BWW Interview: Bill Dawes in NUREYEVS EYES at GSP
Nureyev's Eyes, a new play by David Rush, will be on the George Street Playhouse stage from February 2nd through February 21st. Directed by Michael Mastro, this two-hander stars Will Connell and Bill Dawes. In the show, American painter Jamie Wyeth and Russian ballet star Rudolf Nureyev fight each other and their own personal demons over the course of a 15 year friendship; a friendship that transcends their differences and lasts until the end of Nureyev's storied ballet career and all too-short life. Struggling to capture the icon on paper and canvas, Wyeth is not satisfied with his work until a breakthrough provides new inspiration, opening his eyes to what is right in front of him. Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Dawes, the actor who portrays Rudolf Nureyev in the show.
Bill Dawes is a three-time Broadway veteran, most recently appearing as Mickey Mantle in Bronx Bombers. He has appeared in a dozen off-Broadway productions, and many more at esteemed regional theatres like Williamstown, Ford's Theatre and Dallas Theatre Center. Television credits include Law & Order, Criminal Minds, Damages, The Following, Royal Pains, Sex and the City, and many more. As a comic, Bill has performed in 14 countries, including tours of Iraq and Afghanistan with the USO.
Now a resident of New York City, Dawes was born and raised in Northern Virginia, where he was educated in the public school system. He then attended Princeton University and graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. It was during these undergraduate years that he became interested in theatre, when his older brother suggested that he take an acting class as a freshman to meet girls. Dawes soon realized that an acting career was actually a possibility. He continued his studies at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where he obtained his MFA.
We asked Dawes about mentors in the business. "When I was in grad school, getting kind of burnt out on technique and Shakespeare, the late actor Chris Evan Welch recommended I audition for "Hot Keys," a late-night serial soap opera created by Jeff Weiss and Ricardo Martinez. I did and it changed my perspective. Jeff inspired me and taught me that acting was really just "climbing to the top of a mountain and jumping off without a parachute."
Dawes told us a little about the challenges of playing Rudolf Nureyev in Nureyev's Eyes. "I recently played Mickey Mantle in Bronx Bombers and bulked up to almost 210 pounds. Nureyev is a very different physical role. He is svelte and lithe. It's a journey to even begin to feel like that body type."
Dawes also did a good deal of research for the role by watching footage of Nureyev's work. "Nureyev was an artist who leaves behind a huge legacy. It's intimidating."
Dawes commented that two-handers are interesting to do. "They have great potential for conflict. Someone needs to communicate with someone who often has a diametrically opposed point of view, and yet, for whatever reason, they are unable to leave each other. Anyone in a relationship or family or marriage can relate to that, I think. Ultimately, Nureyev's Eyes is a play that examines the nature of love and passion, and how it manifests itself in art."
This is the first time that Dawes has worked at GSP. "It's an incredibly supportive atmosphere. Creative ideas are nurtured from inception to completion. It's how theatre is supposed to be done."
Dawes also has a fascinating element in his career as a stand-up comic. We are impressed that he shares his humor with American servicemen. Having performed for the troops overseas in 2009 in Baghdad, he performed at a total of 15 Marine bases in the United States in 2014 and 2015 with his hilarious brand of not altogether PC comedy. Locals to George Street might be able to catch him at Vinnie Brand's "Stress Factory" comedy club just blocks from the theatre during the run.
Nureyev's Eyes will be performed at the George Street Playhouse from February 2nd through February 21st. The theatre is located at 9 Livingston Avenue in the heart of New Brunswick's vibrant arts district. For more information and to purchase tickets call the Box Office at 732.246.7717 or visit their website at http://www.georgestreetplayhouse.org.Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bill Dawes