Actor Alan Tudyk has gone from playing dozen of roles in Off-Broadway's Bunny Bunny, to playing two characters in Paul Rudnick's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told to playing just one part in his Broadway debut, Epic Proportions, set to open Sept. 30 at the Helen Hayes Theatre. At this rate, Tudyk will soon be so famous that Anthony Rapp will be mistaken for him, rather than the other way around. Tudyk talked to Playbill On-Line about the excitement of being on Broadway and his ever-growing experience in the genre of the biblical spoof.
Playbill On-Line: Tell me about Epic Proportions.
Alan Tudyk: It's set in the 30's. It's a play about the making of the biggest epic movie ever made, in the style of the DeMille movies. I'm one of 3,400 extras who aspire to make it big and be discovered in this picture. Actually, by the end of it, he does get discovered and becomes the star, and gets the girl -- Kristin Chenoweth.
PBOL: After The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, you're becoming something of an expect at biblical pastiches. Do you see a trend here? Is this a conscious career choice?
AT: [Laughs] No, it's not conscious. There are a lot of similarities. This stuff is so ripe for humor. It's something everybody knows, or most people know. They're sacred [stories] and they're easy to poke fun at or slight. I'm thinking about two different jokes. One is in The Most Fabulous Story in the birth of Christ scene, and Steve and Adam get together and he says, "What did you bring?" "Frankincense." "What did you bring?" "Myrrh." "For a baby?!" We don't even know what myrrh is anymore. It's something we know, but we don't question. And in Epic Proportions, there's a scene between Kristin and Jeremy Davidson where she say, "Oh, you've been so much help to me. Before you came along, we were going to have to part the Red Sea on the side." It's so silly. It's applying contemporary things we all know and applying them to the logic of these biblical stories.
PBOL: This is your first show on Broadway. Is it a different experience or is it just another play?
AT: Oh, God, no. It's different. Everything about Broadway is different. It's just more intense. You can feel it. The stakes are just higher. You'll see things about the show showing up in a lot of places you wouldn't with an Off-Broadway play. I was walking by one of those little Broadway shops and they had stuff from our show in it. I said, "Wow, this stuff is sellable." We're across the street from Chicago and Shubert Alley; you get out and go to lunch and all the cast from Chicago is getting out. There's such a different feeling to it. Not that Off-Broadway isn't really hard. But the size of things is just bigger. Someone was changing their costume back stage last night and they said "We can't make this change!" And I said, "Hey, I got a free set of hands here. Let me help." No! No, no, no, no, no! "What is wrong with you?!" This is not Off-Broadway.
PBOL: You'll bring the wrath of the unions down on you. At a Drama League luncheon, just after Bunny Bunny, you made it known that you are not Anthony Rapp. Any confusion that way since?
AT: Uh, sure. I get that a lot. Not as much as when Rent really hit. But people will ask me in stores -- usually tourists. I don't think about it anymore, but then it'll go two week and somebody will say something. PBOL: So I guess this means you would never appear in Rent, even if it were offered.
AT: [Laughs] Yeah. Probably not. People would be watching me as playing Anthony Rapp playing a character, as opposed to how I would do it.
PBOL: Your co-star, Kristin Chenoweth worked with Rapp on You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Does she ever call you Anthony?
AT: No. She was actually saying, "You know who you remind me of?" And I was getting ready -- Uh! -- and she said somebody else. Right before that, I was right by the Lucille Lortel and this woman stopped her car by the street and she screamed out "Hey, we saw you in your show!" And people in the street turned and looked at her and turned and looked at me. And I was a block away from the theatre [where The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told was playing], so I was like "Thank you so much." And she said, "You were wonderful -- in Rent." I kept smiling and saying "Thank you so much. Thank you."
PBOL: You've accrued a few good credits in the past few years. Early on, when you were starting out, was there any credit on your resume that you couldn't wait to get other credits just so you could take it off.?
AT: That's a good question. Yeah. There was this pilot for a children's show that dealt with virtual reality and I played what was called "The Ringmaster." Oh, it was awful. And it was really low budget. It didn't even sound real, it sounded fake. And anytime anyone saw it they would always ask about it. "You were The Ringmaster in `Cybersports D.R.'?" I remember when we finished the shoot, they were happy to hand me a beer on the set, a tall boy of Budweiser. I was happy when I was able to get rid of that credit.
PBOL: Who would you most like to work with in the theatre?
AT: Paul Giamatti. He did a workshop of Bunny Bunny and then Bruno Kirby took over when we went to Philadelphia. But watching him was really unbelievable. He was just so good. Him and Alison Janney are sort of in the same league. They're just so good. I love seeing them in anything.
PBOL: Do you have any dream roles?
AT: I would like to play Trigorin, but that's a long way off. I'd also like to play the lead in Sam Shephard's Cowboy Mouth, I forget his name. I would love to do that. It's a great, great play. And I'm from Texas, so I'd like to put on a pair of cowboy boots and play a hard-drinking, smoking kind of guy.
--By Robert Simonson