PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Reprise Cabaret Star Bryce Ryness

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Reprise Cabaret Star Bryce Ryness
Bryce Ryness, who stars as the Emcee in the Reprise Theatre Company's production of Cabaret, fills out's questionnaire with random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Bryce Ryness
Bryce Ryness

Ryness has appeared on Broadway in Legally Blonde and as Woof in Hair, earning a 2009 Drama Desk nomination for the latter performance.

Other stage work includes the world premiere of Leap of Faith, Crossing Brooklyn, Dangerous Beauty, Rent, Floyd Collins, See Rock City & Other Destinations and Groovelily's Sleeping Beauty Wakes.

He also writes songs and fronts the eponymous rock band, RYNESS. The band's studio album, "A Fire In The Night," is available on iTunes.

Full given name:

Bryce Christian Ryness  

Where you were born/where you were raised: Danville, CA
Zodiac Sign: Libra
What your parents did/do for a living: Dad: Real Estate. Mom: Homemaker.
Current audition song: It's a sticky wicket, but I normally sing something of my own. Sometimes it plays, sometimes not. But I always remember the words! Generally, if there's a song in the sides, I'll sing that.
Special skills: Vocal percussion… I was a professional beat-boxer for a year or two. No kidding.
Something you're REALLY bad at: Ballet... te.rri.ble.
First Broadway show you ever saw: Miss Saigon. I was 14 years old and very suburban. The overt sexuality in "The Heat Is On In Saigon" melted my brain.
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: "Soliloquy" from Carousel. As a father to a little girl (and new baby boy), that song carries a lot of weight. I also love "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar. Just epic.
Some favorite musicals: Jesus Christ Superstar
Floyd Collins
West Side Story
Once On This Island
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: Richard Harris, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Richard Pryor, Chris Farley, Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Paul Newman
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead Oh, God. How much space do I have?


I'll just start listing names: Brad Delp (Boston), John Farnham, Chris Cornell, Jeff Buckley, Matthew Ward, Anthony Evans, John Foreman (Switchfoot), Matt Bellamy (Muse), Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant… the list goes on and on. In the theatre world: John Raitt, Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson, Gavin Creel, Sasha Allen, Tituss Burgess, Billy Porter and Adam Pascal.

One performance - attended - that you will never forget: U2 Vertigo Tour at the Staples Center
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Anthony Evans' "In Christ Alone" from "The Bridge." Tears, every time. And "A Part of Us" from Once On This Island... every time.
MAC or PC? Mac
Most played song on your iPod: "Sunday After You" by Kenna
Most-visited websites:
Last book you read: "Tinkers" by Paul Harding. Man, that makes me sound pretentious. I didn't like it, if that makes a difference.
Must-see TV shows: "Arrested Development"
"West Wing"
"Family Guy"
Last good movie you saw: "Rabbit Hole" (on Netflix)
Some films you consider classics: "The Natural"
"Blazing Saddles"
"Endless Summer II"
"Terminator II"
"Back To The Future"
"Shawshank Redemption"
"The Usual Suspects"
Performers you would drop everything to go see: Martin Sexton, Colin Hay, Switchfoot
Pop culture guilty pleasure: "I'm A Slave For You" by Britney Spears. Not proud of that one.
Favorite cities: New York City, NY; Balboa Island, CA; Tavarua Island, Fiji
Favorite sport/team/player: Baseball/SF Giants/Brian Wilson
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: The "Star Wars" Soundtrack
"Journey's Greatest Hits"
"Led Zeppelin II"
When did you first realize you could sing?

My Mom, my sister Natalie, and I were in the car driving home from somewhere and we were singing in 3-part harmony. And I didn't have to be taught my part, I just sang what I heard in my head and it worked. I think it was a praise song... or a Wilson-Phillips song. Can't remember. I just remember locking that chord and feeling like I broke through a wall, transitioned to the other side or something. I was 7.

First stage kiss: Amberlin Jackson. 1994. I played "Fred" in Pirates of Penzance. We had to kiss at the end. Correction: I should say we *got* to kiss. She was smokin' hot. And older than me. Booyah.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: In high school I played "Juror #3" in our mixed-gender production of Twelve Angry JURORS. They didn't have enough men so they changed the name of the play… classy.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:

My freshman year of high school I had a baseball career-ending injury. So I poured all my energy into singing. That spring, with a cast on my arm, I sang "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" with Wendi Bergamini. She was a senior. The rush I got from singing with Wendi (also smokin' hot), who was a SENIOR (and I the lowly freshman), and the roar of laughter and joy from the audience when I dropped into the hook sent me over the edge.

Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Pre-show: Juice Generation on 9th Ave @ 45th.
Post-show: Angus McIndoe (although it's probably because every time I've been there, someone else paid). Or Shake Shack.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Dr. Pepper. Or a dirty Bombay Sapphire Martini.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Right before the curtain comes up, I physiologically *feel* my feet on the ground- solid- and then tell myself, "This has never happened before." It helps me stay grounded and out of ruts and gimmicks.
Most vocally challenging role you have ever played:

Floyd Collins. We did it with no microphones. It was intense. Roger in Rent is a close second. Non-Equity, bus-and-truck touring will eat you alive.


Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:

It just happened! I was running onstage pushing a wheelchair in Sleeping Beauty Wakes during one of the most serious moments in the show. The King is dying and I'm bringing him a wheelchair to aid his ailing body. By mistake, I clipped a corner of the set with the wheel and went headfirst over the chair. The chair folded up on itself and, somehow, ended up on top of me. All I could think of to say was, "almost there." Kecia Lewis-Evans was laughing so hard offstage she was weeping. I'm glad I could bring you such mirth, Kecia. :-


Worst costume ever:

And by "worst" you, of course, mean "best." Out at Bay Street Theatre in the summer of 2007 I played a Luchador in Turandot: Rumble For The Ring. Full spandex outfit. Cape. Lucha Libre mask. And cartoon-graphic'd Chuck Taylor shoes. Wrestling and singing high C#s all night. Awesome.


Worst job you ever had:

Lilo & Stitch Breakfast at the Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland. I was the emcee. My call time was 6:00 AM and I lived 50 minutes away. It was hell on a stick.  

Leading man role you've been dying to play: Oh man, I don't know what kind of theatre juju I'm compromising right now but I would love to get a shot at Jonas in Leap of Faith. I covered it out in LA and didn't get to go on. That part makes my guts ache.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Evita. Or Elphaba. You could really flip a coin on it.
Something about you that surprises people: Meredith and I waited until we got married.
Something you are incredibly proud of: My family. My kids. My wife. My band. The Hair journey. Graduating from USC's Marshall School of Business.
Something you're embarrassed to admit: I'm not that crazy about musical theatre. Most of it, in fact. I get it and its appeal. But most of it flies past me. Ironic, considering that's how I've been making my living these past few years...
Career you would want if not a performer: Surfer, carpenter or sound designer.
Three things you can't live without: Bible. Meredith. My kids.
"I'll never understand why…" ... certain Christians lead the charge in imposing morality on others in politics and law-making without backing it up with their actions away from the public square. Boggles my mind.
Words of wisdom for aspiring performers?

"Luck" is a falsehood. It's a distracting word. It distracts you from truly examining why or how things happened the way they did. "Luck," as we commonly use it, is the intersection of opportunity and preparation. If you're not prepared, talent is wasted and only functions as a diversion. It's those that work harder- and smarter- that succeed in the performing arts.

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