Polarizing media mogul Perez Hilton has made a name for himself by mocking pop culture and current events on his eponymous website, but now he'll do it in song as a new star of NEWSical the Musical, Off-Broadway's ever-morphing headline-ripping Drama Desk-nominated revue. Joining the NEWSical cast for four weeks beginning Sept. 8, Hilton — né Mario Lavandeira — explains why his eyebrow-raising professional stage debut is more of a dream deferred than a publicity stunt, even if his vocal inspiration is Rosie O'Donnell.
How did NEWSical come about for you?
Perez Hilton: I manifested it. That's the cheesy answer, but I do believe in that. I put the energy out there. Every opportunity I had, I shamelessly said that I wanted to do a musical. Then Tom D'Angora, the producer of NEWSical, reached out to me and asked me if I was interested in being in the show. I'd never seen NEWSical before, but I checked out some video clips online. I totally got it and understood why he reached out to me, because it's the perfect marriage between their brand and mine. It makes sense for me to be in this show. The show's so much fun, and I've been having so much fun in rehearsals. If people check me out, hopefully they'll be surprised that I don't suck.
You've had to leave your life in L.A. behind for a while for this Off-Broadway commitment. Why was now the perfect time?
PH: It's never the perfect time. I had to move things around and cancel some things. But after putting it out there for so long, this was like the universe talking to me, so it was an opportunity I couldn't resist.
Some people might say, "Perez Hilton isn't an actor, so he has no business being in an Off-Broadway show." What's your response to that?
PH: People have already been saying that. Some New York actor on Twitter — I forget the exact Twitter handle — was complaining, saying something like, "There are so many actors who have trained so hard for years, blah blah blah," and my response was basically that yeah, I was one of them. I trained at NYU for four years and received a BFA in Drama from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. In many ways, I feel like I'm a freshman in college again. I feel like I'm going back to my roots, and I'm rediscovering New York in a new and exciting way. Thankfully, I'm older and wiser now.
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