THE FRIDAY FIVE (on Thursday!): THE 39 STEPS' Josh Bernaski
Inspired by BroadwayWorld.com's Friday Six, welcome to BroadwayWorld Nashville's latest installment of The Friday Five (on Thursday): five questions (well, actually, six) designed to help you learn more about the talented people you'll find onstage throughout the Volunteer state. Today, we introduce you to Josh Bernaski, currently onstage in The 39 Steps at Clarksville's Roxy Regional Theatre.
The consummate journeyman actor, Josh's career has taken him all around the world (well, almost!) but for a while at least, his Tennessee fans can revel in his immense talents while enjoying one of the theater's most entertaining works (which seems tailor-made for his abilities)...
What was your first "live onstage" taste of theater? My parents took us to see theater all the time as kids, but I was rather shy all throughout elementary school. I would never sit on an aisle seat, out of fear of being pulled onstage. I was a big fan of the Peanuts cartoons however, and so when my friends in middle school were auditioning for You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, I found the courage to audition. I was ecstatic to be one of the 60 students cast in the (typically seven-person) show and played Shermy, a character our director added in from the cartoons, who liked sharing his Sno-Cones with Snoopy. I loved bringing my favorite cartoon to life on stage, and discovered my lifelong passion that year.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I usually use my time before the show to warm up, chug some coffee, and catch up with the cast and crew. I also like to run the most challenging aspects of the show. While at Nashville Children's Theatre for Go Dog, Go! I would roller skate (and fall) around the stage for about 20 minutes before each performance, rehearsing the first scene of the show when the skates would magically appear on my feet. Right now, before each performance of The 39 Steps at the Roxy, the other Clown and I run our most challenging scene - a fun and tricky train sequence where, between the two of us, we become six different characters in the course of one minute.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? A few years ago at the Roxy Regional Theatre, we had a full house for Happy Days. Just before the show began, a storm caused the power to go out on most of downtown Clarksville, leaving the theater completely in the dark. The staff thought fast, and came up with an incredible back-up plan. We brought back our cabaret set-list from the week before, rolled out the old piano from backstage, and lined the stage with as many candles as we could find. The amazing high-school interns sat in the front row, each holding flashlights to act as our spotlights. There in a candle-lit, packed house, we pulled together an amazing, unexpected night of music. I walked home that night so proud of the everyone at the Roxy and what we pulled together in less than an hour. It was a true testament to the magic the Roxy creates on that stage each and every night.
What's your dream role? For a long time now, Timon in The Lion King has been my dream role. Singing "Hakuna Matata" every day and cracking jokes with a giant meerkat puppet...I mean that just sounds like heaven to me.
Who's your theatrical crush? Tina Fey. (Even though she's not a Broadway actress, she has a theater and improv background!) I watch 30 Rock episodes almost every day with my roommates in Chicago, and her absurd sense of comedy cracks me up. Her crush status increased exponentially for me though when she starred in Muppets Most Wanted. She sang and danced with Kermit the Frog in a ridiculous Russian accent! If that doesn't make her a triple threat, I don't know what does! If she ever shows up on Broadway, I will be there in an instant.
BONUS: Tell me something about yourself that would surprise people I'm a secret roller coaster junkie. When I was a kid, my favorite book was an Amusement Park Encyclopedia and I would memorize the specs of every top roller coaster in the world. When the Discovery Channel would broadcast the Top 10 coasters special, I would record it and watch the VHS all year long. Today, I still check out my favorite roller coaster rumor websites each and every morning. In fact, one of my favorite birthday celebrations was a surprise visit up to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, to ride some of the best wooden roller coasters in the county.