BWW Interview: Joshua Henry's Performing in Motown and Returning to the Stage in THE WRONG MAN
Almost a year to the day of ending his Tony Award-nominated run as Billy Bigelow in the 2018 revival of Carousel, Joshua Henry is returning to the stage on Sept. 18. He'll star as the title character in multi-platinum singer-songwriter Ross Golan's new musical The Wrong Man, Off-Broadway, at the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space.
"This is a very special moment for me," says Henry about his return to theatre. "After Carousel, l wanted to take time off from the stage and focus on my family, TV work and music. I'm trying to wrap my head around being a part of this brilliant production and coming back together with the Hamilton team."
In the two weeks leading up to The Wrong Man's opening, Henry turned 35, started tech rehearsals and is preparing to fly to Detroit for a one-night "Live and Unplugged" concert on Saturday, Sept. 14 followed by teaching two student master classes in Michigan on Sunday.
"And somewhere, in the midst of all this, I thought it was a good idea to move," Henry laughs about getting a new Manhattan apartment with his wife and their 17-month-old son.
Henry's bringing his three-piece band and his six-string guitar Saturday to open Cabaret 313's seventh season at the Detroit Opera House, home to the Michigan Opera Theatre. In a special intimate setting, the audience will sit onstage at bistro tables with Henry and his band.
What can concertgoers expect from the three-time Tony and Grammy nominee on Saturday night?
"Since this is my first time in Detroit, I'm going to have to bust out some Motown. The concert will be a mix of cabaret, jazz, bluegrass and Broadway tunes from Rent, Porgy and Bess and The Wiz, to name a few," says Henry.
Adding to that eclectic music set will be some of Henry's acoustic jams that he's dubbed "BigelowFlows," a nod to his Billy Bigelow character in Carousel. And Hamilton lovers will not be disappointed either, as the former Aaron Burr promises some signature #hamjams as well. Good thing, too, since The Wrong Man reunites Henry with fellow Hamilton friends and collaborators, Tony Award-winning Director Thomas Kail and three-time Tony Award-winning orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, who have given Henry time off of The Wrong Man final rehearsals to perform in Detroit.
"I pride myself in not missing shows or rehearsals in the last 15 years of my career. But Tom [Kail] knows that my heart is with prepping the next generation of artists, and I am so grateful that he knows how important it is to me to take this weekend off to do that in Detroit," says Henry.
A part of the Cabaret 313 mission is to support arts in schools which includes sponsoring Henry, and other visiting performers, to teach master classes with the Mosaic Youth Theatre in Detroit.
"This has become one of my highest callings. I just try to life up and encourage kids in the arts on a voyage of personal growth. I think there's so much that can be done for our career outside of our craft. I like to talk to students about honing their skills while setting time aside to enrich their physical, spiritual and nutritional growth," says Henry who often promotes his #GrowWithThat sessions on social media.
Last May, Henry met with the University of Michigan School of Musical Theatre (UMSMT) Class of 2019 the day before their NYC Showcase and offered practical and inspiring advice about their next steps as young artists in the business. He was invited to Ann Arbor this weekend, following his Cabaret 313 show, to talk with UMSMT students by UM Department of Musical Theatre Chair, Vincent J. Cardinal, who had Henry as a student when Cardinal was the University of Miami Theatre Chair.
"Joshua has always been a hard worker, extremely talented and genuinely kind. When he was a student at the University of Miami, I'd have to throw him out of the dance studio at 2 a.m.-- not because I didn't want him to practice, but because I lived below the dance studio," Cardinal laughs. "I'd hear him tapping and practicing difficult combinations, determined to get it right. He always put in the extra hours after the rehearsal ended at 11:00 p.m. He was, and is, an actor who works harder than anyone else, sets the bar higher than anyone else and delights in the successes of everyone else.
"Joshua Henry is the rare, genuine triple-threat, regularly starring on Broadway as a singer, dancer and an actor, and excelling in all three areas," adds Cardinal. "Area audiences will get a glimpse of this powerhouse talent in his rare cabaret appearance at Cabaret 313. One of our nation's most in-demand live performers, and a young dad, his schedule allows for few opportunities to bring his work to the cabaret stage. This will be a very special event."
Cabaret 313 presents Joshua Henry in concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway, Detroit, Mich. Tickets are $200 and $125 preferred seating, $60 general admission and $25 ages 40 and younger. To order, go to www.cabaret313.org or call (313) 405-5061.
Connect with Joshua Henry on Twitter @joshuahenry20 and Instagram at joshuahenryoffical @TheWrongManShow @mcctheater