Stuart Ward talks about touring with Broadway hit play “Once”

Stuart Ward is currently touring North America with the touring company of the hit Broadway show “Once”. Stuart is no stranger to the show “Once” as he was in fact the understudy for the role of “Guy” in the West End production of the show. Media Mikes got a chance to chat with Stuart about “Once” and him role during their stop in Philly in their 29 city tour which runs until October 2014.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you come on board with “Once” for its North American tour?
Stuart Ward: I actually was a part of the London cast of the show. I was a cover for the role of Guy. I missed out on the casting since I was on another job in Australia touring with the singer Cliff Richard. No one knows him in the US but in England he is a bit of a rock pop legend. 73 years old and he is still rocking out! So I was in Australia playing the Syndey Opera House and other great venues with him, so when I got back the show was all cast. I got a call asking if I would be interested in the understudy part and to be quite honest I really wasn’t. But they kept asking and I thought even if I get to do think just once – [laughs] there you go “Once” – it would be worth it and I would be happy. So I took it and then the day after I went on for the very first time, I got a call asking if I would be interested to play the lead in the US tour. My jaw hit the ground and I screamed a resounding “Yes”!

MG: So you are currently in Philly, tell us how the tour has been going so far?
SW: It is going great. We are just kind of settling down now. To be honest, when we were in Providence we were still working on the show and cleaning it up a bit. Then we got to Chicago and we were filming b-roll and doing recordings, so it was busy. So now in Philly it is settling down. I have had some time to explore the city and I ran up the Rocky steps [laughs]. The video is actually on my Twitter. I couldn’t help myself [laughs].

MG: What are some of the other cities that you are looking forward to hitting?
SW: I was actually looking forward to visiting Chicago. When we got there it didn’t let down at all. It had such an incredible vibe about the place. It was a bit like New York but a bit more laid back and chill. I am looking forward San Francisco as well, since it has a similar laid back vibe. I am looking forward to Florida since my mom and dad are coming down for that. I miss them hugely, so I am looking forward to getting them down. Honestly though, I am excited for all of them since I have never been to these cities before in America. So I am taking it a city at a time and having a blast!

MG: What do you use for inspiration to get you into the role each night?
SW: There is a remarkable amount of similarities between me and the character, so it doesn’t really take that much. Sometimes when you are playing a role, I think it is important to bring a part of yourself to it otherwise you are just lying. You have to have some truth in there. Usually it is 30% you and 70% your character that you built. But for this role it is actually like 90% is already there for me. I am a songwriter myself and I can relate to this character. I feel like I am actually playing my own songs out there. They all sit perfectly in my voice. It is quite easy for me to get into it.

MG: Tell us about the chemistry you have with co-star Dani de Waal?
SW: It is massive. I was so worried when I came over here because I didn’t meet her until the first day of rehearsals. I thought that 98% of my stage time is with this girl and I was thinking “God, what if she is terrible?” [laughs] I have been so lucky because she is really wonderful. She has this fantastic quality about her that fits the role of Girl so well. It is like a non-descriptive energy that is so great to play off. I feel quite blessed to have her as my Girl. It would be a horrible experience if she didn’t have all these amazing qualities but she is just fantastic.

MG: What is your favorite song to perform with the show?
SW: It is torn between two songs but think it has to be “When Your Minds Made Up”. I just think that that moment is when everything comes together and completes what they have worked for in the play. He just nails it in the studio the first time around. I always feel like he has that performance in his mind for three or four years and he is just waiting to be unleashed. I just love that moment. Not just performing that song, even when watching it, I just love the moment when he has become a songwriter – a rock star if you like.

MG: How has the show changed for you having watched it and now being the lead of it?
SW: What is great about this show and the whole creative team, is that they never wanted a copy of what has been done before. I have never had this happen before when going into a role that someone else has done. Usually you stand at the mark, turn right and say your lines. With the creative team here, they didn’t want any of that and they wanted us to make our own production of it. They approached the show like it was never done before. Half of the blocking is different and all the costumes are different. So the bare-bones of the show is the same but it is our completely own version. You will notice the differences when you come see it and if have seen the show before.

Here is the rest of the tour schedule! Check it out when it comes to a city near you!

