PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Cheyenne Jackson, Starring in The Most Happy Fella at City Center's Encores!

By Brandon Voss
31 Mar 2014

Jackson in The Performers.
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Last year you released your debut album, "I'm Blue, Skies," which spawned a number of singles and music videos. As you return to the stage, how has your experience as a solo pop artist impacted you as a performer?
CJ: It's all in the same world, really, but the main thing it's helped me do is really dig into the lyrics of a song. I've always thought about what I'm singing and where a character's words are coming from, but writing my own lyrics and knowing where they come from does give you a different perspective. It's been an amazing experience, and I'm already writing my second album.

Between promoting your record, touring with your solo concerts, and shooting films like the upcoming "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks," you've been very busy.
CJ: And I'm loving it. If you give me 10 things to do, I'm much better than if you give me one thing to do. A lot of downtime isn't so great for me. I love to work no matter what genre it is. In fact, I just did a cool, crazy guest spot on an upcoming CSI spin-off with Patricia Arquette, and I love that it's so random and different from singing "Joey, Joey, Joey" at Encores!

Your last legitimate stage appearance was as Mandrew, an adult film star, in Broadway's The Performers. When it closed in November 2012, it had only played seven regular performances. What went wrong?
CJ: First of all, it was a hard sell, and we knew that. Even though it's a comedy, it was a play about porn. It's the kind of show that needs word of mouth, and for that you need to run longer than seven shows. All of my smart comedy friends — Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer — were like, "Holy crap, this is funny! I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt!" I knew it was starting to roll, but then hurricane Sandy came and wiped out everything. We didn't have a good presale, because a show like that has to build, so they had to close us. It was really hard because I loved that character. We'd worked for so long to make these characters not seem like cartoons — I mean, just trying to do a scene about your wife being pregnant and dodging the dildos she's throwing at you while still maintaining a sense of realism.

Did that experience sour you on theatre for a while?
CJ: I've had more than a year to process it, and I'm obviously over it, because you have to be. It's part of showbiz. I read my friend Patti LuPone's memoir, and she writes about how she's had way more flops than hits, but you don't think of that when you think of Patti. Yes, it was frustrating, and it did hurt, but I knew I'd come back to the stage. It was just a matter of timing and finding the right project.


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