CUE & A: International Stage and Screen Star John R. Waters on His Musical Influences, Dream Job and Soccer Obsession

News   CUE & A: International Stage and Screen Star John R. Waters on His Musical Influences, Dream Job and Soccer Obsession
 
John R. Waters, who stars in Lennon: Through a Glass Onion, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
John R. Waters
John R. Waters Photo by Joan Marcus

Waters is one of Australia's most recognized actors and singers. Born in Britain, he has worked in musicals, TV, film and music for four decades.

Some of his best-known works are My Fair Lady, They're Playing Our Song, Oliver!, The Graduate, Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, The Sound of Music and The Addams Family.

He appeared on the Australian children's series "Play School" for 20 years.

Full given name: John Russell Waters
Where you were born/where you were raised: London, UK
Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius
What your parents did/do for a living: My father was Scottish actor Russell Waters, and my mother was an exotic dancer.
Siblings: Older brother and sister; and younger brother and sister. The middle of five lunatics.
Current audition song/monologue: I don't have that kind of thing, but I know I should....I usually sing something rock and roll.
Special skills: I can speak French and play soccer at international level. Ok. I made up the bit about the soccer.
Something you're REALLY bad at: Life. (though I'm trying to get better)
First Broadway/West End show you ever saw: My Fair Lady, at the Drury Lane Theatre in London. I didn't understand a single word.
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? James Brown at the Apollo
Current or recent show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: I blush to disclose that I have no idea what's on at the moment. It's been head down, ass-up workaholism for five weeks. But I'll get there.
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: "Flesh Failures" - from Hair
Some favorite modern musicals: The Addams Family, Spamalot. I liked Jersey Boys - quick and precise story-telling with hot vocals.
Some favorite classic musicals: I think West Side Story is the best of the classics. But having said that, it's all in the production. Any of the classics can be done badly. I think musical theatre is a brilliant art-form - it's just not easy to make it work on all levels.
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would have most loved to perform with: Any of them, but I got intrigued watching the 30s star Ronald Coleman work. I thought his screen acting technique was way ahead of its time.
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead: Ray Charles and Sam Cooke set the template for my kind of singing.
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: I never forget any of them. The good, the bad and the ugly. All filed away. However, I did see the fabulous British actor David Warner doing Hamlet at the Old Vic in the sixties. It was a hip production that our English lit teacher took us to see. The closest I ever came to actually understanding Shakespeare without sweating over it!
Music that makes you cry, any genre: "Scarlet Ribbons" by Harry Belafonte. I can't listen to it with anyone else around, because when that dude peeps into his little girl's room and sees the ribbons lying there "in gay profusion," snot starts pouring out of my nose in a most unattractive manner.
MAC or PC? MAC
Most played song on your iPod: The one I'm learning/working on at the time.
Most-visited websites: BBC Sport Football
Last book you read: "A History of Saxon England"
Must-see TV show(s): English Premier League Football
Last good movie you saw: "As Good as it Gets"
Some films you consider classics: "Dr. Strangelove," "Rio Bravo," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Bob Dylan
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Tin Pan Alley schlock pop of '59 -'62
Three favorite cities: London, Paris, New York
Favorite sport/team/player: I may have touched on this before: English football team Chelsea have been my obsession since I was eight. My hero was the sixties legend Jimmy Greaves.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: A 10" LP called "The Best of Billy Fury"
First stage kiss: In Hair, 1969. I tongue-kissed all the cast and quite a few of the audience.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Being in a blues band as singer/bass player
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: The moment I realized I would suck at anything else. Then it just had to be.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: (note where) I don't eat before or after. It's mainly because I like to perform on an empty stomach, and afterwards I usually want to go home. If I don't, then it means I don't eat until breakfast.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Right now, it's New York tap water. It's like a mountain stream.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: I just try to get as must rest and relaxation as possible.
Most challenging role you have ever played: James Leeds in Children of a Lesser God
Biggest challenge about this current project: Eight shows a week of something this intense, is - well, it's what it is. Tough.
Most fulfilling or fun aspect about the project: It's a joy to perform this show each and every time.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: Let's just say I try my hardest so there aren't any funny backstage stories... they are so not my thing!
Worst costume ever: A toga, in Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra. But I don't blame the costume for me not knowing what the hell I was doing playing some guy called Apollodorus. I didn't even understand the story!
Worst job you ever had: Scraping the boogies off Winston Churchill's bedspread.
Craziest audition story: I once went to the wrong audition and it was for a different show. I sang a rock song, and they were casting Nunsense. I didn't get to be a nun or anything.
Leading man role you've been dying to play: The next one, whatever it may be.... because I don't really set up hopes and expectations - or at least I try not to acknowledge them too much - in this business. If there is a classic role for my stage of life and career (rock version of King Lear, anyone?) then I'd be all over it!
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Lady Bracknell. What the hell.
Something about you that surprises people: I'm not scary.
Something you are incredibly proud of: A pre-Colombian kind of wooden figure that I made in wood shop at school.
Career you would want if not a performer: CEO of large corporation
Three things you can't live without: Love, love and love
"I'll never understand why…" … human beings don't embrace each other totally.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Be careful of too much advice. Learn by watching, not listening to second-hand accounts.
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