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