THE LEADING MEN: George Hearn Is What He Is, Twice, in Broadway's Scandalous

By Harry Haun
12 Nov 2012

Hearn as "Brother Bob," with Roz Ryan
Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Hearn explains, "In the second half, I play an adversarial preacher in L.A. who's trying to bring her down because she has gotten onto his turf. I think of him as Salieri to her Mozart. She was a genius in self-promotion and getting people excited, and he — isn't."

The role, by the name of Brother Bob, does give Hearn a chance to draw on his Tennessee roots. "Yeah, I got 'em a little bit. I wasn't really a Southern hillbilly, but I knew that world well. John Cullum and I used to talk about it being from Tennessee and doing a Southern preacher in that period. This guy is fun to play. His sermons are fun. He's a successful preacher himself, but he's fascinated by her, clearly. He uses very erotic language talking about her in his sermons. She's 'beguiling,' she's 'trying to undermine you,' she's 'got those eyes that allure.' He gets turned on by her, I think. Still, they're opponents."

Scandalous is Hearn's first time on Broadway since Wicked (2004-2006). "I replaced Joel Grey the first year. Last year I did Off-Broadway — a Dracula that's best forgotten."

His work in the Encores! edition of Fanny is certainly worth remembering, as are the seasons he put in with the Sondheim summer musicals in Ravinia, outside Chicago.

"I had five years out there, and I've enjoyed it a lot, with Patti LuPone and others," he beams. "I liked Ravinia. My time up there was well used, but I'm delighted to be back here. I'm retired, but I'm not very good at retiring. People in the theatre aren't."