BWW Interview: Andrew Kober in UNMASKED: THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER at Paper Mill Playhouse

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BWW Interview: Andrew Kober in UNMASKED: THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER at Paper Mill Playhouse

Paper Mill Playhouse is presenting the world-premiere of Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber from Thursday, January 30 through Sunday, March 1. The show features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and is written by Richard Curtis. It is directed and choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter with musical direction by Sam Davis.

One of the most successful musical theater composers of all time takes audiences behind the scenes in Unmasked, a world-premiere featuring stories and songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber's remarkable life and celebrated work. This funny and warm musical portrait, a concert for the theater, offers an intimate look at Lloyd Webber's five decades in the spotlight and beyond, from his quirky family and bohemian youth in London to the creation of such smash hits as Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and Sunset Boulevard. You'll hear new and sometimes unexpected interpretations of his best-loved songs, rediscovered gems, and some new material specially written for this production. enjoyed the opportunity to interview Andrew Kober who is performing in Unmasked.

Kober most recently appeared in Cinderella at Paper Mill. Other credits include Broadway: Beautiful, School of Rock, Sunday in the Park with George, She Loves Me, Les Misérables, Hair. National Tour: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Off Broadway and regional: Roundabout Theatre Company, The Public Theater, MCC, New York Theatre Workshop, The Old Globe, Yale Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Bucks County Playhouse, Denver Center Theatre, Barrington Stage Company, and four summers at Shakespeare in the Park. TV: Fosse/Verdon(FX Network), Ray Donovan (Showtime), House of Cards (Netflix), Boardwalk Empire (HBO), Blue Bloods (CBS), Pan Am (ABC), and The Plot Against America (HBO).

Tell us when you first knew you were destined for a performance career.

This is a little on-the-nose, but it's totally true: in sixth grade, we took a class trip to Toronto where we saw Sunset Boulevard and Phantom of the Opera. I had the epiphany that those characters that I was so thrilled by were just actors and that this was their job, and that it seemed like the sort of thing I might be good at.

We'd love to know a bit about your education.

I was lucky to go to a public school in Shaker Heights, Ohio with an excellent arts program. I had a lot of performance opportunities in middle and high school. By the summer before my senior year, my guidance counselor suggested I check out the pre-college program at Carnegie Mellon University. At the end of the summer, there's a mock audition, and after that they offered me a spot in their acting program for the following fall. I was thrilled. I finished my senior year, and went off to CMU.

Tell us a little about your personal connections to the Garden State.

Well, I was born in Washington DC and raised in Ohio. But my family are Jersey people. My mother grew up in Jersey City and North Bergen, and now lives in Somerset. My town in Ohio was a lot like Chatham, where I live now, a very warm and welcoming commuter town.

Do you have any particular people who have inspired your work?

Actors like Brooks Ashmanskas, Brian d'Arcy James, and Christopher Sieber have always inspired me. Hilarious, big-voiced, character actors that can be the funny guy or the leading man. I've had the pleasure of working with all of them now, including Chris recently in Cinderella at the Paper Mill, and they're even greater in person that I could have hoped.

We know you were just in Cinderella and now you are right back to work at Paper Mill Playhouse in Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Weber. What makes the Playhouse such a special place to perform?

The people! It's the kindness and neighborliness of a community theater with the talent and production values of a Broadway show. Truly the best of both worlds. I've been chasing a job at the Paper Mill for years, and I'm so glad to be able to work there twice in one season.

The world premiere of Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Weber is an exciting event for musical theatre fans. What would you like audiences to know about the show?

It's everything you're hoping it is, PLUS some surprises. It's easy, with Andrew's vast catalogue of songs, to forget just how many incredible melodies he's written that we all know and love. All the hits are in Unmasked, as well as some songs people may be less familiar with and a couple of world premier songs!

Can you share any of your future plans with our readers?

Not just yet, other than continuing to settling into our new home in New Jersey!

Anything else, absolutely anything you want BWW NJ readers to know.

I hope they love Unmasked!

Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse from Thursday, January 30th through Sunday evening, March 1st. The Playhouse is located at 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ. For ticketing and more information, visit their Box Office or call 973.376.4343.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Andrew Kober

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