Cleveland, OH (Playhouse Square)
Nov. 12 – 24, 2013

Toronto, ON (Royal Alexandra Theatre)
Nov. 26, 2013 – Jan. 5, 2014

Boston, MA (Boston Opera House)
Jan. 7 – 19, 2014

Durham, NC (Durham Performing Arts Center)
Jan. 21 – 26, 2014

Orlando, FL (Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre)
Jan. 28 – Feb. 2, 2014

Miami, FL (The Adrienne Arsht Center)
Feb. 4 – 9, 2014

Tampa, FL (Straz Center)
Feb. 11 – 16, 201

Fort Myers, FL (Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall)
Feb. 18 – 23, 2014

New Haven, CT (Shubert Theater)
Feb. 26 – March 2, 2014

Atlanta, GA (Fox Theatre)
March 4 – 9, 2014

Pittsburgh, PA (Benedum Center)
March 11 – 16, 2014

Rochester, NY (Auditorium Theatre)
March 18 – 23, 2014

Buffalo, NY (Shea’s Performing Arts Center)
March 25 – 30, 2014

Minneapolis, MN (Orpheum Theatre)
April 1 – 6, 2014

St. Louis, MO (The Fox Theatre)
April 8 – 20, 2014

Des Moines, IA (Civic Center of Greater Des Moines)
April 22 – 27, 2014

Tempe, AZ (ASU Gammage)
April 29 – May 4, 2014

Denver, CO (Buell Theatre)
May 6 – 18, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (Smith Center for the Performing Arts)
May 20 – 25, 2014

Seattle, WA (The Paramount Theatre)
May 27 – June 8, 2014

Portland, OR (Keller Auditorium)
June 10 – 15, 2014

San Francisco, CA (Curran Theatre)
June 17 – July 13, 2014

Los Angeles, CA (Pantages Theatre)
July 15 – Aug. 10, 2014

San Diego, CA (Civic Center)
Aug. 12 – 17, 2014

Costa Mesa, CA (Segerstrom Hall)
Aug. 19 – 31, 2014

Charlotte, NC (Blumenthal Performing Arts Center)
Sept. 30 – Oct. 5, 2014

Stuart Gordon talks about turning hit play “Nevermore” into a film with Jeffrey Combs

Stuart Gordon has directed and be behind some of my favorite horror films to date including “Re-Animator”. He teamed up with “Re-Animator” star Jeffrey Combs in 2009 for a stage play called “Nevermore”, which focused on a night with Edgar Allen Poe. The show was only suppose to run for a month but ended up become a huge hit and held over many times and even toured. Gordon and Combs are now trying to get the play turned into a feature film…with the help of YOU! They have started a Kickstarter campaign, which will end on November 1st, 2013. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Stuart about this campaign and about what we can expect.

Click here to support and back this campaign and tell them that Media Mikes sent you!

Mike Gencarelli: “Nevermore” opened for a one month run in California in 2009, which ended up being extended four times. What made you decide now to make a feature film version of this stage play?
Stuart Gordon: Jeffrey Combs’ performance as Poe has been called “A landmark performance” by the LA Times, and we have toured the show to great acclaim throughout the US bringing it to audiences from Los Angeles to Poe’s gravesite in Baltimore to New York’s Lincoln Center. Filming it will allow it to reach an even larger audience.

MG: Tell us your decision to turn to crowd funding with Kickstarter for this project?
SG: Kickstarter seems the ideal way to fund this project as historical films can be a hard sell at the studios. Even Spielberg had a difficult time finding financing for LINCOLN.

MG: The stage play worked so well since it was Combs captivating the audience solo; how do you plan to expand the scope of the play?
SG: We will be able to show the characters that are referred to in the play beginning with Poe’s shocked fiance’ Sarah Helen Whitman, as well as his doomed young first wife and actress mother. We will also be able to dramatize THE TELL-TALE HEART, THE RAVEN and many of his other poems.

MG: What fascinates you most about Edgar Allan Poe that you want to tell this story?
SG: Poe’s life is even more tragic and disturbing than his macabre stories. NEVERMORE gives us the opportunity to bring this troubled genius to life, warts and all.

MG: As hard as it is to say, in the case you don’t meet your pledge of $375,000 is there a plan B?
SG: There really is no plan B, which is why it is so important that we reach our goal. And with the help of our friends, old and new, we will.

MG: Besides as an incentive on the Kickstarter, do you play to do a wide release of the stage play on DVD?
SG: We have no plans to release the stage play on DVD.

MG: After the film is funded, what is the timeline to get the film to the fans?
SG: We plan on shooting the film next summer with a release in early 2015.

MG: Speaking of the fans, at the time of this question there are over 400 backers; why do you think the horror fans are so loyal to the genre?
SG: There are no fans more loyal than horror fans. God bless them! The more you scare them, the more they love you.