PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Phantom of the Opera's Newest "Raoul," Jeremy Hays

By Matthew Blank
17 Sep 2013

Some films you consider classics: "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind"
"The Nightmare Before Christmas"
"Wayneís World"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Any of the above singers and Louis C.K.
Pop culture guilty pleasure: "Under The Dome." Hey, itís Stephen King and Dean Norris is in it!
Three favorite cities: Austin, New York, L.A.

This country boy likes city life.

Favorite sport/team/player: Kevin Durant, OKC. Thunder Up!
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Bruce Springsteenís "Born In The USA"
What are some of your most memorable roles as a kid or teenager and how old were you? I played baseball as a kid. I wanted to be a major league pitcher. Theatre wasnít on my radar until late in high school. But I did throw a shut out against Savannah my freshman year. Does that count?
First stage kiss: I was Curly in Oklahoma! in college and Natalie Loftin Bell was Laurie. She is gorgeous. Lucky me.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: I stuttered really badly as a kid. I sang in the choir and always loved performing but was too scared of my stutter to have speaking lines.

My drama teacher in high school urged me to try out for Much Ado About Nothing my junior year. Something about Shakespeare clicked with me. The rhythm and musicality of the text helped me speak the words. For the first time in my life I wasnít afraid of what might come out of my mouth. It gave me confidence and my stutter got better.

I think the reason why any of us are artists is because at one point art changed our lives. Theatre truly changed mine. My life was never the same after that play. Thank you, Mrs. Brelsford.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: (note where) I love Nizza on 45th and 9th. Their gluten free pizzas are amazing.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Moscow Mule. Vodka, lime and a little ginger beer. Donít knock it till you try it and if you go somewhere that really knows what theyíre doing itís served in a copper mug. Cheers.
Most vocally challenging role you have ever played: Enjolras in Les Mis. I mean he sings recitative above the staff. Not to mention the power that flows through that music. It was exhilarating and always a challenge to keep generating that force.
What has been the biggest challenge about this project? Living up to all the greats who came before me. Itís such an honor to do Phantom. So many great performers have stood on the Majestic stage. I think about the torch I carry every time I stand in their place.
Craziest audition story: I asked to do the Thenardier material at my Enjolras audition. It was weird, dark, and I had an imaginary dead body puppet sing in the sewers with me. Why did they hire me?
If you could trade roles with anyone in the cast for a week, who would it be? The Phantom... one day... one day..
Leading man role you've been dying to play: Hamlet. Iíd do this role at some kidís bat mitzvah.
Something you are incredibly proud of: My relationship with my wife. She taught me what it is to be selfless.
Career you would want if not a performer: I truly donít know. I guess I hope this works out!
Three things you can't live without: The gym, kale, my dog
"I'll never understand whyÖ" Ö history repeats itself.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Know who to listen to. Know who not to listen to. And always listen to yourself.