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BWW Interviews: Chase Padgett Kicks It Up in NASHVILLE HURRICANE

Chase Padgett as the NASHVILLE HURRICANE

Described as a "furious tale of finger-pickin' fury", NASHVILLE HURRICANE is about a poor, socially-awkward boy who grows up to become a music superstar. Chase Padgett plays all of the characters, and a mean guitar, too. Theatre Lab Houston is kicking off their 2014-2015 season with this critically acclaimed production on October 1, and I had a few questions for this multi-talented musician, creator, and actor.

BWW: You play all of the characters in NASHVILLE HURRICANE, one of which is a woman. Is there a character that resonates with you more than the others?

Chase Padgett: All of the characters resonate with me because they each represent a different side of myself. However, if I had to choose one that is the most resonant I'd have to say it's the Henry the Nashville Hurricane himself. In the show he is played as an semi-autistic prodigy with little to no social skills. He has a love of science and music that revolves around how he sees them as puzzles to solve or codes to crack. Well, that is exactly how I was a kid. I've never been diagnosed with autism but there are certain things about high functioning autistics that I can certainly relate too. Many of the characters mannerisms are my own from an earlier age, just amplified. What's crazy about it all is I've been complimented on my portrayal of someone on the spectrum by people who have autistic children and I never really did research into the subject. I just played my most innocent self, the one that existed before I learned to be social as an adult.

BWW: That's refreshing! Who were your biggest inspirations when you were growing up and honing your talents?

Chase Padgett: My biggest musical inspirations come from comedians and musicians. Comedians, particularly ones with great character range, like Phil Hartman or Chris Lilly, inspired me to embrace the character route with voice and physicality. As for musicians I'd have to say my biggest influences were Ray Charles and Tommy Emmanuel. Ray's music speaks to my soul in a way I can't really describe. It is simply the music of my heart. Tommy Emmanuel is a virtuoso acoustic guitarist who redefined what 'difficult' was on a fretboard. He's just breathtaking and the inspiration for all the musical arrangements in the show. I just kept asking myself, "how would Tommy play this song" and practiced the hell out of it.

BWW: Speaking of legends, how did you get the idea to do a one-man show about the journey of a legend?

Chase Padgett: The idea of the show came to me after reading 'The Hero of a Thousand Faces' by Joseph Campbell. I love how the concept of a hero is so universal throughout time and culture but I haven't seen that approach to narrative done with a 'guitar hero' so I thought I challenge myself to create a fictional show that embodied that kind of journey. Along, the way it ended up embodying not only a general hero's tale but elements of my own growth as a guitarist, artist and person.

BWW: You're so talented in a variety of ways. What grabbed your heart first, music or acting?

Chase Padgett: I'd have to say my love of music came first. My earliest memory of loving something I heard and being mesmerized by it happened when I was just a toddler. It's one of those things that still stands out from the ether of infancy. I was watching television and a Tom and Jerry cartoon was on. During their chase Jerry the mouse ran across a piano and then started playing it by see-sawing his body across the keys. I didn't know it then but he was playing a 12 bar boogie boogie bass line that would normally be played by a pianists left hand. What I did know was that I LOVED it and I've been drawn to it like a moth ever since.

BWW: I love that bass line! It's down and dirty and soulful all at once. This show was very successful across Canada, and I'm sure NASHVILLE HURRICANE will reap many Houston fans. How do you think the show will connect with Houston theatre-goers?

Chase Padgett: Houston seems to be a really art-savvy city, and I'm really excited to do the show here. The thing about NASHVILLE HURRICANE is that it really appeals to a big cross-section of people, people from every walk of life. When I performed the show at The Fringe in Winnipeg, it drew such diverse crowds and the show sold more tickets than ever.

For tickets to NASHVILLE HURRICANE, go to: http://thelabhou.org.

This show will be performed at The Obsidian Art Space Oct. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Photo Credit: Andy Batt

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