BWW Interview: Seven Questions with Colton Ryan of WEST SIDE STORY at The Lexington Theatre Company
Rising Broadway star, Colton Ryan is returning to his roots this weekend as he opens West Side Story with The Lexington Theatre Company in his home city of Lexington, Kentucky.
Ahead of it's run, he was kind enough to answer a few questions about the show, the impact it has had and still has, as well as his own career thus far and his hopes for the future.
You're no stranger to the Lexington Opera House, and more specifically The Lexington Theatre Company. Other than the high quality work they present, what brings you back to continue collaborating with them?
Many things, but most of all that I'm in total support of what their mission is all about. They are satiating a need for greater art in Lexington and educating young people at the same time. Those are two things that I'm red-hot over. And being with the rest of the ensemble (which is a blend of professional, collegiate, and local artists) is the most awesome part of the experience. They are here to learn and it makes me want to as well. Also, Lexington is my home and I'm always very proud to come back. The more involved they will let me be, I'm there.
You recently finished your run of Alice By Heart at MCC Off-Broadway. That show featured absolutely brilliant and beautiful music from Duncan Sheik, while West Side Story boasts a classic score by Leonard Bernstein. What has it been like switching gears musically between two polar opposite genres?
I think the thing that excites me the most about singing both of those is that they inform each other, and me, more than you'd think. It's definitely easy to sort of impersonate a sound or idea with an older show like this. But the music will live on with or without my voice on it. So it's really freeing to try to take what's there and be as honest about how I would sing it authentically without some preconceived notion, like we were free to do with Alice. DUNCAN AND STEVEN ARE THE NEW BERNSTEIN AND SONDHEIM, I've said it.
Anyone who had even a slight love musical theatre knows that that West Side Story and it's characters are iconic. With so many different productions happening all the time what makes this production, and you're portrayal of Tony special and unique?
I think West Side Story is perfect and many incredible people have done it. I can't have been the first person to have thoughts I'm having about the show, which makes it easy to just try to be as honest about it as possible. And the ensemble is so fresh that it makes being honest a lot easier.
What so far has been your favorite part of the rehearsal process for the show?
I've just loved being at home. It's way more emotional than I imagined. I'm just kinda crying a little bit a lot of the time. When we came to the Opera House for tech, it was weird being in the same spots on stage that I had been in high school. OH NO I'M CRYING AGAIN
If you could play any other character in the show, who would it be and why?
Anita. No one holds a candle.
Do you have any dream roles or dream shows? You've been heavily involved in new works as of late, is there any pre-existing show you would say is at the top of your list to be a part of?
I would love to do Floyd Collins. It's a Kentucky story. And I would kill to do Hunchback. I'M MANIFESTING IN THIS ARTICLE!
It's no secret that times aren't the best right now in America for any number of reasons depending on who you ask. Do you feel like there's a cultural relevance to West Side Story? Why do you think it's important for people to be seeing it in this day and age?
I think if people still come and revisit West Side and DON'T see modern America, then they aren't really hearing it. It's terrible how universal the show still is. I think a lot of it pings truer now than ever before. It should be scary. The story of America hasn't changed all that much, making things like this and the new Oklahoma so thrilling and terrifying. I think everyone in this show respects and understands that in a really inspiring way.
West Side Story runs July 11 - 14 at the Lexington Opera House. Tickets can be found at ticketmaster.com!
For a first look at the show, check out the video below!