Actor Kevin Massey is currently onstage through May 1 as Monty Navarro in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder at the Ahmanson Theatre. He chats with us about the challenges of playing the role and other theatrical interests.

What is the biggest challenge in playing Monty 8 times a week?

Staying hydrated! I have to make sure I drink enough water during the day. I hardly have a chance to drink any water during the course of the show, because I am onstage 99% of the time!

How do you prepare regularly for a performance? Do you have a strict regimen of daily exercise? I ask this because the energy that you have to put out for each performance is quite amazing.

I make sure I take time to stretch and warm up my body a bit. This role is deceivingly physical, with share turns, leans, leaning and holding, falling, climbing...the list goes on. I find that if I prepare my body enough, then I feel much better about giving that much energy every night. It's a fun role, so I try to think of the joy giving me the energy rather than conjuring up the energy to act joyful. I try not to eat spicy food right before the show. At the same time, I have to make sure I am eating enough calories throughout the day, because I burn through so many during the show!

Is this your favorite role thus far? Explain.

I would have to say it is a tie between playing Monty in GGLAM and Huey in MEMPHIS. Both require an incredible amount of energy, but they are both extremely fun and rewarding at the end of the night. With Huey, you feel you have changed every other character in the show. You show how a quirky and broken man can still bring about good in the world. With Monty, you get to transform from a timid young man to a confident gentleman killer all the while getting the audience to root for you and hopefully have an evening of pure fun and joy. Both roles have an incredible journey for different reasons. Thank you to the writers for creating such interesting characters!

What is your personal feeling about what this show has to say? Do you laugh when you think about it? Or do you just not think about it so much?

I think the show is one of the best nights an audience will have in a theater to date. It's not a show that makes you contemplate life for days afterwards. It is, rather, pure joy and glee. But they are not empty calorie laughs...these are hearty, give you better abs laughs!

Do you have a favorite victim in one of the characters that John (Rapson) plays? If so, why this choice?

I think Henry is one of my favorites. I actually get to spend a lot of time getting to know him. While he still looks down on peasants, he is actually a pretty likable guy in some ways. Plus, John and I have fun with those scenes in particular.

Talk a little about some of your other roles like Tarzan and the character in Memphis. Tarzan is another very physical role; these seem to attract you.

I was actually having that realization just recently. I never had any previous training in movement before I got those roles, but I have come to love the process of getting into the physicality of the character. We used to spend hours in front of the mirror in Tarzan rehearsals, figuring out how each figure or elbow articulates with certain moves. In Little House on the Prairie, I had to create an entire horse race with my body and a set of reins. My quads grew tens sizes! It was great to apply this to GGLAM where the movement is so specific and timing is imperative to the comedy. I also love how Monty's movements change as he gains more confidence as a man, and lover....and a killer.

What about Little House on the Prairie? How was it to work on? Is there any chance they may bring that back?

Little House will forever be a highlight in my life, primarily because it brought my wife into my life. It was really a magical time in a lot of ways, and we made many lifelong friends. I have no idea what the future holds for Little House. I know the producers and writers have been working on it since the tour who knows!

Who is your all-time favorite composer? Why? Musical (not necessarily one that you did)?

I don't have one favorite...I have many and the list continues to grow. I love everything from more established composers like Bernstein, Sondheim, Lippa, to up and coming writers like Jonathan Reid Gealt, Kooman & Diamond, and Matthew Lee Robinson.

Are musicals more difficult to carry off that straight plays? In what way?

I think every piece is unique and couldn't offer a blanket answer. Generally, the more pieces to a work (instruments, actors, sets moving, effects), the longer it takes to put together. But sometimes a one hander in a black box can take just as much work to make it a good piece.

GGLAM plays at the Ahmanson until May 1. For tix and info:

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From This Author Don Grigware

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