CUE & A: Holler If Ya Hear Me Star Ben Thompson on Tupac, Unitards and Math-Induced Ulcers
24 Jun 2014
Ben Thompson, back on Broadway as Griffy in the new musical Holler If Ya Hear Me, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Thompson has previously appeared on Broadway in Matilda (Escapologist, Miss Trunchbull) and American Idiot.
Other stage work includes the Off-Broadway revival of Rent (New World Stages), Carrie (MCC), Parable of the Sower (New York City Opera) and national tours of Disney’s High School Musical, Big River and Joseph…
He is married to fellow Broadway performer Kat Nejat (Lysistrata Jones).
Full given name:
Robert Benjamin Thompson
Where you were born/where you were raised:
Tulsa, OK (FUNKY TOWN)
What your parents did/do for a living:
My mom is a retired community planner and my dad is a lobbyist in Washington, DC.
Three older sisters and three younger half siblings
Current audition song/monologue:
Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me"
Guitar and sign language (not at the same time... that’s impossible)
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Math… embarrassing but true. Please don't make me handle a group check. It gives me ulcers.
First Broadway show you ever saw:
Phantom of the Opera when I was 8 years old
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be?
I would love to see the original Shakespeare productions.
Current or recent show other than your own you have been recommending to friends:
Fly By Night at Playwrights Horizons is some of the smartest storytelling that I have seen in a long time. I will also always recommend Matilda (obviously).
Favorite showtune(s) of all time:
The Prologue to West Side Story, "Seasons of Love" from Rent (basically the soundtrack of my high school years), the title song from Oklahoma! (I think we can we all agree it is the greatest state song!)
Some favorite modern musicals:
American Idiot (duh), Fly By Night, Matilda, Lysistrata Jones, In the Heights, Spring Awakening, Once. There would be more if I had more free time to go to the theater! I rarely see something I don’t like. I love this community and this art form so much that I hardly ever leave the theater without taking something special with me from the experience.
Some favorite classic musicals:
West Side Story, Gypsy, Singin' in the Rain (the movie). My grandparents ran a small theatre in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and my grandfather would always sit us down in front of the TV and show us all these movie musicals. He played such a huge part in cultivating my ever-growing love for the musical.
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would have most loved to perform with:
Too many to name
Your personal performance idols, living or dead:
Kurt Elling, Chris Jackson, Josh Henry, Stevie Wonder, Steven Pasquale (this one is new... his performance in Bridges was UNREAL!)
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
My wife's opening night of the most recent revival of West Side Story on Broadway. That night was so special. Not only was it epic to see West Side Story back on Broadway, but watching my wife achieve her dream was mind-blowing. I don't know if I have ever been more proud.
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
Music and I have a very special relationship. I am such a huge music person and my love spans all genres. Honestly, music affects me differently every time I listen. I may listen to something one time and feel happy, and then the next time I hear it I feel an entirely different emotion.
MAC or PC?
Most played song on your iPod:
Partita for Solo Violin NO. 3 in E MAJOR. Seriously? This surprised me too. I listen to classical music before shows.
ESPN, Twitter (@itsBenThompson), Playbill
Last book you read:
"Wild Seed" by Octavia Butler
Must-see TV show(s):
"Friday Night Lights," "House of Cards," "Orange is the New Black," "Scandal," "Homeland," "Lost," "Battle Star Galactica," "Friends," "SportsCenter," "Game of Thrones" (I'm only on season 3...so good!) My wife and I are obviously binge-TV-series watchers.
Last good movie you saw:
"Grand Budapest Hotel"
Some films you consider classics:
"Billy Madison," "Happy Gilmore," "Tommy Boy." Sorry, the penguin made me do it.
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
Three favorite cities:
New York, Denver, Tulsa
NFL: NY Giants. NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder (Kevin Durant). MLB: Yankees. NCAA: TCU Horned Frogs (GO FROGS!!!!!!!!!)
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
Green Day's "Dookie"
First stage kiss:
Brigadoon in high school. I played Tommy and I remember being really nervous but also really happy I was in the show because that’s where all the girls were.
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.