A SMASH-ING VILLAIN
Stage veteran Will Chase, who played the role of Michael Swift on the NBC musical drama "Smash," is back on stage in Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Rupert Holmes' The Mystery of Edwin Drood — following a weeklong stint in the Gershwin-scored musical Nice Work If You Can Get It, where he stepped in for a vacationing Matthew Broderick. The actor, who is known for his rock-tenor voice — evident in Broadway's Rent, Miss Saigon, Aida, The Full Monty, High Fidelity and "Smash" — is exercising his "legit" musical-theatre chops with his recent stage outings. Aside from Nice Work and his current project, Drood, Chase was also seen in the Encores! production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Pipe Dream. We recently caught up with the busy actor, who talked about exploring his classical side and living it up as the villainous John Jasper in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
You first came onto my radar when you starred as Roger in Rent — that show is a big part of my life. It's interesting that Roger Davis and John Jasper are worlds apart.
Will Chase: Yeah, they really are. It was my first Broadway show back in the day, and I think people thought all I did was the rock 'n' roll thing [because] then I did Miss Saigon for a while and Aida… I mean, I had been doing legit [material], but no one had really seen it. The Pipe Dream [by New York City Center Encores!], of course, and Nice Work are a little more along those lines. Yeah… [Roger and Jasper] are night and day, vocally, and I don't know that I could've done this role ten years ago. It's such a heavy beast. And, to get to sing this stuff…! [Laughs.]
Why do you say that you wouldn't have been able to take on a role like this ten years ago?
WC: When we closed Rent, my voice had… I would use the word "marinated." The older you get, the better your chops get, I think. With Rent, when everybody was in it the first time around, everybody was so young, and everybody was missing four or five shows a week because that [material] is hard to sing eight times a week. This is, too. [Edwin Drood] requires so much of me physically and vocally, I feel like now I'm in the place where I can kind of sing anything. I don't know if that would have been true a decade ago.
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