|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Steve Kazee became a Renthead on his first trip to New York with the undergrad theatre department of Kentucky's Morehead State University in 1997. "I saw Rent and thought Adam Pascal was the most amazing performer in the world, a rock and roll guy just wailing it out," Kazee recalls. "It wasn't what I thought Broadway would be like." When cast member Anthony Rapp invited the students to attend another performance with fewer understudies, Kazee snatched a standing-room ticket. "I went back in my Rent cap, my Rent t-shirt, and waited afterward at the stage door for autographs and pictures. I was hooked."
That trip, which also included visits to see Dixie Carter in Master Class and Whoopi Goldberg in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, turned out to be a major catalyst in Kazee's career. "I knew when we first walked through Times Square that this was the city where I was going to live someday," he says. "Finally, for the first time in my life, I found someplace that felt like home."
Now, 15 years later, Kazee, 36, is the one greeting fans at the stage door of Broadway's Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where he stars as a struggling Irish street musician inspired by a Czech immigrant (Cristin Milioti) in Once, the intimate, Tony-winning Best Musical based on the 2007 Oscar-winning indie flick. For the record, Kazee has heard that some of the show's rabid repeat customers, Once's own version of Rentheads, call themselves Onesies.
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