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

Jeremy Hays, who recently took over the role of Raoul in Broadway's long-running Phantom of the Opera, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Jeremy Hays
Jeremy Hays

Hays made his Broadway debut in the 2006 revival of Les Misérables and went on to originate the role of Enjolras for the 25th Anniversary production at Paper Mill Playhouse and on tour.

Other theatre work includes Cats, Hair, Camelot, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Oklahoma! and West Side Story.


Full given name:
Jeremy Landon Hays

Where you were born/where you were raised:
Okmulgee, OK (good luck pronouncing that). I was raised in Henryetta and Tulsa, OK. I grew up practicing baseball on a makeshift diamond in the middle of a cow pasture.

Zodiac Sign:
Gemini

What your parents did/do for a living:
My father taught business at Oklahoma State University for 25 years. After retiring he worked with inmates in correctional facilities as a teacher and mentor. My sister and I were fortunate to have my mother at home with us when we were young. She later worked at the local newspaper and with my father at the Tulsa County Jail.

Siblings:
I have a sister, Jamie. She teaches kindergarten and 1st grade. She is married to Jeff Lazalier, former television meteorologist and insurance broker. They have two amazing little boys, Graysen and Payten, and their older sister, Seton, is a talented artist. They live in Broken Arrow, OK.

Special skills:
I’m really good at cleaning anything and could spend hours cleaning. Some people would call that OCD. I just think it’s thorough. But yeah maybe a little crazy.

Something you're REALLY bad at:
Roller skating! I skateboard, decently, but for some reason cannot roller skate. It’s really hilarious. There are videos.

First Broadway show you ever saw:
The revival of Into the Woods. It was perfect. The show is perfect. From edge to edge there is not another piece of theatre with music in it that conveys more of the human experience than that show. I think art finds you, or maybe you find it, exactly at the time you need it.

If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
Hamlet with Richard Burton, 1964.

Current show other than your own you have been recommending to friends:
Once. They have captured all the beauty of that movie and that music on stage. I was mesmerized.

Favorite showtune(s) of all time:
"In This Wide, Wide World" from Gigi "Pretty Women" from Sweeney Todd

Some favorite modern musicals:
Giant The Light in the PiazzaSunday in the Park with George

Some favorite classic musicals:
1776, Carousel, The Wizard of Oz, Holiday Inn

Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with:
James Stewart, Paul Newman, Madeline, Kahn Vivien Leigh

Your personal vocal idols, living or dead:
Jonas Kaufman. He is redefining the operatic tenor. We haven’t seen anything like him. Anthony Warlow. Is there anything he can’t sing? And it’s just pure and real. Robert Plant. Best rock vocalist ever.

The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
The Scottish Play with Patrick Stewart. He just stood there and those words poured out of his mouth and you couldn’t take your eyes away. There was so much to look at in that production but Patrick Stewart told that story as if he was reading you a bedtime story. I’ll never forget the power that generated from that man.

Music that makes you cry, any genre:
My wife and I saw Glen Hansard at Radio City a few years ago. He covered Van Morrison’s "Into the Mystic." Truly beautiful moment, and the tears rolled down our cheeks.

MAC or PC?
MAC. If you say PC you just haven’t bought a new computer since 2000. And If you have bought a PC since 2000, then you also think organic produce is bogus and our climate is just in a naturally warming phase.

Most played song on your iPod:
Jay Z - "Tom Ford." Seriously.

Most-visited websites:
Wikipedia. I am curious about everything.

Favorite Tweeters:
@billmaher @TheTweetOfGod #FF

Last book you read:
"Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

Must-see TV show(s):
"Breaking Bad" "Friday Night Lights" "Game Of Thrones" "Newsroom" "Orange Is The New Black" "True Blood" "The Wire" "Sherlock" "Homeland" "Arrested Development" "Downton Abbey" "Louie" "Eastbound and Down" "Family Guy" "The Office" "Parks and Recreation" "Fawlty Towers" (I watch a lot of TV. Sorry I don’t like "Mad Men")

Last good movie you saw:
"This Is The End" was hilarious. “Hermione just stole all our s#!t!”

Some films you consider classics:
"Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" "Drive" "The Nightmare Before Christmas" "Wayne’s 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, it’s 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 Springsteen’s "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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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. Don’t knock it till you try it and if you go somewhere that really knows what they’re doing it’s 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. It’s 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. I’d do this role at some kid’s 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 don’t know. I guess I hope this works out!

Three things you can't live without:
The gym, kale, my dog

"I'll never understand why…"
… 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.