BRING IT ON!
When Jason Gotay learned the news that he would be Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark's newest Peter Parker/Spider-Man Alternate (performing Wednesday and Saturday matinees), he found it nearly impossible to keep the big news "on the 'DL,'" he said, since Seth Rudetsky hinted on Playbill.com's "Obsessed!" that the actor would take on more high-flying Broadway stunts than he did in Bring It On: The Musical. By the time the "cat was out of the bag," however, Gotay was already getting rigged and ready to soar across the audience at the Foxwoods Theatre. The actor, who — after closing Bring It On, in which he made his Broadway debut, and Off-Broadway's F#%cking Up Everything — remains busy by headlining various concerts at 54 Below, Joe's Pub, (le) Poisson Rouge and The Highline Ballroom, was scheduled to make his Spider-Man debut Oct. 23. When Matt Wilkas, the show's previous Alternate, was sick and unable to go on Oct. 19, the latest "superhero" was called to the rescue and started performances four days earlier than expected. With high anxiety (and tons of water and tea), Gotay dove in head first — and even had his mother greet him at the stage door following his first flight. After his third performance as Spider-Man, we chatted with Gotay about his latest theatrical outing, his numerous concert performances and being a "badass" on Broadway.
You began performances in Spider-Man just a few days before Halloween. Did you ever think you'd be a superhero this year — on Broadway? Did you have any special ties to the comic-book characters?
JG: [Laughs.] I was not like a super fan of Marvel Comics or anything — that wasn't really my world — but I remember seeing all of the movies growing up, the old-school "Batman" films [as well as] the new series [from writer-director-producer] Christopher Nolan. I was "in" on it, but I never, ever anticipated being a part of this show. I remember being in high school hearing that they were bringing Spider-Man to Broadway and just having no idea what that was going to be like. Never in a million years would I ever have imagined anything like it. I never thought of myself in that light, [as a superhero], but what's so brilliant about Peter Parker is that he's kind of the anti-superhero. He's just a kid who wants to get the girl and is in love with science… Once I started to think about it in that way, I was like, "Oh, that makes sense. I guess I could see myself doing this."
Well, you have such a great duality as a performer — you played this bad-boy rocker in F#%cking Up Everything, and you were the sweet heartthrob in Bring It On. We see a bit of both sides to Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Which do you like to explore more?
JG: For me, growing up — just being in acting class and musical theatre school — I never thought of myself as a typical leading man because I didn't look like that, [and] I didn't sound like that. I never thought that was the kind of stuff I was going to do, so I'm really drawn to the idea of this quirky leading man — the leading man with a twist, in some way. I think my character [Randall] in Bring It On was totally a reflection of that. Even though he was the love interest of the show, he was really alternative and had a very unique thing going on. There's a similar vibe here with Peter Parker because he is a leading man, in one sense — he has really strong morals, delivers these really powerful songs, and it's a really strong character — but there is that softer, vulnerable side to him. He does have a sweetness and is really quirky. It's fun for me to get to dig into a character like that because I think, as an actor, I don't fall into one specific category. I like to play a character that explores multiple sides. Getting to play him — and all of the sides of him — is the most exciting part for me.
You often explore your softer side in concert, and you're all over the New York City cabaret scene. What excites you about taking on new material by emerging musical theatre writers?
JG: It's so exciting, for me, not only to get to work with these up-and-coming composers — who are all developing their voice in this community — but it's also exciting to take on the challenge of having to learn a song, get barely any rehearsal for it, make immediate choices about what you're going to do and then allow yourself to just be present in the moment and "ride the ride." It's an amazing exercise for any actor to have to perform in a concert where they're not given an ample amount of rehearsal time or guidance, really. I've flexed that muscle of having to learn really fast and deliver a performance really quickly. I think that can only inform the work you're doing in any show. It's always a gift for an actor to get to work with a composer and sing their music for — sometimes — the first time. Getting to bring their material to life is such a privilege. I'm just a huge fan of new musical theatre, and I champion young writers. I think these amazing, young composers are the next generation of theatre, and I want to be a part of [the process of] them developing their voice.
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