BWW Q&A: John-Andrew Morrison of A STRANGE LOOP at American Conservatory Theater

Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, Michael R. Jackson's Pulitzer Prize–winning, blisteringly funny masterwork exposes the heart and soul of a young artist.

By: Mar. 26, 2024
BWW Q&A: John-Andrew Morrison of A STRANGE LOOP at American Conservatory Theater
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Meet Usher: a Black, queer writer writing a musical about a Black, queer writer writing a musical about a Black, queer writer. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, Michael R. Jackson's Pulitzer Prize–winning, blisteringly funny masterwork exposes the heart and soul of a young artist grappling with desires, identity, and instincts he both loves and loathes. Hell-bent on breaking free of his own self-perception, Usher wrestles with the thoughts in his head, brought to life on stage by a hilarious, straight-shooting ensemble. Direct from Broadway and the West End to San Francisco, A Strange Loop is the big, Black, and queer-ass Great American Musical for all!

A Strange Loop will perform at A.C.T.'s Toni Rembe Theater (415 Geary St., San Francisco) April 18–May 12, 2024. Press night for A Strange Loop will be held on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. Tickets are currently guaranteed for 2023/24 season subscribers. Single tickets will be available at a later date.

A Strange Loop features book, music, and lyrics by Michael R. Jackson. Members of the show's Broadway creative team, including Tony Award nominated director Stephen Brackett and choreographer Raja Feather Kelly, will join the San Francisco engagement.

A Strange Loop made its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in May 2019. In December 2021, the show had a critically acclaimed run at Washington D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company prior to coming to Broadway in spring 2022. A Strange Loop won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was the recipient of 11 Tony Award nominations, the most of any show in 2022. The production took home the Tony Award for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical. A Strange Loop was also named Best Musical by New York Drama Critics' Circle, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, and Off-Broadway Alliance.

John-Andrew Morrison is a Tony Award nominee and a Lucille Lortel and Obie Award winner for his work in A Strange Loop (Broadway and Off Broadway).

He is an Outer Critics Circle Honoree for his work in the Off Broadway premiere of Blues For An Alabama Sky. Morrison is a cabaret artists headlining venues like 54 Below and The Green Room 42. He will be presenting his show No...Maybe...Why Not at Feinstein's at The Nikko on April 29th at 7:30pm.

How does it feel to be returning to this incredible musical after having done the show both off-Broadway and on Broadway?

Sorry for this but it feels kind of like a strange loop. Really. I felt like I had put the show to bed after Broadway. It was a full and complete experience and I was proud of what we accomplished and so grateful for all that I received from being a part of this amazing show.

A Broadway debut and a TONY Nomination was the cherry on top of this long journey with the show. When I had a conversation with Stephen about coming back I really had to take a minute and think about it. Was I ready to step back in? Could I do this again? I had to sit with it for a minute. But then I thought about the audiences we had. What the show meant to so many people. Audiences got so much from the show and I got excited about sharing it with more people. I was walking around The Castro last week on my way to get a haircut and this young man came running up to me, so excited. He had seen the show twice in New York and was thrilled he would get to see it again. I got to the barber shop and my new San Francisco barber Carlos, went, "Oh I have tickets for your show. I'm so excited to see it. I heard so much about it. I'm so glad it's happening here." I can't wait to take new audiences on the ride that is A Strange Loop. I'm truly proud of this show and let me tell you something, my haircut was fantastic. I looked fierce. Thanks Carlos.

You're the only cast member who's done the show previously - what has it been like staging the show with a group for whom all of this is new?

First thing first I gotta give this company their props. We got thrown in to the deep end with this process and, man, they are fierce and fantastic and stepping up to the challenge of this show brilliantly. I'm excited to see the world of the show expand and grow and be a part of that. I have to resist going oh we did it like this. I have been lovingly teased by this company for it. They're a sassy bunch. But truly we are making a new experience with this group. It has been amazing to see this company bring themselves to it. To see how they relate so deeply and personally to the material. Michael's work is specific and honest and so it allows for everyone in this cast to personalize the material and it has been wild to hear the new choices that are coming from their lived experiences. It has been a joyous room. We're all excited to thrill our west coast audiences.

While you're in San Francisco you're also doing your own Cabaret at Feinstein's at The Nikko. What has it been like creating that show and juggling the process with opening A Strange Loop?

Yes and I can't wait. I'm presenting a version of my cabaret show No..Maybe. Why Not. I created this one with my music director Drew Wutke and he will be coming to San Fransisco to play the show. The show is really special and I am proud of what we have made. It is a dubious sideways kind of look at this thing we call love and what comes along with that. We have a heartfelt, funny, joyous evening planned. I can't wait to take San Francisco on this ride. You know at the end of the day I am Jamaican, if I'm not working on 15 things at once, am I doing anything? I'm excited for people to come and see Strange Loop in that big beautiful theater we get to be in and then come and share an intimate experience with me in the beautiful room at Feinstein's at The Nikko.

What can audiences expect from No...Maybe...Why Not at Feinstein's at The Nikko? Can you give us a tease of the set list?

Well I'll be there. So there's that. Wouldn't it be wild to have someone play me in my cabaret? Who would I cast? hmm. I think one of the surprises was finding out I'm a secret Swifty. You could have never told me that I would have not one but two Taylor Swift songs in my show. Swift, Sondheim, Sinatra with a Sam Smith and Michael John LaChiusa chaser and so much more. So just come and sit and enjoy. I promise the show won't hurt. If any of your readers have ideas for casting me in my cabaret I'd be so curious to hear. I'm stumped.

Aside from new people... is there anything different about this production of A Strange Loop you didn't expect from the ones you've done previously?

New city, new locale, a whole entire new energy. Different views, a new commute. There's a lot of new things around it. I guess the thing that I didn't expect was being surprised by the show all over again. You know you work on it for a while and you do productions, you kinda think oh I know it but with new people things hit you differently. I'm in a new relationship with the show in a way and that has been really cool. I'm a different person and so it has been wonderful to meet the show again and meet myself in it a new.

After your run in San Francisco, you're also taking the show to Los Angeles. Is there anything you're really excited to get to do in either city?

Oh yes. As touristy as it may be, I can't wait to ride in a trolly car. I have friends in both cities that I don't get to see very often and I'm excited to see them all and share the show with them. I've been walking all over San Francisco so far and I do love it. I got to go dancing at El Rio and have plans to go see some drag shows. I've hung out at Dolores Park and I want to go have another day off there hanging with friends. I was joking with my sister that when I get to LA I must go hike a canyon. I feel like I see my LA friends Instagrams filled with them in some canyon or other but you know a lite canyon and I'm not trying to feature some extensive hard canyon. Easy slope and sunset at a beach somewhere. I love the beach so I'll probably be there every day off.

Why must audiences come and see A Strange Loop?

So here's the the deal... not only did A Strange Loop win The TONY Award but it is one of only 10 musicals to win The Pulitzer Prize. The show is honest and specific and so it really becomes universal. Even though it is about a young overweight black gay man, this character becomes a kind of cipher for people and their experiences with their own humanity. Everyone at some point in time has had a negative self talk moment, everyone has had a moment where they don't want to disappoint their parents, everyone has had a moment of doubt about something they want to create and on and on. The show has this amazing ability to really challenge an audience while also giving them a great funny, tuneful show. I think it's a pretty singular experience and audiences are going to have a brilliant time. I can't wait to see you at A Strange Loop.