PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Motown: The Musical's "Marvin Gaye," Bryan Terrell Clark
By Matthew Blank
April 30, 2013
Bryan Terrell Clark, who plays Marvin Gaye in Motown: The Musical, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
This marks his Broadway debut. Other stage work includes Fences (Corey) at Pasadena Playhouse opposite Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett and work at the Mark Taper Forum, Reprise, Guthrie, Philadelphia Theater Company and Alliance.
Full given name:
Bryan Terrell Clark
Where you were born/where you were raised:
What your parents did/do for a living:
Mom was a teacher and principal. Dad was a blue collar worker.
A brother and a sister
Current audition song/monologue:
James Sampliner's arrangement of "No One is Alone"
I'm really good at party games... LOL. Resume Special Skills??? Don't know if I even have that on my resume anymore.
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Spelling and building things.. Takes me forever to put together anything from Ikea.
First Broadway show you ever saw:
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
The opening night of Dreamgirls
Current show other than your own you have been recommending
Once and Lucky Guy
Favorite showtune(s) of all time:
It's between "On Broadway" and "Sophisticated Ladies"
Some favorite modern musicals:
Fela! and Wicked
Some favorite classic musicals:
West Side Story and The Wiz
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with:
Paul Robeson, Ossie Davis, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead:
Billy Porter, Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald, Kim Burrell, Brandy
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
Audra McDonald in Porgy and Bess
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
Gospel Worship Music
MAC or PC?
Facebook and Google
Last book you read:
"Divided Soul" by David Ritz
Must-see TV show(s):
"Scandal" and "Game of Thrones"
Last good movie you saw:
"Olympus Has Fallen"
Some films you consider classics:
"The Last Dragon"
"Coming to America"
"The Piano Teacher"
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
Silly pop music... even Ke$ha
Three favorite cities:
Venice, New York, Los Angeles
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
It was either Mariah Carey's first CD or SWV
What are some of your most memorable roles as a kid or
teenager and how old were you?
Antipholus of Syracuse in Comedy of Errors, 16
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
My mom says it was since I could talk!
How you got your Equity card:
I was performing a new play by Walter Dallas at the Freedom Theater in Philly. He cast me as the lead and offered me the opportunity to get my card at that moment.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal:
A chicken wrap and a smoothie from Fuel in Midtown
Favorite liquid refreshment:
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:
Vocal warm up, prayer, listening to music (whatever mood I'm in or WANT to be in)
Most challenging role you have ever played:
The one I'm playing now: Marvin Gaye
Craziest audition story:
I had just moved to L.A. and auditions were going well, but there was a consistent trend. Everytime I went in to play a thug, robber or general bad guy, I would be asked to read a good guy role instead. That was problematic because most of the guys reading the lawyers, cops and good guys were so much older then myself.
I realized it was because I would enter the casting office as my warm, nice, happy self; and then I would transform into the character. They didn't want that. I had a theory that they just wanted to believe I was that person and not acting.
I had this great audition for a guest star on "CSI: NY" coming up and I wanted to test my theory, so when I got to the casting office I was already in character. Pants saggin'! Voice deep and raspy! Mean look in my eyes! Barely acknowledged anyone! After I read I slowly walked out of the room, gave the director a threatening glance, and slammed the door.
I booked it! The first day on set the director called me over and said, "Bryan you fooled me! You are no thug! You went to Yale!" I laughed and said, "I'm an Ivy League thug."
What has been the biggest challenge about this project?
One of the hardest things about the project is the Broadway schedule. I don't think people really understand how intense the Broadway schedule can be. Tech, previews, rehearsals, publicity, interviews, events. Performers are Gladiators! Broadway ain't for suckas! :)
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect?
Meeting so many artists that I look up to. From Bono to Aretha Franklin. To have these iconic figures appreciate your work... it's a dream come true.
When were you first aware of Marvin Gaye's music?
I was so immersed in this music, I can't even pinpoint the first time I heard it.
What sort of research or preparation went into channeling such an iconic figure?
There was endless source material that aided in my preparation process. There were documentaries, books, interviews and of course his music. I dived in head first.
Your personal 5 favorite performers of the "Motown Era":
Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, The Supremes, The Temptations
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:
I occasionally walk out on stage with my fly unzipped. But other then that I haven't had too many major mishaps. I've missed a line before, but that happens every so often in live theater.
Worst costume ever:
I had to wear a wool tunic, and the heaviest wool cape in a out-door performance of Romeo and Juliet in the middle of a blistering summer!
Worst job you ever had:
Passing out pizza flyers. I was going door to door handing them out. I even had to put them on cars in mall parking lots.
If you could trade roles with anyone in the cast for a week, who would it be?
I'd want to have Donald Webber's track for a week. He gets to be a Temptation and Mickey Stevenson.
Leading man role you've been dying to play:
I'm dying to play Hamlet.
Leading lady role you'd like a shot at:
Maybe Meryl Streep's part in "The Devil Wears Prada"
Something about you that surprises people:
I think I'm a little dorkier or more nerdy than people expect. I'm very much an Urban Nerd.
Something you are incredibly proud of:
My friends and all their accomplishments. I love seeing people succeed and reach their goals.
Career you would want if not a performer:
I would probably be a preacher or councilor
Three things you can't live without:
Love, coffee and music
"I'll never understand why…"
… lazy people complain.
Words of advice for aspiring performers:
Don't buy into the law of scarcity! If someone gets a role you want, they didn't take anything from you. Celebrate your colleagues' achievements. There is a role and opportunity out there that is perfect for YOU, and it's coming. Another's achievement doesn't deprive you of yours. Work hard and stay focused on the positive.