PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking Star Marcus Stevens
By Matthew Blank
March 5, 2013
Marcus Stevens, who plays and impersonates a slew of characters in Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Stevens has worked at The Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Sacramento Music Circus, and many others. Recently, he received a Barrymore nomination for playing Motel in the Walnut Street Theatre's Fiddler on the Roof.
He is a Richard Rodgers Award-winning musical theatre writer and a member of the BMI Workshop. His musical Yo, Vikings!, written with Sam Willmott, has been produced in Philadelphia, Fresno and Pittsburgh.
Full given name:
Marcus Aaron Stevens
Where you were born/where you were raised:
Wallingford, Pennsylvania. 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia.
What your parents did/do for a living:
Both of my parents are educators. My mom ran a diagnostic language program for young kids with speech problems and is now retired. My father was the Director of Special Education in a public school district and is now the Education Director at a private charter school.
One little sister who is the coolest little sister ever. She's getting her MFA in directing at the Actor's Studio and I'm super proud. Love you, Rachel!
Um...impressions! And I'm a fountain of useless musical theatre trivia. My castmates often make fun of me for it.
First Broadway show you ever saw:
I was 4 and I sat on my uncle's lap at the Winter Garden to see Cats. Even though I was very young, I vividly remember my father taking me onstage to get Old Deuteronomy's autograph at intermission.
Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations when first starting out?
I have been really lucky to have many amazing mentors in theatre. When I was in middle school and high school I had the opportunity to be involved in two exceptional programs: Young People's Theatre Workshop and Upper Darby Summer Stage.
Claudia Carlsson, Teddie Psitos, Bob Moore, Paul Kerrigan, Joe Southard, Sonja Allen, Harry Dietzler, Dewey Oriente, Dierdre Finnegan, Matt Cloran and Rob Henry were all serious influences on me as a young actor. I also had an amazing high school director named John Shankweiler. At Point Park University I had great teachers like Rich Keitel, Shirley Tannenbaum, Robin Walsh and Scott Wise.
And finally, one of my recent mentors since I've become a professional actor has been Mr. Guy Stroman. Whew! Glad I can mention all those people now (in case I never win that EGOT).
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
I grew up with the filmed version of Sunday in the Park with George. I would love to have seen it live. However, I'd also die to see the original casts of How to Succeed, Fiddler on the Roof and Angels in America.
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
When I was in high school I saw Ragtime on Broadway with the original cast right before Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald left the show. I remember sobbing at intermission, turning to my parents and saying, "I have to do this."
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
I'm Jewish, and for some reason when I hear klezmer music I get weepy. Oy.
Your personal acting idols:
When I was a kid, I was in awe of Mandy Patinkin. I wanted to be him... and now I am. 8 shows a week!
Must-see TV show(s):
"The Good Wife"
And I watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert religiously.
Some films you consider classics:
"Field of Dreams"
"Back to the Future"
"The Muppets Take Manhattan"
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager:
I was a 17-year-old Tevye with a fake beard and I loved it.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
I think when I played Finch in How to Succeed in high school... and when I saw Ragtime.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal:
There's an amazing Shawarma place in Astoria called Duzan. It's on my way home and it's my guilty pleasure.
Favorite liquid refreshment:
Diet Coke. I live on the edge.
What drew you to this project?
I have always enjoyed doing impressions and broad characters and I grew up loving the old albums of Forbidden Broadway.
How did you research this performance?
YouTube is an amazing thing.
Most challenging role you have ever played:
I played Floyd Collins in college. So hard and so rewarding.
Any side projects or upcoming work you can talk about:
In addition to acting, I'm also a Richard Rodgers Award-winning musical theatre writer. Right now I'm working on a project called Eastburn Avenue that chronicles 3 generations of a modern Jewish family who fall apart over a will.
Something about you that surprises people:
I actually know some pop music!
Career you would want if not a performer:
Words of advice for aspiring performers:
Always be learning and trying to improve your work. And remember it's 80% confidence. You must believe in yourself and your abilities to make things happen.