THE LEADING MEN: Going to Batt

By Wayman Wong
03 Oct 2005

HEíS ON THE FAST TRACK TO FAME
If theatre is a horse race where young "Leading Men" jockey for stardom, Doug Kreeger has scored a Triple Crown. In May, the 5-foot-9 actor from Honolulu gave a killer performance as the chilling child murderer Richard Loeb in Thrill Me. In August, he won a 2005 Fringe Festival award for portraying a high school nerd in Swimming Upstream. And from Sept. 14-21, this NYU grad was picture-perfect as a gay Army photographer in Yank! at the N.Y. Musical Theatre Festival. Kreeger, 26, says, "It was a gift to originate three completely different characters in three new musicals in New York. Iím doing exactly what Iíve always dreamed."

Whether heís playing a cold-blooded killer from the 1920s or a sweet-faced soldier from the 1940s, Kreeger carries it off with confidence and charisma. He says, "Loeb was a dangerous part. He had so much anger that it was scary, but I loved it." An added Thrill of working on that show was being directed by Michael Rupert: "He was great, once I got past the fact I was working with ĎMarvin.í I never told him how much of an effect he and Falsettos had on me growing up. I had seen musicals like Hello, Dolly!, but Falsettos blew me mind."

Next came Swimming Upstream. "I was honored but flabbergasted that I got an award for goofing around with Jessica Snow-Wilson. I played Todd, a guy who wrote a sex-ed musical about sperm. It was broad comedy, and we had these set pieces that look like a vagina, and I thought: ĎThereís no way Iím gonna be upstaged by a vagina.í" Like Todd, though, he knew what it was like to be different: "Everyone in Hawaii surfed and went to the beach. And I spent my time in a dark theater for hours on end. I donít surf. Iím somewhat scared of the water, which is ridiculous, coming from Hawaii."

Kreeger next received raves for David and Joseph Zellnikís Yank!, a World War II buddy musical with a terrific, toe-tapping score and a touching story that was full of humor and heart. In it, he played Stu, a war photographer who clicks with Mitch, a macho serviceman magnetically played by Ivan Hernandez. Yank! follows what happens after their private affair becomes public, complete with dream ballet. Joseph Zellnik says, "Doug is a writerís dream and heís an incredibly smart actor." Kreeger adds, "Iím really proud of the cast. I hope Yank! has a future life because itís amazing."



Speaking of the future, Kreegerís next show is Bob Dylan and Twyla Tharpís The Times They Are A-Changiní, which will begin Jan. 25 at San Diegoís Old Globe Theatre. Though he loves R&B and hard rock, he says, "I bought a couple of Dylanís CDs and now Iím an uber fan. Twylaís a genius, and this show will be brilliant. Itís got three principal roles: a father, a son and a woman who mixes things up. Iím standing by for Michael Arden, and heíll be great. Thereís also a dance ensemble culled from Cirque du Soleil, Twylaís company and musical theater. Itís gonna be very cool!"

WHERE THE GUYS ARE
Thereís so much to see in New York: Scott Alan presents his latest Monday Nights, New Voices on Oct. 10 at 9:30 p.m. at The Duplex, 61 Christopher St. (212-255-5438). Hosted by Chad Kimball, itíll include Doug Kreeger, Neil Bartram, Gavin Esham and Charles Strouse. Ö BroadwayWorld.com kicks off its spectacular Standing Ovations IV on Oct. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Joeís Pub, 425 Lafayette St. (212-239-6200). Itíll star "Leading Men" alumni Michael Arden, Cheyenne Jackson and Howard McGillin, plus Andrea McArdle, Melba Moore and Lea Salonga. Ö The Mabel Mercer Foundation will celebrate its 20th anniversary by moving its Cabaret Convention (Oct. 17-23) to Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th St. (212-721-6500). The illustrious lineup will include multi-MAC Award winners such as Tom Andersen, Jeff Harnar, Phillip Officer, Craig Rubano and Marcus Simeone. Visit www.mabelmercer.org. Ö Speaking of Harnar, PS Classics releases his album, "Dancing in the Dark," on Oct. 4. Itís a sparkling gem of a CD, set off by Alex Rybeckís multifaceted arrangements. Ö The Broadway Cabaret Festival, hosted by Scott Siegel, will be held at Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St. (212-307 4100). Itíll offer a tribute to John Kander and Fred Ebb (Oct. 21); a double bill of Euan Morton and Eden Espinosa (Oct. 22) and Broadway Originals! (Oct. 23). Ö Amas Musical Theatre will host a panel called "Leading Men of Color" on Oct. 23 at 4 p.m. at the Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St. (212-563-2565), with Rob Barnes (Jesus Christ Superstar), Tony Chiroldes (The Capeman), Eric Anthony (Hairspray), Raun Ruffin (The Civil War) and Jerome Lucas Harmann (Swing!). Ö Finally, hereís a TV and DVD alert: John Tartagliaís kiddie show, "Johnny & the Sprites," will debut Oct. 9 on the Disney Channel. And our soldout "Leading Men" concert, which Tartaglia hosted May 30 at Joeís Pub, is now out on DVD. It was so popular at the Broadway Flea Market that it sold out twice. To get a copy ($35), E-mail www.broadwaybeat.com. Proceeds go to Broadway Cares.

Got comments or questions? E-mail me at waymanwong@hotmail.com.

Until next month, letís hear it for the "boys"!

Wayman Wong edits entertainment for The New York Daily News. He has been a movie and theater critic for The San Francisco Examiner, a writer for The Sondheim Review and a Drama-Logue Award-winning playwright.