PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Stephen Bogardus

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Stephen Bogardus
 
Some years ago, filmmaker Preston Sturges made a movie called "Christmas in July." Actor Stephen Bogardus doesn't need to see it; he's lived it.
Stephen Bogardus
Stephen Bogardus

Off and on over the past three years, the busy actor has played Bob Wallace, one of the leads in the musical Irving Berlin's White Christmas. The Walter Bobbie-directed show, based on the classic yuletide movie of the same name, has been seen in commercial sitdowns in the U.S. and Canada for a number of seasons. This fall, it finally reached New York, landing at the Marquis Theatre for a limited run. Broadway veteran Bogardus (High Society, Falsettos) plays the part created by Bing Crosby, and, yes, he gets to sing "White Christmas." The performer spoke to Playbill.com a couple days before Christmas and to talk about what it's like to celebrate Dec. 25 every day.

Playbill.com: Are you a Christmas person?
Stephen Bogardus: I am. But I confess this Christmas is a little different. We are such a relentless show schedule that it has been difficult for me to embrace the holiday the way I would if I wasn't working. We're doing nine shows a week for five straight weeks. We had a day off last Monday, but we did "Good Morning America," so we were up at 4:45 in the morning.

Playbill.com: So you didn't get to do any shopping?
SB: I've done a little bit of shopping on-line and I've done a little bit here and there during the fall. Between now and our matinee tomorrow I have to go out there and do some catch-up.

Kerry O'Malley and Stephen Bogardus in White Christmas
photo by Joan Marcus

Playbill.com: How do you like to embrace the holiday when you're not working?
SB: We have a collection of CDs of holiday music, and a good friend of ours, Michael Rupert, who I did Falsettos with, his partner puts a compilation together each year and sends it to a lot of their friends. That's something we look forward to getting every year. I take the lead on getting the tree, and we have an eight-year-old son. He embraces the spirit with playing Santa and the reindeer, sort of constructing a sleigh in the middle of our living room. We celebrate pretty much at home, in a fairly simple way. Playbill.com: You've done the show a number of times before. When was the first time?
SB: I did in 2005 at Boston at the Wang Center. Then I did it in 2006 at St. Paul. Then I skipped last year. Playbill.com: And at some point you did it in the middle of summer!
SB: I did. The show was originally penned by Paul Blake at the MUNY out in St. Louis. It was done in the summer of 2000. Eventually, he brought producer Kevin McCollum into the mix, and Kevin brought in David Ives, and David Ives did work on the book also. Paul brought the show back in the summer of 2006. I wouldn't wish that on anybody. That's 95 degrees and 95 percent humidity, with synthetic and wool costumes. If you want to lose weight, go out there and do White Christmas in the middle of summer.

Playbill.com: You play the role that was created by Bing Crosby in the film. Does that present any challenges?
SB: You know what? I let him go completely. I did watch the movie briefly, but that was more for interviews, trying to say what's in our version that isn't in the film version. And I've even forgotten that. The one thing that Bing brings is a real ease with the role, and if I've taken anything from the film version, it's trying not to show the work. I'm doing my best not to break a sweat, to make it look easy.

Stephen Bogardus (center) with the cast
Stephen Bogardus (center) with the cast
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