PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Justin Bartha

Brief Encounter   PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Justin Bartha Justin Bartha doesn't exactly have a hangover at the end of each performance of Lend Me a Tenor, but something close to it.
Justin Bartha
Justin Bartha Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The actor, who appeared in the blockbuster film "The Hangover," said he's lost ten pounds since he began performing in Ken Ludwig's knockabout farce on Broadway. But he's not complaining, given that it's his Broadway debut (actually New York stage debut as well), and he gets to slam doors alongside such seasoned pros as Anthony LaPaglia and Tony Shalhoub. The NYU grad talked to Playbill.com about hitting his stage career running.

Playbill.com: How did you come to be cast in Lend Me A Tenor?
Justin Bartha: I started to actively look for a play to do. I had looked over the last few years, but they sent this and I read it and I thought it was so funny. And obviously [director] Stanley Tucci and Anthony LaPaglia and Tony Shalhoub were attached. It was a no-brainer from there.

Playbill.com: They were already on board.
JB: They were. And I just kind of did whatever I could to try to be involved.

Playbill.com: Did you know anything about the play before they sent it to you?
JB: I didn't. I'd heard of Lend Me a Tenor, but I wasn't overly familiar. I was a fan of farce, and reading it with that in mind, and with the people already involved playing those characters, it was funny immediately to me.

Playbill.com: When you were training in school, did you ever appear in a farce?
JB: I didn't. I was a big fan of Noises Off. But they don't really teach you much of that in school. It's mostly Shakespeare and other stylized forms. Playbill.com: How did Stanley Tucci go about getting everyone up to speed?
JB: We just jumped right into it in the rehearsal process. From the first day we didn't spend much time sitting around. We got on our feet right away and stumbled through it, and tried to organically find specific beats that weren't necessarily written into the play, and beef up the moments to the point where there's never a second where there's not something funny happening.

Mary Catherine Garrison and Justin Bartha in Lend Me A Tenor
photo by Joan Marcus

Playbill.com: During the previews, were you surprised by what laughs hit and what laughs didn't?
JB: We were pleasantly surprised that a lot of the more subtle physical comedy that we were peppering in among the more grand, over-the-top stuff was hitting just as much. There were obviously moments that were funny to us but not exactly funny to the audience. And then there were moments that weren't funny to us that were hilarious to the audience. Playbill.com: After you graduated from NYU, did you perform on stage in anything?
JB: I didn't. I hadn't really been on a stage with an audience since high school. We would do scene work in college. I didn't go to Hollywood right away. I stayed in New York and began to write and direct commercials. But, no, I hadn't been on a stage in quite a while.

Playbill.com: You must be exhausted at the end of the evening.
JB: I'm very exhausted. I'm very tired. I think I've lost at least ten pounds. It's the sign of a good farce.

Playbill.com: Do you know what you're doing after your run in Tenor ends?
JB: Well, I'm supposed to begin shooting a sequel to "The Hangover." Playbill.com: With the same cast?
JB: With the same cast.

Playbill.com: Do you know anything about the story?
JB: No. We've haven't seen anything yet about what it's about.

Playbill.com: Except that there's probably a hangover involved.
JB: Yes, there's probably most definitely a hangover in there somewhere.

Anthony LaPaglia and Justin Bartha
Anthony LaPaglia and Justin Bartha
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