PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Hunter Foster, Performing The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes at the O'Neill Theater Center

By Sophia Saifi
08 Jul 2013

Hunter Foster
Hunter Foster

Playbill.com sits down with Tony Award nominee Hunter Foster at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. 

Foster dons many caps: Actor, singer librettist and playwright.

The actor has starred in a string of successful musicals (Urinetown, The Producers, Grease and Little Shop of Horrors) and was most recently seen on television on ABC family's dramedy, "Bunheads."

Foster is at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center starring as the lead in Christopher Dimond and Michael Kooman's hilarious love letter and parody of the American musical The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes



The musical revolves around the tale of a man who wakes up to find himself stuck in a musical who embarks on a quest to escape. 

Foster sat down with Playbill.com to talk about reliving summer camp at the O'Neill, his limited grasp of Japanese and how much fun he's having working on Howard Barnes.

Question: Have you enjoyed your stint at the O'Neill?

Hunter Foster: I have. It's like summer camp. You have different casts, like there's a play going. There are two musicals happening and people are taking classes and interns. There are a ton of things going on. Everyone eats together and we dorm together.

Question: Has it been traumatic sharing a bathroom and living in dorms all over again? When was the last time you were thrown together with a bunch of people like this?

Foster: It's been fun. I've done other things that are similar but nothing like this. it takes you back to college. Thats the good thing about it. That is all there is. It is just the show and it's just the O'Neill and it's nice. You don't really have any distractions from the work.

Question: Yes, the work! The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes. Thoughts?

Foster: I got the script and I thought it was really funny and it's sort of like a little love letter to Broadway. It's been fun from the first moment we started it. We laughed in rehearsals and we've laughed during the show, and we've been having a great time. Like I said, it's like summer camp! It's beautiful here, the beach is right there and its really, really nice to be a part of it. 

Question: What was one of the first shows you watched?

Foster: Well Les Misérables was one of the first shows I watched in New York and it was big and dramatic. That's when I fell in love with becoming an actor and moving to New York.

Question: And then it's been mocked so beautifully in Howard Barnes. Do you agree that musicals should not take themselves too seriously?

Foster: I think that... yes and no. I think that no matter what story you're telling, whether it be in a play or musical, I think you have an obligation to say something. I don't necessarily think that shows should just be just for comedy. Like even some of the funny shows, The Book of Mormon has a message, it has a point. And I think that Howard Barnes has a point as well.

Question: What is that point, in your opinion?

Foster: I think they're still discovering it, but I think we all get wronged in life, we all have moments in life when we doubt that things can exist. Obviously, Howard Barnes was damaged by someone and it's learning to get back up and take a chance. It's kind of overcoming your past and moving forward and trusting and believing that you can move forward even though you've been damaged in the past. That's how I look at it. He really goes on a journey of letting go of the past and moving forward in the most hilarious possible way.

 Continued...