BWW Interview: Funnyman Drew Droege on HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOUG and Inviting New Yorkers to This Unforgettable Party!
Actor, comedian, writer, and director, Drew Droege, treats New York audiences to his new solo show, Happy Birthday Doug. Joining forces once again with producers Michael Urie and Zach Laks, and director Tom Detrinis, the show is centered on Doug turning 41 and celebrating in a big way! His party includes multiple personalities and visits from friends and influential characters that have impacted this crazy little thing called life. And the best part? You get to be part of the action!
BroadwayWorld had the chance to chat with Droege about the guests coming to Doug's birthday party and what he aims to explore during the show; how birthdays make human beings naturally take stock; and the importance of our friendships.
Tell me a little more about the guests coming out for Doug's birthday.
I'll first give you an idea of how I approached birthdays. Years ago, I would invite so many people to my birthday party and it would become too many people. It became so hard to interact with everyone and spend time with those I'm closest with. In the show, Doug is turning 41, and for me, thinking back to when I turned 40, it was an awesome experience and didn't produce anxiety. It made me reflect a lot on quality v. quantity and prioritizing the people who matter, as I created the characters.
I also wanted to explore modern gay culture and wanted to specifically have gay men represented. We're each other's best friends and worst enemies. We have our neurotic moments, as well as insecure ones, with no shortage of fun times! It's those friendships that matter and I wanted to focus on that and incorporate all ages - from early twenties to 40's and beyond - and illustrate how each stage impacts the journey of life.
What do you think it is about birthdays that makes us want to pause and take stock?
With birthdays, so much of the focus is on you and causes us to check-in with our own mortality. We think about what we have or haven't achieved and what our goals are. Taking stock brings up a lot emotionally, as others are so interested in how old we are and what the expectations are of that age and what we should have learned by now. It can trigger comparison and judgement, which is something everyone experiences as they get older.
You transition between multiple characters and personalities. What is your process for keeping your energy up, during this hilarious hour?
I usually write from the character's perspective first, then work on performing and tweaking the material, and tend to put the high energy at the top.
It's much easier to have an audience with me and play off of the collective energy, as opposed to being in rehearsal by yourself. Once I feel comfortable, it's a lot of fun to discover new parts of the characters and be surprised as I get on stage each night.
What do you hope New York audiences will take away?
Living in LA and doing the show there, it's exciting to come to NY and experience the different reactions audiences have. Audiences here like to take some time to figure out who I am and what they want to make of the characters. It's certainly a lot fairer and makes me look at parts of the show in new ways, apart from what audiences in LA are used to, with some of the material and references to the entertainment industry. It's exhilarating!
Right on! Anything else you want to add about the run?
We'll be in town performing through March 1st and love to discover how our audiences are drawing conclusions, in terms of how they feel about the characters - it's really their experience. Come join our party!
Performances for Drew Droege's Happy Birthday Doug began on February 6th at SoHo Playhouse and is scheduled to run though March 1st. For more, visit: https://www.sohoplayhouse.com/soho-playhouse-events/hbd-4f4gz