoon!