A MAC OF ALL TRADES
On July 20 Wicked welcomes a New Kid to the block: Pop superstar Joey McIntyre makes his Broadway debut as Fiyero, the young guy who’s bewitched by Elphaba. The former New Kid on the Block, who’s sold millions of records, will be in Wicked through mid-January, but does he have "the right stuff" for the Great White Way? To quote a NKOTB hit, "he’s got it," says Stephen Schwartz, Wicked’s wonderful whiz of a composer: "Joey did a great job when he took over in my son Scott [Schwartz’s] show tick, tick … BOOM!, and I’m confident he’ll do just as well as Fiyero. He’s very charming, very musical and a much better actor than people who just know him from his pop-group days may realize."
Besides his N.Y. stage debut in tick, tick … BOOM! in 2001, McIntyre appeared in the Reprise! concert of Babes in Arms in L.A. and did a reading of Schwartz’s The Baker’s Wife with Richard Chamberlain and Kerry O’Malley. The boyish singer-songwriter also stars in the film of The Fantasticks (1995) and the movie of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding (2004). Plus, he was on TV’s "Boston Public" and just put out a stellar new solo album, "8:09," produced and co-written with Emanuel Kiriakou. Contrary to the title of one of his most fun and infectious tunes, the 5-foot-10 heartthrob isn’t content to "Stay the Same." Now 31 and married to Barrett, a blonde with "Cover Girl" looks, he hopes to have kids "in another year or two."
Question: Congrats on getting cast in Wicked? How’s it feel?
Joey McIntyre: Thrilling. I grew up doing community theatre [in Boston], and my whole family was involved. My sister Carol sorta got me involved with theatre. I sang my first song onstage with her: "I’d Do Anything" from Oliver! She was Nancy and I was Oliver. She was 16 and I was 6. Carol’s been raving and raving about Wicked, so when I got cast as Fiyero, she flipped out. To make my Broadway debut in a show that’s so successful and so cool, and to be singing with Tony winners [like Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel] is pretty ridiculous. I’m pinching myself. I’m working with Stephen Schwartz and Joe Mantello, and it’s so awesome.
Q: What’s your take on Fiyero?
McIntyre: I’m still trying to figure him out. He’s got a great journey. He starts off as a party boy who’s very shallow, but is he detached because he’s in pain or because he’s privileged? Elphaba calls him on it and knows he’s really hurt inside, and Fiyero realizes she sees something in him nobody else sees.
Q: In Wicked, you’re reunited with Joey Grey, who played your father-in-law in The Fantasticks. What do you recall about him?
McIntyre: It was my first movie, and he was such a pro. I remember being able to go to his trailer and chat about anything. I was 21 and blabbing about what I wanted to do, and he said everything would work out.
Q: And what about the movie of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding? There’s no release date yet, but it just got a rave review in Variety.
McIntyre: It was a kamikaze shoot, but the cast really stuck together. I played Tony, who tries to keep it altogether, while all the mayhem is going on.
Q: Was Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding anything like your own?
McIntyre: Oh, no! But it was a blast. We had about 230 people at the Plaza in New York, so that was beautiful. Everyone was waiting for [Barrett and me] to do a slow number for our first wedding song, and my wife came through the doors to "Like a Virgin." And then I came out, and we did this whole choreographed dance routine. People went crazy. Then we did "We Are Family" and everyone else came out, and then "Hava Nagilah" and everyone got on the chairs. It was amazing!
Q: You met your wife, who’s a real-estate agent, while she was showing you houses in L.A., and 8:09 was the number of your rental, and it’s your wedding date and the title of your new CD. How’d you know she was "the one"?
McIntyre: Barrett’s smart and has a great sense of humor. Blond hair, blue eyes, great legs. She’s beautiful and she’s the best. I had to find someone smarter than me, funnier than me and crazier than me, and I found her.
Q: Speaking of weddings, the topic of gay marriage has been in the news. And you’re Irish Catholic. What do you think of it?
McIntyre: I support gay marriage. I don’t see the big deal. It’s really ridiculous. My mother raised me Catholic, and I think the teachings of Jesus Christ have made me a caring person. And in my family, we have blacks, Jews and gays. I was brought up to follow what Jesus said: Love your neighbor, period.
Q: Back to theatre: In Jonathan Larson’s tick, tick … BOOM!, you played a songwriter who’s turning 30. You went into it after Sept. 11, 2001. Stephen Oremus, who worked with you then and is now music-directing Wicked, says you kept Larson’s show going because you brought new fans to the theatre.
McIntyre: That role changed my life. It was amazing to be around those people, and I loved the director, Scott Schwartz. I live in Tribeca and my apartment looked downtown, so I could see the Twin Towers. I was in Seattle [at the time of the attack]; it was mind-blowing. Tick, tick … BOOM! was a helluva name for a show then, but it was a hugh privilege to be part of Larson’s legacy.
Q: One of your favorite movies is "Shakespeare in Love." Why?
McIntyre: Gwyneth Paltrow. The movie was amazing, and she’s unbelievable, but I tell my wife that I have the real-life Gwyneth Paltrow.
Q: Would you ever want to tackle Shakespeare?
McIntyre: Omigod! Let’s just take it one step at a time. (Laughs.)
Or to quote another NKOTB hit, McIntyre could do it "Step by Step."
For more information, visit www.joeymcintyre.com.
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