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Interview: Chatting with Blake McIver Ewing on Musical Theatre, Performing and More!

Blake is a former child star best known for his appearances on Full House and in the film adaptation of The Little Rascals.

Interview: Chatting with Blake McIver Ewing on Musical Theatre, Performing and More! Recovering Child Co-Star from Full House, The Little Rascals, Hey Arnold, Recess, Ragtime the Musical and more! Recently seen on BRAVO's The People's Couch and the series finale of Fuller House! He is also a vocal coach and podcaster!

We chat with Blake on his musical theatre experience!

How does it feel to have audiences and live theatre back?

Live theatre professionals are some of the most resilient and strong people on the planet but the past couple of years have really tested the limits of that strength. For me it feels like a part of me can breathe again. The theatre is such a sacred space; a communion of energy and gifts from the stage to the audience. To have gone without that for so long was creatively debilitating in many ways.

How have you been handling the pandemic as an artist?

Like so many performers, I turned all my focus on what could be done under the given circumstances. Stopping was not an option for me so my partner Emerson Collins and I produced a series of livestream shows. We did about one a month for the duration of the lockdown.

What inspired you to pursue a career in performing?

From the time I can remember I always wanted to be onstage. My mom is probably my biggest inspiration that kickstarted my desire to perform. She started in show business as one of Dean Martin's Golddiggers on his Variety TV show in the late 60's and then had a big career in film and TV throughout the 70's and 80's until she got pregnant with me.

What was the first professional musical you saw?

When I was 6 I saw the first LA sit down production of "The Phantom of the Opera" with Michael Crawford and Dale Krisien. It was completely life changing. I was so transfixed and I immediately wanted to know how every aspect of a big Broadway show was made. Because of Phantom I discovered all the other work of Hal Prince and he became such a directorial model for me throughout my career.

Who were your musical influences?

Oh gosh, I have so many! How much time do we have, haha. Well, because of my mom's work and career I think I heard the Rat Pack before anyone else (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr.) and after that it was a lot of early R&B and Motown (Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Martha & the Vandellas) and The Beatles. Barbra Streisand was a big vocal inspiration, especially her 70s records that almost had a musical theatre / funk crossover. Because I was a kid in the early 90s my early theatre influences were the big British spectacle shows like Phantom, Les Mis, & Miss Saigon but then my musical theatre mentor, the late and brilliant composer Glen Roven, gave me a CD of the OBCR of Company and that was another life changing moment. I'll never forget the seat of the plane I was on when I clicked my discman closed (I'm aging myself) and heard a Sondheim score for the first time. It was revelatory!

What is your favorite role you've played?

I have two favorites. I got to be the first Edgar (The Little Boy) in the US Premiere production of Ragtime and ran in the show for a year. It was the most educational, fulfilling, and exciting thing I've ever done with the most exceptional company of artists anyone could dream of. Telling that story 8 times a week was truly a gift. It never felt like work. Secondly, a few years back I got to play Freddie in Chess and it was one of the most challenging and validating roles I've ever gotten to take on.

What is your favorite musical?

How can I pick?? Ahhh. This is too hard. I'll break this question down. My favorite musical score of all time is Jesus Christ Superstar. I think it is a perfect piece of music and lyrics from start to finish. If I had to pick only one musical that I could go see every night for the rest of my life it would be The Color Purple. I think it's pretty perfect and I'm so thrilled that they are adapting the musical version into a new film.

What is your favorite musical song?

Another IMPOSSIBLE question, haha! I have so many. Let me go by eras. From early musical theatre: "Can't Help Lovin That Man" from Show Boat. From Mid Century Broadway it's a tie: "If Ever I Would Leave You" from Camelot and "Music That Makes Me Dance" from Funny Girl. From the post-modern era: "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd. And finally from the contemporary-ish period I'd have to go with "My Strongest Suit" from AIDA and "Waiting For Life" from Once On This Island. How's that for eclectic taste, haha!

What is your favorite musical song to sing?

I've performed a lot of the songs I listed in the previous question but I think my favorite musical song to sing is "Nobody's Side" from Chess. It's such a cathartic melody and lyric to phonate.

Do you have another role that you hope to play?

I desperately want to play Quasimodo in the musical adaptation of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." I think it's the best thing that Disney Theatricals has done and it needs to go to Broadway.

When you perform, what do you hope your audience takes away from you?

This is a tricky one because I guess it depends entirely on what they're watching me in. I've played a lot of villains in my life, haha. But if I had to generalize I would hope that as a performer I'm always able to create a visceral experience for an audience; a feeling or emotion that has a tangibility to it because they can either relate or be challenged in some way. I believe that in those specific moments of energetic exchange, our art is truly divine. This is why I love the theatre so much. We get to do that every night for a new group of people.

Thank you Blake so much for you time! We look forward to seeing what you do next!

Photo Curtis Brown Photography

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