THE LEADING MEN: Richard Fleeshman, the Soul and Body of Ghost The Musical

By Brandon Voss
16 May 2012

Fleeshman in Ghost.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Being shirtless onstage must be good incentive to stay in shape.
RF: Anne Hathaway was recently asked of her appearance as Catwoman if she'd been working out, and she said something like, "If you had to wear a cat suit in front of the entire world, what would you do?" So, yeah, there's no better incentive, really. I try to get to the gym often, but the show is also incredibly hard work, so it's keeping us fit as it is.

Your good looks and the romantic nature of your role have positioned you as one of Broadway's new matinee idols. Have you had any interesting fan interaction at the stage door?
RF: Yeah, there was a lady that asked me to sign her breast, which was quite interesting. I tried to be as gentlemanly as possible as I put my signature on. I don't know why she wanted it on that particular area, but she was adamant, and it was certainly a perk of my day.

You also make yourself available to fans on Twitter.
RF: Twitter's great. I love getting that immediate response from the community who came to see the show that night. Because they chose to come see this show, and it was this one special moment just for the people in that room, so to get that feedback from them is really lovely.

Ghost's visual effects are very impressive. Have you ever felt like you had to compete against that so as not to be overshadowed by the spectacle?
RF: No, not at all. The show's incredibly epic, but the thing that really leaves the audience telling other people that they have to see this show is because it touches them, and that's what's integral to the show. They don't cry because someone walked through a door; they cry because Sam and Molly can't be together anymore. But we're so proud of every element of the show. The irony is that the actors are so unaware of what's going on behind us a lot of the time. About 80 percent of that stuff I've never even seen because I'm onstage facing out front.

After the opening night curtain call, Warchus implored the audience to spread the word about Ghost and push back against "snobbery" from some New York theatre critics. Do you share his outlook on that subject?
RF: I very often share outlooks with Matthew Warchus. What's interesting about his perspective on this whole thing is that he's been a part of every type of show. He's been the toast of town and won awards on both sides of the Atlantic, so he's been there and seen it all. So I think what he said was very intelligent and intuitive. I'm very proud of the show, and I know he is as well.

Ghost received Tony nominations for its lighting design, scenic design, and supporting actress Da'Vine Joy Randolph. Do you feel that the show was unfairly snubbed in other major categories?
RF: Honestly, and I can't emphasize this enough — and maybe being an Englishman helps — but I'm so out of the loop with all these things. I didn't even know the Tony nominations were being announced that morning, and I got all these texts, like, "Are you watching?" "Are you watching?" I panicked, like, "Watch what? What's happened?" [Laughs.] I put on the tube thinking something terrible had happened. So yeah, I'm just thrilled to have brought this show, which has changed my life, to New York. That's all I could've asked for. Awards are lovely, but that's not why we do it. There's no reason to get caught up in that stuff.

View highlights from the show: