PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Adam Godley

Brief Encounter   PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Adam Godley
 
British actor Adam Godley, whose "gypsy" is revealed in the Broadway revival of Anything Goes, talks about playing light comedy.

Adam Godley
Adam Godley Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

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Adam Godley, the lanky British actor last seen on Broadway as Victor in the 2002 Tony Award-winning Best Revival of Private Lives, didn't get the leading lady in that acclaimed production. But in Anything Goes, the champagne-kissed revival of the Cole Porter musical now at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, he (spoiler alert!) finally snags the girl.

The three-time Olivier Award nominee's Playbill bio is as fresh as his portrayal of Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in Anything Goes: "ADAM GODLEY The National Theatre, London: a dog, a comedian, a Jewish neighbor, a Catholic saint, an eldest son, a youngest son, an only son. Donmar Warehouse: a writer, a reporter. The Royal Court Theatre: doctor, architect. West End: prince, autistic savant, lyricist, suitor, another suitor. Royal Shakespeare Company: cuckold, soldier, another soldier. Broadway: newlywed. Adam has been nominated for three Olivier Awards (doctor, comedian, autistic savant), losing out to a servant, a barman and a clown."

Godley, who is not known for musicals, sings Porter's "The Gypsy in Me" in Anything Goes,, a light musical comedy not far removed from the tone of light comedy Godley played in Private Lives.

We met Godley in between Anything Goes rehearsals (the Roundabout Theatre Company staging was rehearsed at Roundabout's Studio 54) prior to its Broadway launch. The musical went on to win enthusiastic reviews.  

Godley in Anything Goes.
photo by Joan Marcus

I loved your work as the rival husband in Private Lives. That was your Broadway debut?
Adam Godley: Yeah, it was, but [this is] definitely my musical debut, and I'm very excited about it.

There's a flavor connection between Cole Porter and Noel Coward — both wrote light, delicious, sweet. Can you talk a little about it?
AG: Absolutely. Partly what attracted me to this is just the wit — the sparkling wit. [Director] Kathleen [Marshall] referred to the thing being like a glass of champagne, and I like champagne, but it's gotta be good champagne, and this is really good champagne. That sparkling wit — it's just dazzling, and it's a real challenge to get to the point where you are believably a person who speaks those lines, and that's what we've all been working on like crazy.

Tell me a bit about your character.
AG: Well, he's called [Lord] Evelyn Oakleigh, and he's a British aristocrat who is obsessed with all things American and is traveling on this boat and is going to get married to someone that he maybe is not wholly in love with. Echoes of Charles and Diana, maybe. I don't know, but it all comes good in the end. He meets someone and falls in love and is able to reveal his true inner self, and that is something else. I'm always really attracted by characters who appear to be one thing and turn around and they're quite something else, and this part absolutely allows me to indulge all of that.

Have you done musical theatre before?
AG: The last time I sang on a stage was in Sam Mendes' production of Cabaret in London, where I played Cliff. A production that came to this very theatre where we're rehearsing — Studio 54. And that's the last time I sang on stage, which was a while back.

Godley and Jessica Walter take an opening night bow.
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Does this show work new muscles for you?
AG: Absolutely, it does — and having Kathleen looking after my feet and [musical; director] Rob Fisher looking after my vocal chords, I'm in really good hands, and I just remind myself every day that I've got them holding me up, and hopefully, I'll be O.K.

Is light comedy a world you live in? Is that your sweet spot, as an actor?
AG: Well, no. It's a world I've definitely touched on, but I try to be a moving target and [act in] all kinds of different genres. I've been fortunate enough to play such an incredible range of characters from St. Paul to British comedians, and then doing Wilde and Coward and Shakespeare. So I like to really mix it up as much as possible, and this, for me, is quite a new challenge and kind of terrifying and exciting in equal measure.

Broadway is known as a serious, connected, supportive community that embraces its own. Did you sense that when you were here before ?
AG: Very much so. It's something that Broadway actually does brilliantly, is welcome you in, and you feel immediately part of the community and people. [There's] an incident I'll relay to you: On the very first day [of rehearsal for Anything Goes], I walked into a company and I didn't know a soul. I didn't know anybody here, and I was walking past Joel [Grey], and he said, "How are you getting on?" And I said, "Well, it's a bit like the first day of school," and he stepped back and he just opened his arms and gave me a huge hug. And that speaks a lot to Joel, and is very emblematic to me of the experience of coming to Broadway.

(Kenneth Jones is managing editor of Playbill.com. Write to him kjones@playbill.com or follow him on Twitter @playbillkenneth.)

 

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