BWW Interview: My Dance Selfie with Josh Walden of Off-Broadway's CAGNEY

Josh Walden is a seasoned Broadway hoofer. He's sung and danced in the revivals of 42nd Street, A Chorus Line, La Cage aux Folles and Ragtime. But it's in the new Off-Broadway musical Cagney where Walden gets to really show off his versatility and range. He changes characters and costumes faster than he taps out a syncopated rhythm-and he even executes that flawlessly. He's part of Cagney's expert six-member cast in this musical biography of Hollywood tough guy and dance man James Cagney.

I had the opportunity to speak with Josh prior to catching his dynamic performance in the show. Hear what he has to say as he talks all things tap, teachers, and tattoos.

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The greatest thing about performing in CAGNEY:

Is the opportunity I am given to play ten different characters throughout the course of the show. One minute I'm a tough goon having a full out fist fight with James Cagney over greatly reduced labor wages and the next I'm tap dancing next to him as his brother Bill in a spectacular USO show. I respect acting so much and to have a show in which I can flex my muscles and sink my teeth into so many unique and varied characters, all within a world of heightened truth, is pure heaven.

What's unique about working with this cast:

I absolutely cherish my time on stage with the other five actors in Cagney. It's not just because each and every one is insanely talented. It's because they all listen. And that's rare and a gift I do not take for granted. I have such trust in them. I know that when I enter the stage, they will all be fully engaged, present scene partners available to breathe with me.

Josh Walden, Ellen Zolezzi and Jeremy Benton in Cagney.
Photo: Carol Rosegg

Who I credit for my tap dancing skills:

As for my tap training, Charles Goddertz gave me my technique, Marcia Milgrom Dodge gave me my finesse and Kelli Barclay gave me my style. But, the greatest inspiration would have to be my mother. She gave me my passion.

Getting my BFA in Drama at NYU was the right choice for me:

I would not be where I am today if I hadn't gone there. It was there that I met all my mentors whom I still seek for guidance. See, I had nothing when I got to NYU. No training. Everything was so raw but I had passion. Lots of passion. And I will be forever grateful for all my teachers who took that passion and turned it into the foundation that has shaped my whole career.

Josh in "The Boy from Oz" at Theatre Memphis.

Performer who sparked my interest in musical theater:

Gene Kelly! Gene Kelly! Gene Kelly! My mom introduced me to him at a very early age and my obsession has yet to stop. I want to be him, I want to dance like him, and I want to posses his exceptional ability to tell stories through dance. And since I'm a child of the 80's, Cats and Xanadu greatly influenced my decision to pursue musical theater.

How I feel about my tattoos:

I LOVE my tattoos! And I don't regret any of them. As I get each one, I feel more and more complete. People suggested they might hurt my career, but I never once felt that. I was never someone who stopped living life just to ensure my success within musical theater. Besides, I design each tattoo myself. I feel like a walking piece of art.

I had very supportive parents:

At the age of nine, I told my parents I wanted to be a "silver screen actor" and they immediately found me a children's theater program at the local college. And their support has never wavered. From children's theater to Broadway, they never once made me feel that there wasn't anything I couldn't achieve.

Josh as Mercedes in La Cage Aux Folles.

The best part of being in the revival of La Cage aux Folles:

La Cage aux Folles was the most glamorous time of my LIFE! It was my first experience being a part of a Broadway show right from the beginning. I was having costumes designed just for me by William Ivey Long. And I was helping create a new generation of gender bending cagelles. To be a member of that extremely talented ensemble will go down as one of the greatest highlights of my career.

On my bucket list:

So, this summer I'm going to complete an item on my bucket list. I'm turning 40 this summer and I promised my dad I would skydive with him. He's been jumping out of planes for as long as I can remember and always wanted his kids to join him. I picked 40 as the age when I would be ready thinking it wouldn't be for a very long time. Well, it's here and I am a man of my word.

I wish I could tell my younger self to:

You know what? I wouldn't tell my younger self anything. I am so proud of who I am today. To warn my younger self or give advice would deny me the knowledge I would gain going through each and every experience that has formed the person I have come to love so deeply. And I can't wait for what life has yet to throw at me.

A Josh Walden "selfie" backstage at Cagney.

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You can catch Josh in CAGNEY at the Westside Theatre in New York City. For more information and to purchase tickets:Telecharge

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